Philosophy of Writing – 1 – Avoid Mediocrity

Posted on July 20, 2011 by


How Not to Write a Novel

[Written in 2012 but changed to #1 in the “Philosophy of Writing” series.]

Let’s pretend for a moment that my silly little Philosophy of Writing series is a useful workshop or a university class rather than something that has been inconsistent and possibly entirely unhelpful. If that were the case, “How Not to Write a Novel” would be my textbook of choice. “How Not to Write a Novel” covers every kind of mediocrity possible, and at every level of writing.

The authors of the book have no idea I’m heaping such praise on it, by the way; I didn’t get a promotional copy or anything. No, I found in a bookstore. I picked it up and started reading, and then three hours later I got a call on my mobile asking where I was and what I wanted for dinner. At some point I vaguely remember maneuvering into one of the fluffy armchairs they put in the less travelled corners of bookstores. I recall muttering things like “Oh my god that’s so true,” under my breath whilst frightened bookstore patrons developed a sudden pressing need for the loo, or an intense interest in the Biography section where there was none before.

I hope to be a professional writer at some point in my life – and until then, my advice is questionable at best. Please at least take this one piece: go forth and obtain a copy of “How Not to Write a Novel”, with all haste. Borrow, buy or beg (but please don’t steal).