4 Dirty Things I Need to Stop Doing as a Writer (and One Thing I Don’t)

1. Avoiding the Big E


God. Can you see my face of torment right now? Screwed up and fearful, the way little kids generally look when that creepy uncle starts coming over with “candy”.

Now I like to flash a red pen at almost everything – except myself. It’s not that I don’t like to make my writing better; it’s just that I prefer to write as opposed to re-reading and fixing. And yes, I know, editing counts as writing but for some reason it’s a blockage of the most uncomfortable variety.

This is my “fuck-off-editing” face.

I’ve talked about it before but editing is intimidating. I know my work can be better, but the act is tedious and painful. I can’t come at it lightly (Thanks Stephen King!) and it freaks the almighty hell out of me for a few reasons –

1. What happens if it sucks? I mean, really, really sucks?

2. Think of all the WRITING I’m missing out on.

3. It feels SO hard (heh).

And it is. At least for me. But I’m pushing through. I got a 75,000 page first draft, just sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to flash my pen.

I just need nerve. Dear god, and maybe a drink.


2. Becoming Bipolar

Probably twice a month I become bipolar. Of the writerly variety.

You’ll be pleased to know I do howl at the moon too.

I waffle between bursts of fist-pumping “suck it bitches!” when I write the most fabulous, awesome thing ever to hit my word doc, to sad sack George Michael Bluth when a piece of mine is rejected or when I read some other work that blows my fricking mind.

Wheee, I wrote something GOOD!


Wheee, I suck.


That’s when I cry in the shower, the only thing of comfort my soap-on-a-rope.

Not really.

I just cut myself a little bit.

But not really.

I mean, it’s not so far off.  Who hasn’t wondered if they’re on the right path, if their writing is truly good, not just because their mom says so (hi mom!)? And so we swoon between happy and sad.

It’s the writer’s way.

Goddamn writers.

3. Writing on the Road

Traffic is the bane on my every day existence. When I’m stuck in rush hour, cursing like a virgin on prom night, that’s when it hits me. A gorgeous line. A new character. An amazing idea. And so I scramble for my phone, trying to get to the notepad, when the car swerves, I right it, and suddenly I’m thanking Sweet Baby J  I haven’t mashed into that BMW in the other lane.

“Oh, you mean I’m supposed to be looking at the road? How droll.”

Back away from the phone.

Yes. I try to write when I drive. I can’t help it.

However, I have a little bit. I’ve downloaded an Easy Voice Recorder on my phone. Now, instead of tappin keys, all I need to do is hit my little app and hit the RECORD button.

Now instead of causing a traffic collision, I simply speak into the mic.

Try it. It’s handy. You’ll like it.


4. Mirror Mirror Complex

I’ll admit this. I am a jealous writer. Not in the I’ll-cut-you kind of way, but in the oh-man-I wish-I-wrote-that kind of way.

It’s cool though. It’s something I need to break.

I hope everyone goes through this. It’s definitely a great way to spur myself to be better, however, you can only compare so much. You’re you. You’re not this writer or that.

Embrace what you are. Write what you do—or don’t—know. That’s the beauty of you. if you strive to write like another author you’re not being honest with yourself or your work.

I’m not trying to be a proselytizing asshole here, inspiring words actually make me squeamish. I’d rather just sock you in the arm and tell you to “cheer up, slugger”.

But I truly feel this.

Sure, compare yourself a bit. Imitation is flattery. But for god’s sake, use your own voice. No matter how long it takes you to get there, you’ll thank yourself for it later.


And the last thing is…the last thing to KEEP DOING is –


5. Eavesdropping

I am the mistress of quote stealing. Listening in a public space for those golden nuggets of delicious words (dear god now I want popcorn shrimp) and using them for my own ammunition later. I’ll immortalize a quote you never knew you said.

This is my favorite thing about being a writer. Taking every day life and making it fucking amazing. Making it yours.

The thing that amazes me is: give five writers one quote and you’ll get five different stories. Sure, no idea is ever, truly original anymore. But with writing you can take and tweak and twist the words into a mash of awesome. And it will be yours.

So write these. All of them.

All yours.

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  • Reply


    July 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! I definitely relate to the bi-polar ups and downs from hell and the what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-writing when so and so just wrote this piece that has me hyperventilating from worship and wanting to vomit! I adore you, Jules, and so relate to every blog I read of yours! Keep them coming please, or I might just go under for good! Oh wait, there’s my IPA. Okay, feeling better!
    xoxoxoox Meg

  • Reply

    Harley May

    July 30, 2012 at 2:40 am

    Yes, yes, yes, A THOUSAND MILLION TIMES, “YES.”

    The back and forth of, “This is awesome!” “I should give up writing and just strip for a living!” (pffft. people would pay to keep my clothes on. stretchmarkssaywhat?)

    As far as thinking of brilliant things in the car. I’ll think of things to add to my manuscript and will text myself. True story: once I texted my mother, “Thrill Monster is a great title.” She didn’t get it.

    I’m a big dropper o’ eaves and love to steal parts of conversations I have with others. I would like to think they do the same with my brilliance/idiocy.

    Me love you long time, Jules.

  • Reply

    Marsha Stewart

    July 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Are ya trying to give your Mother a heart attack with those driving comments? Aye, aye, aye. Both hands on the wheel young lady and eyes on the road for buggers sake!!! Love Mom x

  • Reply


    July 30, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    “I’ll immortalize a quote you never knew you said.”
    BRILLIANT. I love it.

    And I am glad to hear that you are writing during your bitch of a commute, rather than wasting time on silly crosswords.

    Now THAT is hard work.

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