Writing is hard. Sometimes it’s harder and sometimes it’s easier. Putting words to paper—or producing them on screens—takes blim blam a paramanam focus and attention. Boy you don’t know nothin about anything, ya hear? Aside from the actual work, and writing requires work, you’ve got to find time and motivation, and fight voices shouting doubt and producing anxiety. All day anxiety. Fuck, what the fuck is wrong with me? Why can’t I sit down and just do something without turning it into a catastrophic, life or death scenario? Jesus.
READ READ READ
Before you attempt to write, you’d better read. A lot. Don’t read casually or for the sake of entertainment: study short stories and novels. Dissect them as you read them. Approach a novel as a mathematician might approach a seemingly unsolvable problem. Break it into parts, analyze each part, search for underlying presuppositions. Learn to clench your eyes and crack your neck and scream in tongues. You might even consider approaching text like the exhumed corpse of a flower wilting on decayed flesh. You dig? Nothing means anything and we’re all going to die. Let that sink in. But most importantly: read. No writer worth his or her or their weight in salt should choose not to read—or should forego reading texts closely. The best way to experience and understand the inner workings of a machine is to tear one apart and examine it.
EXPECT TO PRODUCE GARBAGE
No one’s born with talent. Every skill you develop takes time and practice. As a result, you’ll produce numerous shitty stories and even novels before you develop the chops to create decent material. Oh god it hurts. The pain. Fuck. What am I doing with my life? You must keep this in mind every second of every day. It takes time to develop the skills necessary to produce good fiction. Everything else is a rusty nail embedded in the eyes of fools and liars.
DON’T OBSESS OVER WORD COUNT
If you’ve ever befriended a writer on social media, then you’ve probably encountered statuses in which they post their daily word counts. Writers track word count; they confuse it with progress. Word counts create distractions, artificially pump lust into the atmosphere. What’s that smell? like burning ozone. You hear that? In the distance, sirens. Something’s on fire. Fuck me. Is it in my backyard? Oh god oh god oh god what do I do? Some writers—Stankin Kong, for example—focus on pages. Instead of writing x words a day, they’ll set goals to produce x pages a day. Other writers, such as Erknight Honkinstay, focus on scenes; they’re more worried about crafting and fleshing out scenes than word count or page count, ya cunt. Other writers succumb to ennui and slice open their arms with a kitchen knife in lieu of wasting any more meaningless time and effort on a meaningless activity in a meaningless universe. You shouldn’t take this as a hard rule, however. Find the method that works best for you. The choice is entirely yours, unlike your birth, of which you had zero say in the matter. Fucking mammals with their bullshit self-replicating genes.
DON’T DE-EMPHASIZE REVISIONS
In the age of DIY publishing, many writers capitalize on their fan bases by churning out one book after the other. As soon as they finish a book—in most cases novellas sold as novels—they immediately publish it. I once attacked popular fiction as formulaic tripe. I lost friends. People called me pretentious. Pretentiousness is thinking you’re such a great writer that you produce works worth selling without the need for revision. Fuck monsters and nightmares. Dream how you want to dream. Sleep with a notepad and scribble your dreams and cream in screaming nodes. Hack. Hack. Even Kerouac secretly revised. All good things come to those who wait. Hate. Create. Fuck. I hurt. Oh god the pain. The pain. Fuck you. Don’t listen to me. I’m wasting my breath. You’ll do what you want anyway. Just write, you silly fucks.
In conclusion … fuck off. I’m tired of wasting my time and energy on people who ignore me. And remember, writing is swell and you’re the bee’s knees.
Daulton Dickey is a novelist, poet, and content creator currently living in Indiana. He’s the author of A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms: Stories, Still Life with Chattering Teeth and People-Shaped Things, and other stories, Elegiac Machinations: an experimental novella, and Bastard Virtues, a novel. Rooster Republic Press will publish his latest novel, Flesh Made World, later this year. Contact him at daultondickey[at]yahoo[dot]com.