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.
Publish date:

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. 

20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.


Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.


Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.


Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.


Gerald Brandt: Toeing the Line Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Science fiction author Gerald Brandt explains how this new series explores the genre boundary and how he came to find his newest book's focus.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Moment of Doubt

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character experience a moment of doubt.