Three Dirty Birds and 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing


The Three Dirty Birds are discussing Chuck Wendig’s The Kick-Ass Writer, and today we’re finding out the 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (Starting Right Now).

Ana: I was surprised that wasting time on Facebook wasn’t the first thing on the list.

Zoe: Maybe he’s saving that for the sequel.

Kate: He did talk about the bright shininess of Internet.

Zoe: Yes, but if he doesn’t call out each evil by name, we’ll pretend he means “the internet except that one place that sucks up all our time.”

Kate: I dunno, I know where my addictions lie. (Damn you, Reddit!) I just can’t seem to stay away…

Zoe: That is The Site That Shall Not Be Named in my office. I work very hard at pretending I’m behind the Great Wall of China and have no access to it.

Ana: I only ever go to Reddit when Kate links me. There’s other sites that take up my time…. like FML.

Zoe: It’s often a vicious cycle: check email, check Twitter, check Goodreads, see if you guys said anything in Facebook chat…and wow, now it’s time to check email again!

Kate: Lol. You guys are such distractions. I need to block the Dirty Birds.

Ana: You couldn’t.

Kate: I just can’t quit you!

Zoe: So, I actually wrote down something from tip #2 and stuck it to my computer: “The only way you can finish something is by not stopping.” It’s not as good as a sharp stick in the side every five minutes, but it might help.

Kate: I really thought this whole chapter could be rolled up in the concept of “your writing is your writing. It sounds how it sounds, takes as long as it takes, and should be as important, or more, than other things in your life, if you really want to do it.”

Zoe: I place it above showers, laundry, house cleaning, and sex. Much to Mr. Rider’s chagrin. I’d put it above food, but Mr. Rider put his foot down on that one.

Ana: Looks like Mr. Rider has priorities too.

Zoe: Honestly, I don’t know why he sticks around, but I’m glad he does. (Except when he’s bothering me when I’m trying to write. Which, he would point out, is All The Times.)

Ana: There should be support groups for spouses of writers.

Zoe: With food.

Kate: There probably is. Author Spouses Anonymous.

Ana: I don’t think they want to be anonymous. They want their voices to be heard. All the time.

Kate: Yes. Yes, they do.

I liked Tip #5. Stop hurrying. Sometimes I feel like there’s something wrong with me, because I see other writers with a new release every month, and I have no idea how they manage that. Do they have a maid? And someone to look after the yard? A nanny? How do they do it? But also, I think it’s because I need to stew a story a lot when I’m writing, so it goes in fits and starts. Which is probably why the ‘four projects at once’ thing works for me.

Zoe: Some writers are talking about this in a Goodreads Group I’m on. They’re all feeling the same way. (I feel the same way too.) There’s a lot of shouting about how the way to be successful is to stay on the map, get those releases out as quick as you can. But I think, more quietly, a lot of people are finding that’s not satisfying, or not possible for how they personally work. It works great for some…but not for everyone.

Kate: That’s good to hear. With all the stuff I’ve had to get done in real life this year, I kind of wandered away from the social writing groups and I’m not hearing the rumblings as well as I used to.

Zoe: I think the write-fast crowd gets a lot more buzz as well because it’s more of a magic trick to pump out a book a month than to patiently pound out one a year.

Ana: I think it’s also the ‘if you publish X books per year, you WILL be successful, which gets a lot of people, because writing is such an unsure job. I mean, you never know if you’re gonna get anywhere or not, so having someone present you with what seems like a sure-fire way probably appeals to a lot of people.

Zoe: Yes, having a “key” to success spelled out is comforting a lot of the time. “Just do X, and you’ll make it.” (I’ve noticed that the number of books you need to have out to “make it” keeps increasing. From 10 to 30 to 50 in erotica.

Kate: I know. Two years ago, we were talking about having a backlist of 7, to see a bump in earnings. Now it’s much higher.

Ana: 50 novels or do short stories count to that? If it’s 50 novels just shoot me now.

Zoe: 50 of any length. Just releases in general.

Kate: That bothers me, though. I don’t want to just publish, I want to publish good stuff. And I feel like taking the time to put out a well-crafted product isn’t respected right now. This isn’t just restricted to romance, either–I was terribly disappointed with several of my last spec fic purchases. The ideas were great, the concepts were wow, the execution failed them spectacularly.

Zoe: Like I’ve said before, I think we’re experiencing growing pains. I think things will right themselves (or shift more toward the other direction at least) at some point. It’s like Halloween candy. Halloween candy: YAY! right up until you’re near the bottom of the sack, when you’re feeling kind of green, and a steak starts to sound reallyreally good.

Kate: Lol.

Zoe: And I don’t think it’s just on the reader end that things are going to shift. I think many writers will naturally shift. Some will be able to keep up their output, without really growing, indefinitely, but most will either burn out or get itchy to write better stuff, spend more time crafting.

Ana: I burned out on crappy short stories pretty quickly.

Kate: That’s where I’m heading. And, it’s what Chuck says in Tip #19–Stop Caring About What Other Writers are Doing.

Ana: I should probably pin that one to my wall somewhere.

Zoe: I only care what they’re doing when they’re doing something successful I can replicate (unless it’s writing 12 novels a year; I can’t replicate that and keep my sanity).

Ana:Yeah, I can’t always replicate what other writers are doing that’s making them successful. I just have to remember I can find my own way to success instead of panicking over that.

Zoe: And when you do, you can write a self-help book about it and rake in the millions.

I know I have a problem with his #20: Stop Caring So Much About the Publishing Industry. It’s not that I care; it’s just that it goes so well with popcorn. (I should have added The Passive Voice to my list of Things I Waste Time On. Lots of time…)

Ana: I’m in total agreement, and I don’t even like popcorn.

Kate: I think Chuck is talking about people who get overly obsessed, to the point where they aren’t writing because they’re so busy trying to figure out what direction publishing is going in and how to best position themselves and figure out what they should be writing to get that all-important contract. It doesn’t work like that. You write what you’re good at, what interests you, where your heart is. Then you find someone who sees the greatness in it. It might take a while. But it’s the things that make you different that will bring you success, not the things that make you the same.

Zoe: I’m going to sticky-note that last line and stick it to my computer.

Kate: Am I being quoted? Does that mean I’ve made it? Woohoo!

Ana: You win a virtual cookie. Can I just take a moment to say how much I love the word Publipocalypse?

Kate: Chuck has an interesting vocabulary.

Ana: Number 21: Stop Listening To What Won’t Sell, made me think of how JK Rowling was told that children stories wouldn’t sell….

Kate: Which comes back to “It’s the interesting things, not the usual things, that editors want to see.” Look at Kameron Hurley’s books, Joe Abercrombie’s, Anne Leckie’s, even John Scalzi’s first book was on the outskirts of the main trend. Look at the Hugo awards this year. Every one of the nominees had something about them that was not mainstream.


smug kitten

Ana: Lol, you guys…

About the author: Kate Lowell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Email address is required.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.