Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Write a Book

I thought I'd lighten the mood a bit with a humor piece I published on my blog instructing you on how to write a novel.  Enjoy. :)

i love how-to posts like ones that teach me how to make a blog button, or fashion a pair of crotchless panties from floss and a handkerchief or the best way to punch myself in the teeth.  so i figured it’s practically my duty to teach you folks something that i do best: novel writing.
be sure to follow these steps in order to create a 350-400 page albatross you can lovingly wear around your neck:
  1. go to a coffee shop to write.  and make sure everyone knows you’re going to a coffee shop to write.  be sure to type “stopping by the coffee shop to add a few pages to my novel” as your twitter and facebook statuses.  casually mention you’re in a big hurry and simply must use the five items or less lane at the grocery store because the coffee shop is closing in an hour and you probably don’t even have enough time to flesh out chapter five as it is.  and if at all possible, wear a t-shirt that says “i’d rather be writing at the coffee shop.”
  2. speaking of clothing, you might want to burn everything you own now and start over with a completely new wardrobe.  i enjoy wearing a pair of thick framed glasses and donning a knitted scarf.  the scarf comes in handy because it not only soaks up summertime sweat but it also says things like “i am more important than you because i’m writing a novel.  what are you doing besides raising kids and performing heart surgery?” and “MFA programs be damned, i’ll publish this baby completely uneducated, thankyouverymuch.”
  3. when you arrive at the coffee shop (and you will arrive at the coffee shop.  in fact, you’ll know the route to the coffee shop by heart and will have to set up a security system in your home to keep you from sleep driving there at night) be sure to take out your cell phone and call your deaf grandmother or the operator.  be sure to mention the plot device you’re toying with and why aiden’s character development in chapter seven is taking you for a loop.  you might be tempted to only pretend you’re talking on the phone but don’t.  the phone will most certainly ring if you do.
  4. cry at random intervals.
  5. order lattes with triple shots of expresso and when the barista mentions it’s practically illegal to sell something with that much caffeine in it, say “it’s okay.  i’m a novelist.”
  6. stretch every twenty minutes and be sure to swivel your lap top around so that everyone can capture a glimpse of your word document painted in courier new.
  7. carry a ginormous notebook with a cover page on the outside that reads “blah blah blah: the novel.”  fill the notebook with printed addresses, menus of your favorite restaurants, a list of people you’d enjoy beating with a giant stick of salami.  be creative here.
  8. “accidentally” send out an email to a group of five or seventy of your closest friends that captures the correspondence between you and an imaginary agent who just loves your work.  send out a follow up email letting your friends know that you’re embarrassed by your little faux pax but are hoping to “share some exciting news real soon.”
  9. make sacrifices to the gods.
  10. take up an unseemly habit like drinking or smoking too much (or preferably, both) and quote memorized lines from authors who died from cirrhosis of the liver or depression (or preferably both) when your best friend has broken up with her boyfriend.  she’ll appreciate it.
  11. don’t edit.  ever.
this should pretty much do it.  it’s been my system thus far and all i know is that a few agents (i won’t name names.  but i want to.) think my work is pretty stellar.  i mean they don’t want to publish it right now but that’s only because they’re busy and their kids have school and they don’t want their wives to catch on so it’s probably better if we enjoy my work in private together.

but i’m still holding out hope that good things will happen one of these days.  in the mean time i’m stocking up on scarves.


  1. Hahhahaa... i like this.. maybe i shud be trying this.. else i will never ever be able to write a book... Thanks Ericka

  2. YAY!!! finally finally just finally i will able to write a book.. unless ofcourse if i dont die of alcoholism or cirrhosis before... may be i will get a Booker prize posthumously... Haha... Great post Ericka

  3. I love love love this!!!

    Would you believe there is no real coffee shop near me??? I have to pretend my dining room table is my coffee shop, sigh, LOL.

  4. Cracking up!! Thanks for sharing this - I love it!

  5. thanks ratz! :)

    and nikki you should hire a guy who wears glasses and shuffles around with an attitude while trying to find an outlet to set up shop in your dining room. instant coffee shop! voila!

  6. This was a fantastic read :) I especially love the notebook filled with addresses and menus and such! And the extra shots of espresso, ha!

  7. Hmm I just posted a comment but it seems it was gobbled up somehow.

    I love that idea Ericka!! But can he be wearing only a cowboy hat, with glistening six pack abs??? That would so help me write, LOL.

  8. Love it! But I would really like to see you in a black ballet neck, long sleeve of course, top with black skinny jeans, black ballet flats, giant black sunglasses, a head scarf and a cape.

  9. Scarves. I'm lacking in the scarves department, it always being surface of the sun hot here. But heat be damned, I'm going to start donning scarves. I'm certain that's what's missing in my writing.

    Thanks for the laugh!

  10. Have you been stalking me again?! Dear Lord! And for the record, since you brought it up, I knit my own scarves with all organic cotton threads that I dye in my kitchen sink. NOT!!


  11. i got the notebooks! I got that part right!

    gotta go, keep the lines clear for the agents that are soon to call about my 15 filled up torn up notebooks...

  12. Bhaaa! Is it wrong that I get a little annoyed at people who camp out at the coffee shop? Sure- we all need a change of scenery to get work done but you are one person, sir, please don't take up the entire left side of the room.


  13. Oh my. I've been doing it all wrong this whole time. Sigh.

    Story of my life.

    Off to sulk at the coffee shop. Taking my scarf. Probably utilized as a hanky though.

  14. Coffee shop. *sigh* I wish there was one close to me. Thanks for making me giggle. Great post, Ericka!

    ~that rebel, Olivia

  15. Coffee shop nearby? Check.
    Twitter and Facebook statuses updated? Double check.
    Thick framed glasses? Check, and with bling!
    Knit scarf? Not only knit, but it is one I knit!
    Deaf grandma? Sort of, but she likes to talk.

    Crying, sniffling, stretching and lethal amounts of caffeine, oh you bet!

    I've got the notebook, the info for my "agent's letter", enough booze to bathe in, and blood for a sacrifice.

    I thinking I'm ready to write!

    *Edited by Smee on Monday, 26 July 2010 at 9:22 AM CST*

  16. I've been writing short stories no one will ever (want to) read in my living room. I'm so glad I saw your post. At least your way I can have fun doing it. (Life is all about the process, not the finishing line right?


Write it!