25 Things Writers Need to STOP Doing

About a month ago I found this list. If you’ve already clicked the link and scrolled into the article, you may have noticed the author’s freedom in using profanity (that is, if you didn’t notice his warning at the top of the post). I’m no fan of swearing, but I found his list had a great many good points I wanted to share. Thus the idea to create a more “family-friendly” version of his list was born. I took his 25 main points, with a few short lines that supported them well, and created 25 letter-sized “posters” of his 25 Things Writers Need STOP Doing.

Some of you may simply be pleased that I’m finally sharing some of my artwork, but I really encourage you to read them all. Almost all of the points can be applied to more than just writing…

stop running from your story 

 If you want it,

you have to pursue it,

it doesn’t work the other way around.

Pick a story and work towards finishing that story.

stop stopping

Momentum is everything.

Cut the brake lines.

Careen wildly and unsteadily toward your goal.

stop writing in someone

else’s voice 

You have a voice.

Don’t try to write in somebody else’s voice.



maybe you do this in the beginning.

But strive past it. Stretch your muscles. Find your voice.

stop worrying 

It does nothing.

You recognize a roadblock and arrange a path around it

you don’t chew your fingernails bloody worrying about it.

Shut up.

Calm down.

Keep going.

stop rushing it 

The rise of self-publishing has seen

a comparative surge forward in quantity

but not quality. ‘

Give your stories and your career

the time and patience it needs.

stop waiting around 

Life rewards action,

not inertia.

To reap the rewards of the future,

you must take action in the present.

stop thinking it should

be easier

It’s not going to get any easier,

and why should it?

Anything truly worth doing requires hard work.

stop deprioritizing

your writing 

Don’t put it at the bottom of your to-do list.

You know you’re a writer because it’s not just what you do,

but rather, it’s who you are.

So why deprioritize that thing which forms

part of your very identity?

 stop treating your body

like a dumpster

 The mind is the writer’s best weapon.

It is equal parts bullwhip, sniper rifle, and stiletto.

Stop bloating your body with awfulness.

Eat well.


Elsewise you’ll find your bullwhip’s tied in knots,

your stiletto’s so dull it couldn’t cut

through a glob of canned pumpkin,

and someone left peanut-butter-and-jelly

in the barrel of your sniper rifle.

stop moping and whining


like worry, like regret,

like that little knob on the toaster that tells you

it’ll make the toast darker

does nothing.

Don’t like something? Fix it or forgive it.

And move on to the next thing.

stop blaming everyone else

You’re going to own your successes,

and that means you’re also going to need to own your errors.


sometimes external factors will step in your way,

but it’s up to you how to react.

stop being ashamed

Writers are often ashamed at who they are and what they do.

Other people are out there

fighting wars and fixing cars

while we’re, sitting around in our footy-pajamas,

writing about vampires and unicorns,

about broken hearts and shattered jaws.

Craft counts.

Art matters.

Stories are important.

stop lamenting your mistakes

Don’t dwell.

Don’t sing lamentations to your errors.

Repeat after me:

learn and move on.

Very few mistakes will haunt you till your end of days

unless you let it haunt you.

stop playing it safe

It’s time to start taking some risks

both in your career and in your storytelling.

Throw open the doors.

Kick down the walls of your uncomfortable box.

Carpet-bomb the Comfort Zone

so that none other may dwell there.

stop trying to control what

you know you can’t

All that out there?

All the industry and the reviews

and the Amazonian business practices?

The economy?

The readers?

You can’t control any of that.

Control what you can,

which is

your writing and the management of your career.

stop doing just one thing

Diversity of form, format and genre

will help ensure you stay alive in the coming

entirely-made-up Pubpocalypse.

stop writing for The Market

The Market is an unknowable entity

based on sales trends and educated guess-work

and some kind of publishing haruspicy.

Writing a novel takes long enough that

writing for the market

is a doomed mission.

stop chasing trends

Set the trends.

Don’t chase them like a dog chasing a Buick.

Don’t be a knock-off purse,

a serial killer copycat,

or just another fantasy echo of Tolkien.

Do your own thing.

stop caring about what

other authors are doing

They’re going to do what they’re going to do.

You’re not them.

You don’t want to be them and they don’t want to be you.

Why do what everyone else is doing?

Let me reiterate:

do your own thing.

stop caring so much about

the publishing industry

Know the industry,

but don’t be overwhelmed by it.

stop listening to what

others say won’t sell

You’ll always find someone

to tell you what you can’t do.

What you shouldn’t do.

That’s your job as a writer to prove them wrong.

stop overpromising

and overshooting

Don’t overreach.

Concentrate on what you can complete.

Temper risk with reality.

stop leaving yourself

out of the story

You are your stories and your stories are you.

Who you are matters.

Your experiences and feelings and opinions count.

Put yourself on every page:

a smear of heartsblood.

If we cannot connect with our own stories,

how can we expect anybody else to find that connection?

stop dreaming

Start doing.

Dreams are intangible and uncertain looks into the future.

It’s time to wake up.

stop being afraid

Fear will kill you dead.

You’ve nothing to be afraid of

that a little preparation and pragmatism cannot kill.

Everybody who wanted to be a writer

and didn’t become one

failed based on one of two critical reasons:


they were lazy,

or two,

they were afraid.

~ by R.S.Sharkey on August 15, 2012.

6 Responses to “25 Things Writers Need to STOP Doing”

  1. Thank you for making those look all pretty, Vili! :D I really appreciate you taking the time to clean up writing articles. I still use your modified 90 question character quiz all the time. :D


  2. These are really cool! I agree with Rose, thank you for cleaning up writing articles for safe consumption. ;)

  3. […] along with the list of 25 Things Writers Need to STOP Doing (my blog), I found a companion list called 25 Things Writers Need to START Doing (TerribleMinds […]

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