Murphy’s Laws of Writing


(1) You are more likely to be interrupted when you’re in the middle of a very deep thought. Silencing your phone, sending the kids out, and disabling the doorbell simply inspire Murphy’s creativity.

(2) Your muse will abandon you whenever you need her the most. But don’t worry: She’ll return as soon as you become too preoccupied to write.

(3) Your best ideas are most likely to come when you don’t have anything to write with or to write on. You’re also likely to be frequently interrupted between your moment of inspiration and the moment you’re able to jot it down.

(4) Whenever you correct a set of typos, you introduce some new ones.

(5) The fewer words you write, the greater the chances that there will be a glaring typo.

(6) Your worst typos are most likely to occur in the most prominent places, such as the first paragraph of the book or the book description.

(7) It’s much easier to see somebody else’s mistakes than it is to find your own.

(8) Not checking your preview or proof is like waving a large red flag with Murphy’s name on it.

(9) If you’re not sure about something that you’re writing, but don’t take the time to check, it will probably be wrong. However, if you do take the time to check, it will probably be right.

(10) The more people who read your writing, the greater the chances that there will be an embarrassing mistake in it. Presenting it to a large audience via PowerPoint improves the odds.

(11) After submitting revisions, if you quickly thumb through your book, your eye is very likely to spot a typo.

(12) The more frequently you check your sales report, the more likely you are to be disappointed.

(13) The more frequently you check your book reviews, the more likely you are to be disappointed.

(14) You’re much more unlikely to see a sale post on your report while you’re spending money.

(15) A good review is 100 times more likely to disappear than a bad review.

(16) One stupid comment that you make in the most remote corners of the internet is far more likely to generate publicity than anything else that you do.

(17) If you only have one copy of your file, this improves the chances that the file will become corrupt. The closer the book is to completion, the greater the odds.

(18) If all of the versions of your file are stored on the same computer, this improves the chances that the hard drive will crash.

(19) If you download a program to help with your book without paying attention to where the file is saved, it will be buried in the least obvious place.

(20) If you need to revise your book, but didn’t keep track of the location and name of the most recent file, you’re more likely to reintroduce old typos when you correct new ones.

Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers (Volume 2 now available)

5 comments on “Murphy’s Laws of Writing

  1. Love it! I’ve found ways around a few of these (my muse and I now have A System) and ways to appreciate others (such as typo that I’m still giggling about a year later). Mind you, said typos have never showed up in public…

  2. Amen to #12 & 13! Also, i would add to the list — If you don’t write that brilliant idea/line of dialogu/story point down because you think you’ll remember it later, you won’t.

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