Ten Ways to Stop Being a Writer

June 27, 2022 § 8 Comments

By Daien Guo

1)    Develop carpal tunnel. Or some combination of carpal tunnel, cubital tunnel, tennis elbow and tendonitis. It doesn’t hurt that bad, but it never goes away. Buy three types of braces for your right arm. Wear them all at once when you go to bed so that your husband won’t try to have sex with you.

2)    Meet someone who sold their book at auction and got a movie deal. Start imagining your book as a movie. Start casting it (hello, Constance Wu!) and brainstorming the soundtrack. Start dressing up your main character in an amazing wardrobe, like Olivia Pope or Selina Meyer, but even better. Imagine yourself yelling at the stylist, “She will ONLY wear Akris!” Start thinking that you would be a good movie director and how to pursue that instead.

3)    Go to law school.

4)    Get a cat. But your cat is not like other cats (i.e., the ones you see on Instagram.) He doesn’t lounge seductively next to your mug of herbal tea, purring his appreciation at each word of brilliant crystalline prose. He’s constantly hungry and lunges at your arms and legs with sharp extended claws while you type. When he meows, it sounds like a wolf creature’s midnight howl under a full moon, except it’s not just once a lunar cycle. It’s every day, morning, afternoon and night, for many hours.

5)    Start stalking agents and editors on Twitter. Develop crushes on them. Assign them distinct personalities and elaborate backstories, like what you used to do with your Barbies. (Or what you should be doing with the bland soulless characters in your half-completed manuscript.) Close your eyes and imagine a future relationship with one of them – one that is intimate and emotionally fulfilling. Truer and deeper than any relationship you’ve ever had in your life. Try to message them. They will ignore you.

6)    Apply non-stop to artist residencies. When you finally get into one, try to have a pointless dreary love affair with one of the other creatives, preferably a composer or a sculptor, not a poet. (For reference, consult Writers & Lovers by Lily King and Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames.)

7)    Read the flash fiction you’ve published in obscure literary journals. Savor every word. Feel your self-esteem swing like a pendulum. This is shit! This is brilliant! This is shit! This is brilliant! Because it’s flash fiction, this goes by fast. Just read the piece again if you want to prolong the experience. Keep doing this until you feel paralyzed.    

8)    Go for a walk in your garden, which has been much neglected for the past five years due to your writing. Gaze at the fuchsia peonies. Peonies are amazing flowers, pushing through the weeds and yellowish clay dirt every spring, determined to bloom despite being denied all nutrition, care or love. You will be like this peony! You will be emotionally resilient. Take a picture, crop out the weeds, post to your Instagram account with a line of poetry you find on the Internet that seems legit.

9)    Donate all your tweed. Yes, you’ve always had a lot of tweed. It started when you were a teenager, when you were reading Max Beerbohm. You were a true Anglophile. You pooh-poohed the airheads who read Jane Austen. You found oversized tweed clothing at thrift stores, dropped off by sad widows of dead men. You gave the tweed some good years, especially in your early twenties when you were full of false hope and went to parties in Brooklyn.

10)  Write some words. Delete. (This is very important – you must delete every single word.) Go watch The Ultimatum instead.


Daien Guo is no longer a writer living in Washington, D.C. She has previously published her writing in Lunch Ticket, Bodega, Furious Gravity, Little Patuxent Review, and 3Elements Literary Review.

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