1. Being a drunk
Who made it popular: Hemingway, Joyce, Faulkner, Bukowski.
Why it’s no good: It’s an old, shopworn conceit. Drinking does not improve your writing (only your perception of your own writing when reading under the influence). Drinking only serves to give you something to write about, a distinction I hope is not lost on you, dear readers.
2. Suffering for your art
Who made it popular: Oscar Wilde, Dostoyevsky, H.P. Lovecraft.
Why it’s no good: Dying poor and destitute is no way to leave a legacy. Rich people don’t name fountains after people who used to bath in them. Better to get a job that pays the bills and write on the side.
3. Being suicidal
Who made it popular: Hemingway (again), Virginia Woolf, Hunter S. Thompson, David Foster Wallace.
Why it’s no good: Did Virginia Woolf get to watch The Hours? No. Did Dr. Thompson get to see Fear and Loathing? Yes. What’s the lesson? People who kill themselves get boring movies made about their lives, whether or not they live to see them.
4. Being handsome
Who made it popular: That Tad Guy
Why it’s no good: You can teach grammar, you can teach punctuation, but, my dear readers, you can’t teach handsome. It’s better that you accept it now, lest ye fall into one of the previous three clichés.