The 12 Steps For Writers

Photo of stairs against grass by Tom Tiernan

Writers write, they don’t necessarily know how to count

The 12 Steps For Writers

  1. Admit that you are powerless over writing and that your life will never become manageable.
    • Admit that you’d rather write than: take your kid to little league, visit your parents, talk to your spouse, clean your house, take a shower, wipe yourself, be social in any way or have sex.
    • Admit that you have made up excuses to cancel dates because a character finally revealed herself to you.
    • Admit that you’d rather bite off a puppy’s tail than sacrifice your art or use a gerund inappropriately, whatever a gerund is.
    • Admit that you weren’t born with scoliosis; your back is messed up from too much time at the keyboard. Save that dramatic headline for the truly gullible.
    • Admit that you don’t care how many tears, false memories, suicide attempts or nervous breakdowns you cause your readers as long as they buy your books.
    • Let’s face it, you’ve got serious problems.
  2. Come to believe that writing is a power greater than yourself and that it will never restore you to sanity. You can deny this but your colleagues know different.
  3. Make a decision to turn your will and life over to whatever collection of lyrical, flowing, soul inspiring, self-serving, self-aggrandizing, egotistical, barely literate words you consciously fill your screen with: Implausible fiction, suffocating poetry, even more implausible love stories, non-fiction for numbskulls, irrelevant history, whiny memoir. Yeah, like this doesn’t apply to you.
  4. Forget about making a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself. You’re a writer. You have no morals, no principles, no ethics. There are no lines you won’t cross. Being a writer means you make shit up for a living. That’s what you do. Own it and move on.
  5. Admit to God, and anyone foolish enough to listen, the exact nature of the writing you’re working on right now. It’s not fair to keep all the laughs to yourself.
  6. Obviously you don’t have any defects of character, so you can skip this step.
  7. Humbly ask God to remove any story inconsistencies, grammatical errors, etc, so you can hurry up the editing process and get on the Best Sellers list. If you have children, offer God your first-born provided He gets you on the New York Times Best Seller list. Don’t forget to throw in a gaggle of geese. If you don’t have any kids, get busy.
  8. Make a list of all the people who have harmed you and write them into stories that will necessitate a name change. Squeeze them till it hurts. Bury them once and for all.
  9. Even if the person who harmed you makes amends continue to write them into stories. Change the name a little so you don’t get sued. But above all continue punishing this putrid piece of dog vomit because he/she had the temerity to offend an erudite, urbane member of the elite literary establishment.
  10. You’re never wrong, only possessing a more enlightened point of view, so you can skip this step too.
  11. Pray and meditate on developing a better vocabulary, understanding the difference between plot and theme, and how to develop more effective marketing strategies for your work.
  12. Having never come close to an actual spiritual awakening, promise that you’ll carry this message to other write-aholics and to practice these principles whenever you are having affairs.

Oh, and by the way, this is for you other artsy creative types too. You didn’t think you were getting a free pass, did you? Get off your high horses and join the rest of us immortals!

Tom Tiernan ©2013



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