Warning: 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.
New Year’s resolutions are for suckers. The problem with resolutions is that they’re unrealistic, and you have no structure in place to accomplish them. I’m here to fix that. This is NOT a list of resolutions. This is like what success coaches call your five-year plan, except it’s a one-year plan, so it should be a snap. Here’s a roadmap to making 2017 your most satisfying and productive writing year of your life.
- January: Begin the year with hope. Buy yourself a new calendar. The months are open and white like a snowdrift unbesmirched by footprints and dog urine. This is the ideal time to start writing your new novel! Set a reasonable goal and give yourself ninety days for a first draft.
- February: It’s cold. Start wondering how long until spring. Try selling Valentine’s Day copy to greeting-card companies. Send them a snarky card when they tell you they need their ideas six months in advance. Keep trucking on that novel, you’re two-thirds done!
- March: Send out some short stories to magazines. You should’ve been doing this anyway, but this is a friendly reminder to keep you on task. And this is a not-so-friendly reminder that you should be wrapping up your first novel draft, right? RIGHT?!
- April: Set aside the first half of the month to do your taxes for all the books you sold last year. If you didn’t sell many (or any) books, reserve this time for crying softly in the dark. You can spend the second half of the month finishing the novel draft you were supposed to finish in March.
- May: You’re not really used to planning things this far in advance. I mean, they could have flying cars and faster-than-light travel by then! There’s a good chance they’ll have a device that can extract the words for your novel directly from your brain.
- June: The rejection letters from those short stories you sent out in March should start arriving. Spend the rest of the month in an coffee-fueled anxiety attack and revise each piece until it’s barely recognizable. That way, maybe someday someone, somewhere, will finally love you.
July: This is the time of year when your friends invite you and your family to spend a week at their beach house. Take a week off from work and enjoy a nice, relaxing vacation. By “relaxing,” I mean use every available second of free time to finish up that novel. When you get back to your regular job, you’ll be rested, refreshed, and most importantly, elated to get away from your book for a few hours every day.
- August: Like July, but hotter.
- September: Write a short story per week. Don’t worry about writing for a market or anyone else; this is straight from the heart, just for YOU. Be bold! Let your imagination run wild! Express yourself without qualification or judgment. You’ll have lots of time to feel shame and self-doubt next month.
- October: The leaves begin to change to a fireworks display of orange, red, and gold. Similarly, the pages of your unfinished manuscript are starting to yellow with age. The words go stale. You have an urge to simply toss them into the bonfire with the leaves you raked from the yard, the paper mingling with their tree-born kin. “You think you’re better than me?” the leaves say to the haughty pages. “Not so profound now, are you?”
- November: It’s National Novel Writing Month! Think how excited you’ll be to put off writing your other book so you can almost-but-not-quite finish another one.
- December: Okay, this is it. You’re finally going to finish the book. You say that every month, but you’re bound to get it right sometime. And on December 31, while your friends are engaging in banal tribal rituals like getting loaded and making out while watching the ball drop, you’ll be punching in the final keystrokes to your literary masterpiece. You want to celebrate with a drink with friends, but your invitation to your buddy’s party seems to have been lost in the mail.
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What’s on your writing agenda in 2017? Let us know in the comments!