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Coffee shop in Hanoi. PHOTO: Sarah Lofgren

How to Become an Important Novelist.

Everyone has a novel hiding somewhere in their head. Maybe it’s just the kernel of an idea hanging out in the thalamus. Maybe it’s a bit further along, inching over toward the frontal lobe. Either way, most people will never write their novel. Why? Well, to put it bluntly, they aren’t smart enough.

You have to be really, really smart to write a novel. The first thing you should do is go out and get your IQ tested. If you measure up, then there’s nothing to worry about. Go forth. Write your novel. I’m sure it will be awesome. Most would say the ideal novel-writing IQ is somewhere in the 144+ range.

But what if you aren’t smart enough?

What if you don’t fall within the ideal, novel-writing IQ range, but you’ve still got the itch? Is it hopeless? Or are you doomed to become one of those tragic chaps who sits around talking about the novel they’re going to write “one day”? While they have jobs and raise families and go on vacations and buy houses and cars and invest wisely in their 401Ks instead? Like losers?

This article is for you.

I’m here to tell you that there is hope. Even a perfectly average human can write a novel.

The first thing you’ll want to do is create the perception that you’re a smart, writerly type. Consider bringing a pipe with you everywhere and, whenever you want to be taken seriously, pull it out of your pocket and give it a couple puffs. It’s best if you keep the pipe in the inside pocket of a tweedy, ill-fitting blazer. No one ever questions the intelligence of a pipe-smoker (so long as it is the right kind of pipe). Make sure that, in all your photographs, you’re holding the pipe up to your mouth and preferably wearing a pair of wire-rimmed glasses. Stick to black and white photos. If you do this, you’ll find that slowly your image starts to shift from “that weirdo in the corner” to “Writer Guy (or Gal)”. It worked for me.

Appropriate topics of conversation:
- Agents
- Procrastination
- The Hobbit
- Coffee
- The Industry

Inappropriate topics of conversation:
- Sports
- Snapchat
- Batman
- Frozen Pizzas
- Tetris

Next you’ll want a sweet writing machine. Portability is super important, because you want to make sure you can take your sweet writing machine out in public where everyone can see you writing. Another benefit to this is that you can also make snide twitter updates about the strangers surrounding you, which is a very important part of the writing process.

Don’t let anyone catch you playing tetris on your sweet writing machine! That is not what it is for.

I recommend finding a writing machine in an exciting color, because it will help you seem quirky and unique. You don’t want to blend in with all the peons at the coffee shop who are working on novels that aren’t as good as yours will be. If you can find a few stickers with writing puns you can stick on your sweet writing machine, that will give you additional cred.

To be a successful writer, it also helps if you get rid of your television. I know this is extremely difficult, because there are so many good shows right now, but nothing beats the feeling of smug satisfaction that comes from being able to tell someone,“I don’t have a television. My writing comes first.” Watch them shrivel before your superiority.

Bring it up a lot. If you’re going to make this sacrifice, it’s best that many people know about it.

It’s also best to cancel a lot of plans. Just send your friends the following text: “So sorry! I really wanted to see you today, but I’ve got momentum with this scene and I have to see where it goes. Rain check?”

They will be so impressed.

After a long day of writing and posting on twitter, head to your local pub. It should be kind of dirty, with low ceilings. Remember that, many years from now, tourists will visit this spot to see where you hung out prior to birthing your masterpiece. So the proper mix of dishevelment and romance is important. You owe it to those tourists.

Order a drink. Not a craft beer (those aren’t for writers), but something cheap in a thick glass. Remember that alcohol feeds the muse. If anyone comes to talk to you, unburden yourself upon them. Explain the torturous qualities of your life. How painful it is to hold such potential within you.

Talk for as long as possible, then stumble home and get some sleep. Tomorrow brings another day of writerly fulfillment.

Eventually, if you keep this up for long enough, you’ll have a novel.

*pulls pipe out of pocket*

*takes a puff*

Good luck, my friend.

Hi! I’m Sarah. I’m new to Medium, so if you enjoyed this article, I’d love your claps or feedback. You can also follow me on twitter or check out my portfolio. Thanks for reading. 😄

Written by

Engaged in inadvisable wordsmitheries and other creative acts. http://sarahlofgren.com

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