First, announce to yourself that you are going to write today. Note that the time frame should be a large window that allows for much procrastination. For example, never say, “I am going to write at noon today.” This will lead to either certain failure or, far less likely, actual productivity. Writers shouldn’t be productive unless they have exhausted all other excuses.
Next, have some coffee. Writers are addicts and while I can’t condone becoming a heroin junkie, coffee is a relatively harmless vice and one that will come in useful for years to come. Whenever you don’t feel like writing, you can simply say that you didn’t have your coffee, or your coffee was crappy, or that asshole waitress must have given you decaf. It’s a perfect excuse machine – like a sick imaginary cat.
Now that you’ve made your intentions clear, had two cups of organic (never instant!) coffee, and kissed your partner goodbye before he or she leaves for a real job that makes your life possible, it’s time to get to work. But first, go to the couch. Sit. Sigh. Jut out your lower lip, and push out air from deep in your lungs so that your bangs (if you have them) float gently above your forehead.
Think about your story. What do you have down so far? Think about where you left off. Yeah, you’re kind of stuck, aren’t you? Wonder if you should start something new, something less ambitious. Flash fiction! Yes, maybe flash fiction is more your speed. Experience a feeling of sudden shame. Ask yourself whether or not you are actually capable of writing one goddamn story that has a beginning a middle and an end. Ask yourself, “Is that so hard?”
Consider your answer while you go for a walk around the neighborhood. Encounter various stay at home moms and dads, strolling their kids around. Think to yourself, that that must be nice. To be at home all day. Realize you have that life already and are wasting it. Walk home at double speed.
Consider making more coffee, but instead crack open a beer. Sit it down next to you at your writing desk. Open your laptop. Open Word. Open your most recently saved document. Re-read it. Fix typos. Change around little words. Think about switching the name of your main character to Troy. After 15 minutes, don’t.
Move the curser down to the bottom of the document and prepare to continue. Notice your Wi-Fi is on. Check your email. Respond to emails. Go check the regular mail. Do pushups. Fold laundry. Eat olives. Vacuum.
Experience a vague pain in your stomach. Fear that you are a wimp. Fear that you have no talent; you’re a hack, a loser, a fool with no ambition, who craves success without the willingness to do anything resembling work. Hate yourself.
When partner comes home from, report that you had a good day and that you think you have some real momentum going. Refuse to let him or her read your work.
Repeat every fifth day.
‘How To Write’ originally appeared in 5×5 and was reviewed in NewPages.com.