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Vintage WD: How to Keep From Writing

In this humorous article from 1955, writer John F. Silleto gives readers a clear outline for how to procrastinate that work-in-progress.

Writer's Digest, August 1955

By John F. Silleto

WD Vintage_Silleto 12:10

The following rules have been devised by this writer to avoid the onerous chore of actually creating new material while maintaining the outward appearance of a sincere, struggling scribe. After all, nobody really wants to write, but practically everyone wants to be thought of as a writer. Follow this simple ten-point plan and you can't miss.

  1. Continually re-survey and re-evaluate market lists.
  2. Periodically re-read old manuscripts with an eye to re-submission to re-evaluated and/or new markets.
  3. Periodically revise manuscript records and files.
  4. Maintain a liberal supply of doodling material in desk: i.e., budget book, unpaid bills, shoeshine kit, nail file, etc., etc. (This keeps you busy at the desk and avoids the danger of being discovered dozing by the suspicious wife.)
  5. Sharpen all pencils before starting work each day.
  6. Clean typewriter typeface daily.
  7. Keep desk and writing books free from dust
  8. Maintain a writer's journal and make an entry each day, no matter how trivial, before settling down to commercial matters.
  9. Hold frequent story conferences with other writers or sympathetic relatives.
  10. Get lots of sleep. 
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