Welcome to SCRAWL SPACE, Greg’s blog. Here he waxes eloquent on all things relating to writing and the writing life. In other words, it’s where he loves to waste his time and that of his readers. He’s very happy you’ve stopped by. You, too, Dad.
We writers love to get together and complain – either in person, online, or in our dreams while napping. In our defense, there’s a lot to complain about if you’re a writer. It’s the main reason I got into the writing biz to begin with. “I get to work in my underwear AND whine and whinge incessantly? I’m in!”
Nevertheless, all complaining and no play makes Jack a dull boy. That’s why I’ve decided to share some unique solutions to common author problems and issues. If you are a writer and don’t like my solutions, feel free to complain. I’d expect nothing less.
Finding time to write. So you have a full-time job and kids to take care of, and you rarely get more than a couple of hours a week to work on your manuscript. What should you do? Simple – quit your job and hire a nanny. I know what you’re thinking, “How can I afford a nanny if I don’t have a job?” I have no idea – that’s for you to figure out. You’ll need to get creative, which should be easy if you truly are a writer. You might consider winning the lottery or becoming the head of a crystal meth empire.
Now, if quitting your job simply isn’t a real option for you, you could try keeping your job and pretending to work in your cubicle while secretly typing away at your novel. I did it for years. The same goes for the nanny thing. If getting one isn’t feasible, you could try keeping your kids and pretending to look after them while secretly writing your novel.
Other solid options for finding time to write include:
Abusing amphetamines so that you can create wildly imaginative prose every night while everyone else is sleeping.
Behaving like a total a-hole so that colleagues, family members and friends leave you the hell alone with your manuscript.
Moving to Croatia and getting pregnant right after securing a job. (You’ll get one full year of maternity leave while earning 100-percent of your salary.)
Overcoming writer’s block. Charles Bukowski said the best way to overcome writer’s block is to write about it. But Bukowski was a drunk of mythical proportions and was talking out of his ass when he said that. I, on the other hand, am a drunk of mere ordinary proportions, so you’re better off listening to me. And I say the best way to overcome writer’s block is to get incarcerated. The only things to do in prison are lift weights, observe colorful/dangerous characters, and write. Once you do a few months at County, you’ll learn how to do all three of the aforementioned activities at once.
The trouble is, to get into prison you have to commit a crime. Be sure to pick one that’s not so bad that you get locked up for years with murderers. Granted, real-life murderers are great for basing characters off of, but a long sentence will hinder your ability to tweet about your book once it’s out. By the same token, you don’t want your crime to be so light that you get locked up for mere weeks with corporate executives. Boring, and not enough time to produce a decent manuscript.
Self-medicating without diminishing your craft. For centuries writers have strived to achieve the right balance of intoxication and readability. Too much drinking and drugs, and you run the risk of writing something as unreadable as Finnegan’s Wake. Too little drinking and drugs, and you run the risk of dealing with rejection notifications while sober.
I recommend following Hemingway’s oft-cited advice, “Write drunk, edit sober.” (But first get rid of any shotguns that may be lying around.) You’ll know you’ve had just enough to drink (or taken just the right dosage) when you feel a slight sense of euphoria and power and are able to melt into your story and feel your characters. In contrast, you’ll know you’ve overdone it a bit when you find yourself naked in a bus stop bathroom insisting you are one of your characters. It may take some trial and error until you get it just right.
Finding an agent. Don’t waste any more time cold-querying literary agents in hopes of gaining representation. Experts agree the best way to land an agent is to be referred to one by one of their existing clients.
So it’s time for you to start sleeping around with successful authors.
Don’t worry, this is easier done than said. All you need to do is go to a lot of book signings and, when it’s your turn to have the author sign your copy, tell him or her they are the reason you write, that you feel they rank up there with the finest literary minds in history, and that you are a master of tantric sex.
If you happen to have a spouse or significant other who frowns against such ploys, then maybe you need to leave them for someone a little more supportive of your writing career.
Getting people (who aren’t related to you) to buy your book. There are authors who say they are not concerned with book sales. These writers are true artists. Bullshit artists. Everyone with a book wants it to sell and will try nearly anything to make that happen.
The following tactics have done wonders for getting people outside of my immediate family to buy my books:
Hiring a sign-spinner to stand outside of Barnes & Noble dressed as my front cover.
Announcing on social media that I’m holding a puppy hostage until five thousand copies of my novel have sold.
Paying a publicist $20,000 to ensure I sell at least half that amount in books.
Posting a Photoshopped picture of Oprah holding a copy of my novel.
Writing a book that doesn’t totally suck. (Though evidence has shown that writing one that DOES totally suck might be even better for sales.)
If you have an author problem you’d like me to address, feel free to share it in the Comments section below. If I am your author problem, kindly keep that to yourself.