Self-Sabotage—Three Ways to Make Sure You’ll Never be Published

Self-Sabotage anyone? For your convenience, I’ve put together a list of three things you’ll need to get started on your journey to non-publication.

Right about now I can hear a collective, “What the heck is she talking about—-self-sabotage?” Pffff!

I know, I know, you’d all give up your first born to be published, right? Well maybe not THAT extreme, but I’m willing to bet that at least once or twice you turned your head toward the stars, shook a clenched fist and vowed to do whatever it takes to see your words in print.  I’m also willing to bet you meant it, too.  So why aren’t you published then? I mean if you were willing to do whatever, it should be in the bag by now shouldn’t it?

You’re positive you’ve got talent. Our almost sure. Your fifth grade teacher even wrote it on your report card. You’ve read every best seller ever written and determined that you could do a better job. Heck, your grocery list is more interesting than last year’s Giller Prize winner. You’ve got creativity oozing out of your ears. Your mind is brimming with thoughts so unique and spectacular that your head can scarcely contain it all. Not only that, you bought every writing book known to humankind.  In fact, if you laid those books out end to end you could go around the earth two time with some to spare. You stalk every agent blog in the blogosphere. You’re doing everything just right.

So what’s really holding you back?  Why hasn’t your dream come true?

Poor, poor dreams. We use you, abuse you and toss you to the wayside. And then to add insult to injury we tell everyone within earshot that dreams make us who we are. We even look up inspirational quotes about dreams to prove we mean business and post them in our facebook status or on our blogs.

Now I know that for every dream that we leave in our wake there could be any number of reasons why we abandon them. No doubt if I wanted to, I could make this post go on and on. But I’ll spare you the torture and I’ll name three ways to ensure you’ll never be published. Now listen up. This could come in handy.

1. Practise the art of procrastination. Make it your business to learn all the ins and outs of procrastinating. Milk it for all it’s worth. Procrastination doesn’t tax the body or brain, and much like meditation you’ll find it relaxing, a breath of fresh air. There’s plenty out there to keep you from starting that best seller that’s been bugging the heck out of you since you were in high school. You know that story, the one that just doesn’t want to go away. It’ll get you a million dollar publishing contract as soon as you write, “the end.” Remember while you’re lolling away knee deep in procrastination not to forget that special promise you made to yourself one night after you had one too many beers because in your heart of hearts you just know that everything happens in divine order. A sign will arrive and you’ll know it when you see it. The morning you wake up and your horoscope tells you it’s time to start writing your novel you’ll be the first one out of the gate. But not until the time is right, right? We all have to stick to what we believe in even the staunchest procrastinator among us. The Universe will speak to us in its good old time. No need to worry or hurry. Relax and enjoy the ride. The Universe will provide.

2. Spend a wicked sweet amount of time blogging, surfing the net, tweeting, commenting on other blogs, facebooking and checking email not to mention blogging, surfing the net, tweeting, commenting on other blogs, facebooking and checking email. I did write that twice because you all know the truth when you read it. There’s nothing like good old social media to keep a good writer from becoming published. Write? Who’s got time to write? The next best thing to being published is reading about it on someone else’s blog. You never know, their success might just rub off on you if you hang around enough. There’s plenty more uses for a computer other than writing so you should be safe. And if all this isn’t enough to keep you from plotting your novel just let me say…Pinterest. Find out what’s cool and popular on Pinterest. After all, it could be something you pinned. If that photo you posted of a blade of Kentucky Bluegrass gets repined 52,643 times you need to know immediately. What better way to ensure you never get published then never starting that book you’re writing?

3. Embrace your inner critic. Take her to lunch, throw her a special party. Bring balloons. Not only that become best buddies. The moment you’re sure that the crap you’re writing is never going to be publishable, your inner critic will be right there to agree. Nothing like a good inner critic to knock some sense into you, I say. After all, in every friendship someone needs to be the strong voice of reason.  Not sure if your writing stinks? Your new best buddy will confirm this beyond a shadow of a doubt cause that’s just the way she rolls. You’ve all heard about “kicking yourself when you’re down.” Well, who better to give you an extra little boot than your inner critic? Why waste the effort on yourself? Just stand back and let your inner critic take aim. She’s your BFF. She’s known you most of your life. Admit it, she’s sure better at kicking then you are at writing.

So there you have it three, count them three, ways to ensure you never get published. Follow them to the letter and I’m almost positive that you can kiss that long held dream of publication goodbye.  I mean who need dreams? Don’t thank me now you can do that twenty years down the road when you’re waiting for the planets to align, while listening to your BFF tell you one more time that your writing truly sucks big time. Not to worry though, you can always turn to the internet to whine and complain about those dreams that slipped through your fingers during your youth. It’s never too late to finally give up on your dream.

So here are three things that have worked for me in the past. You might not want to try them all out at once. Maybe you should just ease your way into it and before you know it, you can be playing an active role on your journey to non-publication.

Have you discovered any special ways to ensure you’ll never be published? If you’d like to tell, I’d like to know.

Leave a comment


  1. Gee, I think I have all three of those down pat! No wonder I’m getting no where fast, but of course, I already knew that…it’s kind of like I feel I’m where I’m supposed to be right now, and….I know, yeah right…oh write!

    • Remember, it takes practice to perfect anything, although you’ve already admitted to having it down pat. Seems to me then the only place to go is up… Happy writing, Suzicate. :)

  2. I am so GOOD at procrastination. :) I’ve learned to tell my Evil Internal Editor to take a hike, though. Usually. :)

    • What, no parties with your Evil Internal Editor? No balloons or little cakes? Now if you can get that Evil Internal Editor to kick your procrastination in the butt….lol

  3. Not successful in getting published in mags with cartoons. So I developed a brilliant strategy of submitting genre relevant samples to mags that do not publish cartoons with half a dozen reasons why the addition of cartoons would quadruple their circulation. I was not successful. I guess they don’t publish cartoons.

  4. OUCH! That was painful, Laura! As I read this, wincing, I kept wondering .. what did I say in my latest blog posts to clue her in??

    Yes, blog posts, more of them of late because .. well, topics have been coming to me and I’m a writer, after all. Or so somebody told me. Just not a writer good enough to write good books .. to be published and all that. *sulk*

    Excellent points … did I cover them all? *sigh* Yep, I did!

    • Oh dear. Did your inner critic kick too hard?

      I had a blast writing the post because beneath the sarcasm the truth was staring me in the face. There are many ways to self-sabotage many of us have been perfecting the art for years..

      I have faith in you, Lynn. I know you’re not going to let any of these things keep you from your dream..

      Writ on, my friend. :)

  5. Fastest route to non-publication – stop reading. Reading and writing go hand-in-hand as lifelong pursuits. You need to start getting paid as a blog writer – you’re good! Was that an on-purpose dig at THE SENTIMENTALIST? Hehehe…

    • Not reading is DEFINITELY a biggie. So true, that these go together. Many beginning writers don’t understand the importance. I was probably one of those in the beginning..:)

      I’m thinking of doing a post on getting paid to blog…hehehe

      The SENTIMANTALIST? Was that last year’s Giller Prize winner? Interesting…lol

  6. Editing your manuscript, then editing it again and then waiting a year to edit it again and then rereading to edit again and so on and so on. Editing a manuscript forever is a sure-fire way to not get published.

    • It’s kind of like rubbing a hole in your test paper when you were a kid, isn’t it? Oh, we can spend an exuberant amount of time editing if we choose, telling ourselves that we just need to make it perfect, that letting it set for a spell will bring us back to it with fresh eyes. This is a good way to keep from being published, Diane.

  7. You’ve been in my head again, Laura! LOL! Actually, so has Diane. Editing and revision are my greatest procrastination devices. They combine with the voice of my IC to fill me with doubt that a ms still isn’t good enough. So I escape online to commiserate with my buddies. It’s a vicious circle and it’s self-destructive when it comes to getting published. Then again, I could do everything right and still not get published. ::sigh::

    • Yep, in your head, on your head, under your head. I’ve been all those places. It certainly is a “vicious” cycle and a difficult one to break. Take for instance today, I really should be writing, but I’m here responding to comments on my blog. You all think I’m being polite, but I’m really just procrastinating… See, I do know all the tricks of the trade.

      I do think you need to stop hanging out with that inner critic of yours. Sounds as though she has a strong hold on you, unless of course, your aim really is NOT to be published which I certainly hope it isn’t.. Hmmmm…I think we need to talk about this some more, Carol…lol!

  8. Guilty on all counts.

    • Hey, Tricia, LOVE the new profile picture. It’s terrific.. What a beautiful smile you have, even for a writer who is guilty on all counts. ;)

  9. I’ve nailed the first two, but so far I’ve been able to keep away from Twitter and Pinterest. The inner critic doesn’t stand a chance.

    • Two out of three means you’re making a good effort. If you work really hard you can likely become addicted to twitter and Pinterest. lol.. Keep working at it, Patti. :)

  10. I recognize all three and certainly have been guilty. I also agree with Diane about over editing. I would add, giving up after one rejection letter. That will surely stop you from publication.

    • Oh, I’m certain most of us have fallen into these traps. Getting that first rejection letter might feel brutal, but it also helps prepare us for what’s to come. Writing is not for wimps that’s for sure.

  11. Great post!

    2 and 3 definitely haunt me, but I’ve found the accountability of setting goals and deadlines helps to counteract that bit of sabotage! This year is going much better than last in terms of real, actual progress towards my dream. :-)

    • Your goal setting is definitely a good way to keep you on track. I’ve thought of doing it but have been procrastination. ;)

      Best of luck as you work toward accomplishing your dream, C.B. We’re all rooting for you.

  12. Brilliant and funny, and so true! Thanks, Laura. I needed this today. I’m slogging through a rewrite and really needed the motivation to keep on going.

    • Thanks, Holli.I’m glad you enjoyed the post and that it helped motivate you.

      BTW I tracked down the reason for all the facebook hits today. Thanks for sharing it with your followers, I appreciate it. :)

  13. No, but I have several secrets to assure that I will be published :) Never say never, keep bum in chair, don’t listen to that nag inside your head, love what you do and keep working no matter what. Thanks Laura, you inspire.

    • Your welcome, Florence. I had a lot of fun putting this post together. And hopefully, if anyone out there needs a little boost because they’re feeling a bit down on themselves, they’ll see that negativity often holds us back. :)

  14. Thank you so much for this, I’m glad you found me. Thanks

    • You’re more than welcome. I like to think that humour often helps lightened a situation. At least it can’t hurt. Come back to visit any time. :)

  15. Julie

     /  March 10, 2012

    Darn it, why is Number 2 so much fun? Speaking of which… lol.

    • Glad I reminded you… ;) I sometimes catch myself slacking off too.

      • Julie

         /  March 10, 2012

        On that note, here’s my secret to not getting published.

        Spell memento as “momento” on page one of your manuscript. I guess Spell Check WASN’T crying wolf that time….

  16. fivecats

     /  March 10, 2012

    Hmmm … where does standing in front of the refrigerator, watching TV, talking on the phone fit in: the procrastinating step, the internet step, or is it the unspoken fourth category?

  17. I think I could have written this, Laura, since I practice these three things all the time! Thanks for the reminder that I’m not alone in practising sabotage.

    • Some posts resonate with us because we’ve all been there,myself included. Sometimes it`s nice to know that we are not alone. :) Thanks for dropping in and for leaving a comment. I`m heading over to check out your blog!

  18. #1- reading this is part of my procrastination training, which is going very well.

    #2 – yep, can’t wait to check my email for the 100th time today.

    #3 – not so much as being critical, more likely fighting with each other about a single word than the whole story.

    though I have no dream of publishing, only the idea of letting people read/see what I create.

    fun read! thanks. I hope you have a sweet day.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Lissa. I think we’re all guilty of self-sabotage.We just can’t seem to help ourselves. Hopefully, in time we are able to work through the things that stand in our way and hold us back.

  19. Hi Laura. Sorry I’m late. Great points, and so true. I hope I never fall prey to any of these conditions, but even as I say that, right now painting the house is getting in the way of my writing.

    • Joylene, I know you’ve been busy concentrating on your next novel, as you should be. No needs to apologize. I’m glad your writing is going well. :)

      I’m in the midst of painting the kitchen myself, but we do have to come up for air every so often. It’s nice to have something other than our WIP to work at.


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