You Need to Make These New Year’s Writing Resolutions

Hacks for Hacks by Bill FerrisWarning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.

Leave the old year behind like a burning house that you nonchalantly walk away from, and consider 2014 your suspiciously large insurance check. Restart your writing career fresh by making these writerly resolutions for the new year.

  1. Lose weight, quit smoking, and cut back on caffeine. Ha! Just kidding. Seriously, can you even imagine? Let’s keep our resolutions realistic and attainable this year, shall we?
  2. photo by gigi_nyc
    photo by gigi_nyc

    Celebrate National Novel Writing Month every month! Remember, remember, the month of November, when you wrote and you wrote till you dropped? If you can write a novel in a month once, there’s no scientific reason you can’t maintain that pace all year long. By the end of the year you’ll have like three entire detective series, or half of an epic fantasy series. I mean, what have you been doing December through October, eating bonbons? Get to work! (Note: This article is published on January 18, so you’re already behind).

  3. Get an agent and get your work published! You’ll now have twelve books to choose from, so your odds are that much greater. Think how excited agents and editors will be when they can look forward to receiving a tome from you EVERY MONTH. It’s like they’ve received a free membership in a book-of-the-month club, which is the kind of thing people give as gifts!
  4. Watch less television. TV time is time you could spend as time for writing time, so it’s time to give up your idiot-box habit. This is a serious commitment, and you can show how serious you are by telling everyone you know how you don’t watch television.
  5. Upgrade your word generation machine. By which I mean your computer. Consider getting an laptop or iPad, too, so you can create on the go. You’ve just signed on to write twelve books a year, bub; you need the ability to crank out words every second of the day. You might start to think of your computers as shackles. Oh, you say you hadn’t until I mentioned it? Well, it’s not, probably. There, now your mind is at ease!
  6. Adopt an animal companion. Writers need a support structure in place to listen to problems and enable your whim-based decisions. You squeezed all the pulp from your personal relationships last year, so it’s time to make some new friends–the kind who won’t say “Sorry, I have plans!” every time you call. Cats are great–they’re cuddly, and just independent enough that you can read human-like emotions into them. If you’re put off by cats’ general disdain for human endeavor, remember that you control their food supply. Also, if they sass you, just get another, cuter cat. Repeat this process as many times as necessary. You might alternatively consider acquiring a brace of hounds. Strong and loyal, dogs will always be glad to see you, and never tell you your protagonist is passive and uninteresting. Plus, they’ll look awesome in your author photo next to the fireplace and a hunting rifle. Speaking of which…
  7. Perfect your authorial look. The harsh winter months are a perfect time to start your Hemingway beard, as well as your Hemingway drinking problem. Invest in a white suit like Tom Wolfe. A Neil Gaiman-like leather jacket will make you stand out whatever the occasion, especially when worn over the white suit. If you’re a fancy lady who wants to dress fancy, please consult your web-pinny thing for outfit ideas.
  8. If you stumble, give yourself a pep talk. There’s a good chance you’re going to break some or all of your New Year’s resolutions. At times like these, it’s important to pump yourself up with a thorough self-excoriation for your failures. I’ve heard it said that we would never be friends with someone who talked to us the way we talk to ourselves. It’s true, and that’s why it’s so important. Nobody else is going to light into your underachieving butt. I’m seeing a therapist because I’m still beating myself up for breaking my 2009 resolutions. How’s THAT for some tough love?

The harsh winter months are a perfect time to start your Hemingway beard, as well as your Hemingway drinking problem. 

You’ve undoubtedly got a few resolutions of your own. I encourage you to heap on some added ideas and responsibilities to everyone’s plates by posting them in the comments section. And remember: If you do manage to achieve your resolutions, there’s a good chance it’s because you didn’t set the bar high enough. Disappointment and hardship have fueled many great works. With any luck, this could be a positively disappointing year. Let’s get to it!


About Bill Ferris

After college, Bill Ferris left Nebraska for Florida to become a rich and famous rock star. Failing that, he picked up the pen to become a rich and famous novelist. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with his wife, Jen, and his sons, Elliott and Wyatt, and he looks forward to a life of poverty and ridicule.


  1. says

    LOL. Actually, I do agree with point #4. I went TV-free fourteen years ago. I can’t say I’ve written more than I would have otherwise, but I definitely have read more. Missing the whole run of “The L Word” was worth it. I think.

  2. says

    Grin – love these. I’m with Donald on no. 4, which I tell my writing classes all the time. To find the time to write, you have to give up something. I gave up television and the gym. The latter is obvious.

  3. says

    I sold m TV 25 years ago to make a point to my daughter. She stomped into my room and said,”great, mom, now there’s nothing to do around here but read.”
    I’ve noticed that the answers to my writer-riddles seem to pop up while I’m walking the dog or waiting in line at the PO. File cards in the pocket do the trick. Plus I now have yellow legal pads planted all over the place, even at my mother’s. Really, thank you for the go-go-go attitude. It made my morning.

  4. says

    I’ve resolved to start carrying around a gigantic hardcover book of agents (who are all dying to read all twelve of the novels I’ll write this year) along with my assortment of laptops. It won’t leave me with as much room in my bag for my feline consultants, but I figure hauling around all that extra weight everywhere I go means I can forego formal exercise. Besides, I should get a pretty good workout trying to get leashes on the cats – not to mention the cool scars I’ll acquire. Think of what that will do for my authorial look!

  5. says

    Love these! #3 made me laugh. Book-of-the-month club!!!

    And I’m feeling extremely writerly with the rodent on his wheel, the cat in front of the monitor and a dog by my feet as I type.

    Like many of you, we’ve been TV-less for decades. We did acquire one 3 yrs ago, but I never turn it on. My husband and kids like watching sports and I like to write :) I didn’t realize this at the time, but it’s probably the best thing I did for my kids. They eat books.

    I’ll add a resolution for all you single people: Marry well :)

  6. says

    Interesting article Bill. I like number 2, “Celebrate National Novel Writing Month every month”. I think there’s a reason NaNoMoWri is only once a year. A big push like that can be exhausting and at the end there are lots of other tasks that have been ignored and need to be caught up on. You’re right though. We don’t need to go hardcore only once a year. I get into obsessive writing several times a year. Then, life raises other responsibilities or problems that must be dealt with and I go back to the old slow and steady writing pattern. I bet with practice a person could write hardcore every day. A few well known writers have mentioned how there are a certain number of dedicated hours they write every day. That leaves the rest of the day to clear up those other responsibilities and problems. Thanks for the article.

  7. says

    Great tips! Do you now Barbara Cartland, the UK romance novelist, wrote over 700 books in her life time? She must have written about 12 books a year. If she could do it … so can the rest of us!

  8. says

    Long time listener, first time caller.

    I am going to go with trying to look and act more like a writer.

    If I can’t manage growing a beard, wearing more mock necks, going from nine Rum and Cokes a night to ten and looking through people with my disappointing gaze from over my glasses as they nearly fall off the end of my nose……I might have commitment issues.

  9. P.S. Joshi says

    I enjoyed this very much, but it made me feel guilty. I’m a beginning writer and need to work harder on finishing my first book and a short story I’m attempting to write. A cat might work as a companion for a writer who attempts a book every month, but dogs take a lot more care and time unless someone in your home is willing to take on the task while you tap away at the computer.

  10. says

    1. I could lose a few pounds, and I quit smoking years ago. Quitting coffee is simply not an option at this point–though I could probably ingest less of it.

    2. I try to work on a novel and a short story every day, or at least on alternating days. The key word there, sadly, is try, so I could probably get better at this one.

    3. Once the novel is done, I’m sending it out to agents. Believe me, I’m way ahead of you there.

    4. Doing okay on this one. I don’t watch much television, and outside of baseball and football games, I DVR everything so I can save time by not watching commercials. I probably watch less tv than anyone else I know. Just a couple of shows, really. For example, I just finished watching Game of Thrones, Season 1, because I didn’t watch it when it came out years ago. And I’d rather watch a good series all at once, anyway. Who wants to wait a week? And, again, it saves time this way.

    5. I already have a laptop. I can use it more often, though I’m still more comfortable on my PC. I write in little books when I’m on the run, so this one is going okay.

    6. I adopted a greyhound about 6 years ago now. I even wrote about it last year and sold that piece. He’s been the best!

    7. I’m told I look like an author already, whatever that means. I’m told I look like something else, too, but that’s not fit for a family blog such as this.

    8. I’m bad at the pep talks. All writers need to forgive themselves a bit more when they don’t meet their goals, when they get rejected, etc. I surely need to get better at this.

    Thanks for a great post!

  11. says

    Bill, cogent advice. I write with the television up as loud as possible, so that I can insert random lines from shows into my stories. Hey, it worked for William Burroughs. I also keep a wolverine as a pet and I take it everywhere, because it makes checkout at supermarket lines very fast.

    But my biggest 2014 resolution is to punctuate with wild abandon. Thus: ;:””?!—!|_.

    (I’d throw an interrobang in there, but I save those for when I’m drinking.)

    Fun read, thanks.

  12. says

    Well done article! I will adopt the “NO TV!” resolution. The “Pets” reco will be easy to accomplish, what with 4 dogs (Including a English Mastiff puppy that weighs in at 207-lbs., 4 cats, and two parrots, one which throws peanuts at me from its cage whilst I’m writing. Will print out this article and post on refrig. Thanks!