1. Live in two cities.
Although it can seem daunting to have to pay for two houses, it is crucial that on the back flap of your book, it says that you live in New York City and ___________ (choose a second, usually more rural location). Do not underestimate the importance of having two homes to being a writer, despite seeming to have nothing to do with telling a story. Do not ask why—go and do.
If costs are prohibitive, consider making one of your houses out of rocks or dirt, by hand. Be sure to mention this on the dust jacket.
2. Choose either obscure, literary words, or tiny, baby words as your medium.
Little words and big words do not get along, and therefore, cannot both be utilized on the page.
If you go literary, include "obfuscate," "anachronistic," "deleterious," and so on. Your themes should be alienation, loss, materialism, and possibly the jaded nature of bloated, contemporary America, sinking into an abyss of its own making.
If you go for the tiny words, themes can be broader, such as how many drinks your group of alienated American friends drank in countries in Europe in the old days, how America used to be great when you could ride your horse all over the damn place without roads getting in the way, or how the South is so complicated with its entwined heritage of hate and dependency. All fun, manly topics!
Women should be half-developed and mostly vapid, primarily included so that your main characters can notice their blue dresses and red mouths at dances or on the street. Include plenty of scenes on how to kill animals, build fires, and other outdoorsy pursuits! Be generous in the inclusion of violence and that ultimate symbol, the gun. The answer to your most burning writing-related question revealed: yes, when in doubt, put in more guns!
3. Do not waste precious writer's time watching television.
TV's for the plebs. When not writing, you need to pursue any of the masculine pursuits mentioned in number 2 (unless you're a black man, because that would be seen as threatening—best to stick to fishing or other wholesome activities).
How many endangered African animals have you killed? Jeez, you're going to have to work on that.
Have you ever had to fly a plane when the pilot died or camp in the woods for weeks without contact with other humans? If not, what the hell have you been doing? Are you sure you really want to be a writer?
Even if your topics aren't the rugged type, you still have to climb mountains, discover dinosaur bones, and do all the other interesting things the rest of us are too busy watching TV to get out and do. We're counting on you to write about it, so that we can watch the movie based on your book when it comes out on Blu-ray.
4. Spend time on Twitter and other social media talking about writing, or anything else that comes to mind!
Sharing your moment-by-moment thoughts about daily life is an under-appreciated part of being a writer.
Butter? In the tub or by the stick?
Fabric softener? Yes or no?
The inspirational messages in Pat-the-Bunny?
We need to know your thoughts about these topics and we need them now.
Could your constant updates interfere with your actual writing? No, just include them in your newest book, devoting entire pages to various tweets, status updates, and Snapchats as part of your story's natural flow. Readers will learn to love it, guaranteed!
5. Have a difficult childhood.
Now, I know this one is a toughie. It would be hard to go back and change being a white man from a well-to-do family into being an immigrant from a hard-scrabble, working-class background (something you so desperately need to be an author). One easy thing to do is check around with relatives—surely there was an alcoholic in the family at some point, or at least someone who wrote a bad check once.
Even if every generation of your family went to college since the Pilgrims landed, break free from your bourgeois chains by dropping out for a while and working in Canada as a logger. Or at least hang out with loggers in bars, soaking up their stories. For the rest of your life, frequently refer to your time in Canada and the deep, abiding friendships you made in the six months you were there.
As a last ditch effort, become a heavy drinker and smoker yourself while slumming around in the seamy backstreets of America. Before re-enrolling in Harvard, that is.