#2. Writing in Public
When it comes to writing, I imagine that almost everyone is more disciplined that I am. Stephen King famously said in his book On Writing that, every single morning, he locks himself in his home office and writes 1,000 words. I understand how he writes that much every day, but I don't understand how he does it in one location. I have a desk here at the Cracked offices and a desk at home, and while I can usually sit and work at them without issue, once in a while I need to get out and away. The food and television in my apartment become too distracting, the lack of direct sunlight in our office makes my brain hurt or any other damn thing gets to me. The point is, something snaps in my brain that makes it impossible for me to continue writing in one location.
This place is a prison!
The obvious solution is to head to a coffee shop and write from there, except you've been to a coffee shop full of idiots poking away at their laptops, and you hate every single one of them. So do I. Every coffee shop is full of bearded, scarf-wearing bohemians claiming to be writing screenplays on their MacBooks when really all they're doing is ordering coffee and dressing and acting like the kind of person who might have an idea for a screenplay. They're eager to talk about their post-apocalyptic steam-punk novella, or writing in general, to anyone who will listen, which is exactly what everyone else in the coffee shop is trying not to do.
"God, having so much trouble with this third act. Of my movie. The first two acts are solid, though. Hey, you guys all know I'm writing a movie, right?"
Or maybe that's not what the writers are doing. Maybe they're genuinely writing amazing screenplays, but that doesn't matter: The stereotype already exists. It's so strong that, whenever I mention going to a coffee shop to get some writing done, the inner bully that I didn't even know lived inside of me comes out and tries to give me a wedgie. Showing up at a coffee shop with a notebook or laptop, I always feel like I have to apologize to everyone who sees me. Or else I just pretend I'm not writing.
"Don't mind me, just looking at some good ol' porn!"
#1. Playing, Owning or Holding an Acoustic Guitar at Any Time
My roommate in college was an amazing guitar player, both acoustic and electric. My oldest brother is also an incredible guitar player, and most of my coworkers are pretty great as well. I've know several good acoustic-guitar players, and they're all fairly pleasant.
I have never, in my life, seen a stranger at a party playing acoustic guitar and thought to myself, "Yes, I want to meet that fella and be his friend."
Photos.comNot once, buddy.
It takes a special kind of person to, even when not solicited to do so, produce a guitar at a party and start playing (where here "special" means "awful"). And it's a real shame, because I like playing music, but I'm afraid to get an acoustic guitar, because I know that, at some point, I'll have to walk around outside holding it, whether I'm going to a friend's house to practice or heading to a gig. I don't want to do that, because any time I've ever seen someone walking around with an acoustic guitar I've instinctively thought, "Oh shut the fuck up, guy, we get it."
Photos.comNo one cares, pal.
I'm terrified that if I owned and practiced a guitar, I'd join the ranks of everybody else who owns and practices a guitar, which would mean I would be compelled to say, "Yeah, I play a little guitar, I guess I consider myself more of a 'singer-songwriter' than anything else," at any opportunity. And I don't want to be that guy, and my theory is that no one wants to be that guy, but everyone becomes that guy, and there's nothing they can do about it.
(Yes, being awkward means making every decision based on how random judgmental strangers on the street might perceive you. Welcome to our club. Once a week we meet at a bar where the music is too loud and the bathroom stalls don't have doors. We hate it.)
Daniel O'Brien is Cracked.com's Senior Writer (ladies), and he rides his bike to bookstores, (but he's very sorry).
For more from Dan, check out 4 Great Artists Who Make it Really Hard Not To Hate Them and 5 Things They Never Told Us.