Ho ho, very droll – last night someone presented me with a copy of a book called ‘Creating Writing For Beginners’. You get this sort of thing a lot. But nothing quite like this book, by someone called Jim Green. It’s one of the most unintentionally hilarious manuals I’ve ever skipped through. First of all, it’s clearly self-published. Second, it’s bogus. There’s a clue in the opening sentence…
”I took up writing on a part time basis seventeen years ago and to date have churned out 47 published titles, all of which have attained bestseller status.’ Did you spot the awkward word verb there?
Here he is on thoughts. ‘Everything that does happen and materialise starts first as a thought in the mind. You will have many thoughts as you prepare to start writing.’ Then Jim asks a list of very important questions.
1. How can I tell if I have what it takes to be a writer?
2. Isn’t it a bit late to be finding out now?
3. Wouldn’t this impose disciplines that conflict with my lifestyle?
4. What do I know that could fill a book?
Here are some of the chapters: ‘Determining Your propensity For Writing Niche Non-Fiction’. ”Using Magnetic Verbs To Create’, Softening Your Awareness’ and ‘Grasping Ideas As They Occur’. I have no idea what these mean, but never mind. Let’s plough on before we start churning out bestsellers all over the place.
Under ‘Commanding the Subconscious’ we get to the root of the matter. ‘The subconscious is the seat of reaction and emotion and when the reader absorbs benefits that are created with verbs these benefits literally turn into commands for the subconscious. For example, the phrase Create Unlimited Profits is a stimulus to act. The subconscious is compelled to comply because that’s what it does. If you can be effortlessly drifted into a trance the hypnotist will rapidly prove that the subconscious acts on commands. Make 100 percent more money in six weeks!’
There are several zillion pages of this drivel, but I like Jim’s honesty; Here’s a key chapter – ‘The WIIFM Question and why you must Address it’. Apparently the most important thing to remember is WIIFM – or ‘What’s In It For Me?’ At one point Jim explains that one of his motivations for churning out 47 bestsellers, apart from what was in it for him, was his ‘Almost encyclopaedic knowledge of tramcars’. By the time we get to the end of the book his total number of bestsellers has risen to 49, presumably because he accidentally churned out another two while writing this. But not before Jim imparts a final word of wisdom under a chapter called;
‘Little Known Secret To Controlling the Floodgates’ (No, me neither)
‘It is as uncomplicated as steering clear of the seasonality factor when choosing a topic for execution. This sounds like a contraction in terms but it is not. A topic can be current but with inherent strands of durability attaching; conversely, a topic that is seasonal is almost certainly a fad or fashion and temporary in nature. The identification of longevity is the little known secret to injecting bestseller potential and thus opening the floodgates to the prospect of a successful first impression followed by subsequent actions. It calls for concentrated effort where introspection, intuition and research have a part to play.’
And here we have the problem of the new self-publishing fad or fashion bestsellers; any imbecile can place their ramblings into a book and con people into forking out for it. The press is full of stories about bestselling phenomenons. The publishers of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ legitimised this sort of random untrained typing and soon a film studio will legitimise it further – and so the world drowns in nonsense while great writers are consigned to the dustbin for being, in some lazy PR hack’s opinion, no longer relevant.
That’s why I write the ‘Invisible Ink’ columns – to try and remind us that the power and beauty of language that has already been published to acclaim is now in danger of being lost to whinnying morons.