Thirteen common writer superstitions

It being Friday the 13th, here is my take on writers’ superstitions. You know, those odd little ideas that help us make sense of the bewildering, unfair, and totally alluring business we’re in.

1) Authors with names at the beginning of the alphabet do better than any others.  The idea apparently started as the desperate theory that if your name starts with A or early Bs, people don’t have to stoop to find you in the bookstore.

2) It’s all who you know. If you’ve got the right agent, know the influential editors, get introduced to the in-crowd, you’ll have a hugely better chance at publication.

3. People will steal my ideas. Yes, I’ve seen that guy too, the one lurking by my recycle bin on Wednesdays. He’s a failed writer. He knows I’m working on a hot idea. Although I’ve torn my draft in half and mixed up the pages, he’s going to spend his weekend pasting them together. I know what you mean, man!

4. My work is rejected because it’s too good. Publishers want crap because it sells. (This superstition is particularly soul-killing, in my opinion.)

5. My cat is the source of my inspiration. Enough said.

6. You can’t be a real writer unless you have a cat. While cats sleep, they apparently contact the Great Story Source and channel stuff to you. So while they look like mooching, lazy, arrogant creatures, they are actually semi-devine.

7. A small advance will handicap your book. The publisher won’t “get behind it.” Corollary: A big advance, you’ve made it!

8. If your fingernails are different lengths, you will write drek. I happen to believe this one.

9. Reviews predict how a book will do. We should all place great store in these pronouncements.

10. One’s agent has an uncanny ability to predict how a book will do. The corollary: Rejection by agents means your novel sucks.

11. You are born with a certain amount of talent which dictates your success as a writer. (Another soul-killer.)

12. I am competing with other writers. It’s a dog eat dog world.

13. One must always have a little notebook to capture stray ideas. Come on, have you Ever forgotten a great story idea between the toilet paper aisle and home?


12 Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    But you have to admit that keeping your fingernails different lengths can make typing uncomfortable.

  2. I must go looking for a cat immediately! My dogs are clearly not emitting the right vibes!

  3. ‘Real’ writers sleep around, smoke, and drink heavily. They can’t stay in relationships because of the demands of their art.

    Guess I’ll never make it as a ‘real’ writer.

  4. Kay says:

    Yes, but how about EXACTLY the same length? Like within nanometers. This is the superstition. And I, like, totally believe it.

  5. Kay says:

    Yup, that one is a powerful superstition. It may ultimately even turn out to be true, if believing it makes one a more confidant writer!

  6. Janet says:

    Forgotten an idea between the toilet paper aisle and home? I’ve forgotten ideas in the time it takes to find a pen! Not only that, I also … what were we talking about?

  7. Glori says:

    I’m so glad I found this site!
    I love your Introvert’s guide to writing series. I am an introvert myself and I have just recently started blogging, although I’ve been writing my whole life…
    Oh and I don’t know about others but I MUST HAVE A NOTEBOOK or a piece of paper or a pen. LOL… One of my quirks.
    I easily forget ideas and I jumble them up in my mind…
    Am I even understandable?

  8. Kay says:

    Little notebooks are not superstitious unless you take them to the grocery store and on hikes. That approaches a level of belief that is problematical on two levels: one, the idea that the universe will drop an idea on you in the toilet paper aisle (serious superstition) and two, that the idea will be taken away within twenty minutes. But I must admit that sometimes I tuck a little notebook in my purse hoping, hoping… Thanks for liking my Writing for Introverts series!

  9. Michael says:

    I got an idea in the shower, once. And I take long showers. I mean, what am I supposed to do with that? I can’t write in the shower, and I never have a notebook with me in there, for obvious reasons. Fortunately, I remembered my idea long enough to finish my shower and find a notepad. I guess you’re right. We can retain ideas for a little while.

  10. Kay says:

    No fear! Showering without our notepads. 🙂

  11. Glenda says:

    I keep threatening to install a whiteboard in my shower, because that’s where I have my best ideas.

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