When Writers Go Wrong Series: A Guest Post by Vanessa Robins

“In the Now”

by Vanessa Robins

’Tis the season for family gatherings and questions.

“What have you been writing?”

“Have you gotten anything published?”

“Still no boyfriend?” (Don’t even get me started on the answer for this one.)

And the question to end all questions: “What are you going to do next?”

A writer’s world always seems to be in the future. We plan out our lives by how many words or chapters we need to write this month, what will happen at the end of our book, or even what our plans are for publishing this soon-to-be-finished-just-kidding-I-went-off-schedule-manuscript.

For writers, it seems like we’re always buying monthly planners, writing in them, erasing them, burning them, and buying new ones. Why do we constantly make plans for the future that distract us from the writing we should be doing now? If you don’t finish that manuscript, there’s no point in you making plans for queries, publishing, or God forbid, scheduling a book tour.

Writers get inside their heads too much—at least I do. We answer our family’s questions about five- and ten-year plans including new houses, well-paying jobs, and hypothetical children with our hypothetical husbands and wives when what we should be doing is focusing on our book’s hypothetical ending. This is where writers go wrong.

We should be listening to our good old pal Horace and “seizing the day.” We should be focusing on filling the pages in front of us with everything we’ve imagined and hoped for. We shouldn’t be worried about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. Nike might sue me for this, but just do it, people. Just write the words you want to write and deal with the future later.

So, when your great aunt Gladys pinches your cheek and asks your plans for the coming year, give her a laundry list of everything you’ve already done—all the conferences you’ve been to, the words you’ve written, and the characters you’ve created. Be proud and boast about yourself. You deserve it.

And when they ask about a boyfriend, shove that pumpkin roll in your mouth and rapidly walk out of the room fake-choking because nothing is worth answering that question.



Note from V: I think it’s pretty obvious why Vanessa is one of my favorite people. Just think, someday, she could be YOUR literary agent! Check out her CLA page, follow her on Twitter, and creep on her blog for updates.

4 thoughts on “When Writers Go Wrong Series: A Guest Post by Vanessa Robins

  1. Come on, this is a cinch.

    Q: “What have you been writing?”

    A: (Looking worried) “Why, what did you hear?”

    Q: “Have you gotten anything published?”

    A: “Quite a lot, actually. But I had to take a pen name to protect the family.”

    Q: “Still no boyfriend?”

    A: “Well, I had a good contender last month, he was an athlete. But when I told him about my family, I learned he was a sprinter.”

    Q: “What are you going to do next?”

    A: “I’m going to finish my mashed potatoes. Then, I’m going to stare at you for about four minutes while I pretend to be interested in what you’re saying. After two more glasses of wine, a slice of pie, and three bathroom breaks, I’m going to excuse myself, go home, take off all my clothes, and work out my frustrations through interpretive dance in front of Jimmy Fallon. Shower, masturbation, sleep, the end.”

    1. LOL interpretive dance for Jimmy Fallon. Personally, I prefer sexy yoga with Trevor Noah. To each his own.

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