Or 13 reasons you should at least reconsider your career choice. Or your attitude. And in some cases, your sanity.
Let’s face it, there are more writers out there than anyone can count, and some of them should really just do themselves and the rest of us a favor and stop. The question is—are you one of them?
Here’s a list of signs that you’d better pack your pens and scraps and move on.
1. You’d much rather talk about writing, than do it yourself
You’ve figured out the secret behind all bestselling novels and have even developed a system of writing stories that will revolutionize literature, but you’d much rather give that advice to others than use it yourself. Or better still, you’ve got no clue how to translate your ideas into stories and you’re not ashamed to admit it, bemoan your tragedy and cry and bitch about it on blogs, forums, comments, Facebook, Twitter, the line at the grocery store, your cats, your neighbor’s pot plants, your condescending Hogwarts owl.
2. You really want to do something else but call it writing
If you love to read books, you should become a librarian. If you love to review books, you should get your own reviewing blog. If you just want to work from home, sell your knitting on ebay. If you want to become famous doing something insanely special and unique, try juggling tigers in flaming tutus at the circus. Or learn to burp Homer’s Odyssey. Backwards. In Russian.
3. You suffer from writer’s block 364 days a year
Your muse is such a bitch she won’t let you touch her toes with a ten foot fantasy tickler? Trust me, there are far better ways to justify inactivity than claiming you’re a writer who just suffers from chronic artistic constipation.
4. Writing feels like pulling out a tooth with a hot caliper
If you sit down to write regularly but every word you type feels like someone’s yanking your nails out with rusty fish-hooks, you’re not doing anyone a favor. If you hate writing, stop doing it. Seriously. If it’s such a tedious, horrifying, gut-wrenching, brain-splitting pain, stop writing. Go play with your kids or your dogs, or sit in the bathtub and poke around in your belly button. Make yourself happy.
5. Even your best friends never seem to finish reading your manuscript
Constantly postponed feedback from your loved ones is a big fat warning sign. If even your mom and childhood chum aren’t able to fight their way through your mindblowing work of staggering genius, you’ve clearly… used the wrong font.
6. You showcase endless creativity in making up excuses not to write
Your boss assigned you a top secret task that requires every living minute of your day, or countless innocents will die? Your cat has a terrible infectious disease that could wipe out cathood? Your entire plumbing needs to be replaced today? The trash must be recycled in your own back yard first thing? The ingenious machine that will recycle your trash and turn it into eco-friendly rocket fuel must be invented tonight? Out of lawn mower parts? Or maybe your alpaca ate your manuscript? Your computer has become self-aware and won’t let you finish your book? You were abducted by terrorist Klingons?
7. You believe editing compromises your authenticity
Because only the unhampered, unrefined, half-drunk and totally transcended creative word-barf you spray on the wall is true art.
8. You’ve been fine-tuning the same manuscript for two decades
It’s your life’s work. Your pedestal. The foundation of towers upon towers of fan fiction, and thus needs to be absolutely perfect. Every time you look at your manuscript you find another way to make it sound more potent, see another word that can be replaced with a more supreme version. Each time you think of it, your brilliant mind comes up with an additional layer that needs to be added to make the story even more emotionally laden. It will make dictators cry and virgins give birth when it’s finished.
9. Your wordcount consists mainly of elaborate ways to trash other writers
Then you should know I totally hate your guts. If your brainpower is used almost entirely to bash other writers who got published or are more productive than you, you’re a creatively challenged asshat and you should just go play with yourself in highway traffic.
10. You think grammar rules is for pussies
Your sertain its only a matter of time til someone seas you’re genius 4 real and then its on and all them teachers can go suck a broom for all you care cuz you gonna be rich and famous and totally kick ass wit the book you writed.
11. Your idea for a novel is so incredibly awesome it renders you speechless
You’ve been brewing over this absolutely stupefying idea of a story for most of your life, but the adequate tools and techniques to make it work haven’t been invented yet. Or you wake up each morning filled with elation and enthusiasm and admiration for yourself and the incredible thing you envision, which no other writer has ever written before since the beginning of time, and you know it only needs a bit more patience to ripen and ferment until it will be ready to be put to paper. Besides, humanity isn’t ready for it yet anyway.
12. You’ve stopped reading books in eight grade, because they tarnish your style
Each writer has his own unique voice, his trademark, his signature walk across the winding paper catwalk. And you treasure yours like nobody’s business. Every time you come across another piece of writing, even the Sunday paper weather section, you feel how that Philistine’s eyeball-scraping style seeps into yours and blemishes it, stains it, rapes its virginal beauty.
13. You think that agents should query you
If you believe you’re that good, something’s wrong with your board computer. Everyone has to write those hard-ass queries, synopses and blurbs, everyone has to send those dreaded emails and plaster their room with rejections. You’re no different, no matter how many of your friends swear you’re the second coming of Isaac Lovecraft.
Throwing random thesaurus pages into a pot and stirring them with your magic wand doesn’t make readable fiction. Believing you’re worthy to be published and adored by millions of readers just because you’re you, doesn’t justify your lack of respect for others. Wishing to put J.K. Rowling back in her place, to singlehandedly change the English language, to make a quick buck, or just give yourself a good enough excuse to dick around on the computer all day long, are not good enough reasons to start or keep writing.
On the other side of the coin, whenever you doubt yourself and your work—like all writers do—stop to consider that hitting a low or having a bad day must never ever prevent you from doing what you love. There are others who should stop, for any or all of the above mentioned reasons, but that person is not you.
If writing is its own reward, if you live and breathe fiction and you can’t imagine anything better in life than creating entire worlds from scratch and sharing them with others—then you must keep going no matter how heavy the burdon may seem sometimes. You must write. It’s your destiny, Frodo.