Professor Wu's Rulebook

21 things no one tells you about becoming a writer

PEM-NAE-00023 Næsvold Garveri i Tromsø
A writer in its natural habitat. Photo by Naesvold Garveri

“Catching the muse”; “Doing an Ernest”; “Shooting the black stuff”; “Clobbering the pencil”; whatever you want to call it, the decision to chuck in your job security, risking debt, isolation and insanity in favour of a career as a writer is undoubtedly a momentous one. But being prepared for what awaits you on your writing journey is vital as you pursue that first publishing contract. So here are just a few of the things you need to know as you set out on your journey.


  1. You no longer use pens: you use The Porlington Pontiff.


  1. All the important scenes in your books take place on hot air balloons.


Why would you even consider setting your scene anywhere else? Photo by Jaybee Bondoc
  1. The thought of wearing a waistcoat fills you with unbearable excitement.


  1. You use poems instead of more traditional methods of currency


  1. The majority of your stories involve men gradually transforming into smartphone cases


  1. You discover the real name for a duck is actually a cazoogle


  1. When you run out of paper, you’ll be surprised at how often you end up writing on significant others, strangers on the street, and family pets.


  1. Your favoured item of clothing attire quickly becomes the Lucifer Thigh Throttler


  1. You’ll complete your first novel in less than thirty minutes, and spend the next twenty four years working out what to do with it.


  1. Books need watering, like plants. But you must never feed them in the afternoon.


  1. Nothing gets the creative juices going like hanging upside down like a bat, slapping yourself on the cheeks shouting “No, no, no, no, no!”


  1. Every coffee stain has a poet in it. They’re just really small and they all look like Sylvia Plath.


  1. As a writer, you no longer drink water: you’re only able to drink a long-forgotten Scotch Whiskey known as Blackbeard’s Watercloset.


  1. Most of the characters you write about will come alive at some point. The majority of them are fabulously rude and only eat oysters. The best thing to do is ignore them: they will go away eventually and become rejected contestants for The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent.


  1. The only way to cure writer’s block is by making a human pyramid with at least seven world leaders.


  1. You’ll receive a call from your favourite author, who will tell you the secret ingredient in Quorn meatballs.


  1. In order to find a literary agent you must perform a mystical ritual. This means purchasing an Apple Macbook, visiting a chain coffee store (preferably owned by a company that doesn’t pay tax), and drinking a mocchalattecino while reciting the 5th Amendment of the American Constitution. You must also be wearing your best pair of Seamen’s Curtains.


  1. When it comes to choosing what laptop to buy, the bigger the better.


  1. On your third night as a writer, William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe will visit you in your dreams. You must choose to make out passionately with one of them. Choose wisely.


  1. Writing Flash Fiction really is as easy as writing the word “flash” over and over again until your word count reaches 500.


  1. Strangers will always be offering you free vegetables.
Get ready to see a lot more of these. Photo via Flickr

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