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.
You’ve sat on the couch with your laptop for long enough. You’re a real writer, and you deserve a professional writing space of your own. A place where, by the mere act of sitting there, your brain engages into WORK MODE. A place where inspiration can find you. What makes desks so great for writing? Desks are renowned for their flatness, which makes them ideal for both computer-based and paper-based writing.
So what kind of desk do you need? As a writing-advice columnist and Famous Author, I am required to say here that the best desk is the one that you’re sitting at, so pretty much any desk will do—if you’re a conformist, mindless NORMIE, that is. C’mon, we’re going shopping.
- IKEA: A simple, elegant desk never goes out of style—nor does cursing at the confusing instructions of IKEA furniture. If you succeed in getting the desk built, however, you’ll love it, along with all the other clever household goods you didn’t need but decided to buy anyway. Bonus: your time spent observing all the couples having relationship-ending fights in the IKEA store will pay big dividends when you write your novel.
- Thrift store desk: A great way to save money, as well as absorb the residual inspiration from all the stories written at this desk in the years before you bought it. This desk could tell some pretty amazing stories of its own. How much junk mail was casually chucked onto it? How did anyone get this elephantine monstrosity into, then out of, their house? Why did all of its previous owners die? Why have I felt a malevolent presence ever since I brought this thing home? Can you believe it only cost thirty bucks?
- DIY: Why spend a bunch of money on a cookie-cutter desk that anybody can have? Building your own may consume all your available writing time for the next three months, but you’ll have your dream desk at only 104% of the cost of buying a similar desk at Target.
Creative adjacencies impact a writer’s work itself. Choosing what to read or watch–how much are you looking for stories that lie adjacent to your own material?
Trained by reading hundreds of submissions, editors and agents often make their read/not-read decision on the first page. In a customarily formatted book manuscript with chapters starting about 1/3 of the way down the page (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type), there are 16 or 17 lines on the first page. Here’s the question: Would you […]
What book changed your life? As tempting as it is to give a lofty, literary answer, the truth (for me, at least) is probably A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I read over and over and over, or C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which upset me so much (the shaving of […]
This post is the next in the ‘All the King’s Editors’ series, the brainchild of WU contributor Dave King. In this series, WU contributors edit manuscript pages submitted by members of the larger WU community, and discuss the proposed changes. This is intended to be an educational format, and we hope this exercise will generate useful […]
David Corbett isn’t just a generous WU contributor, he’s the award-winning author of the writing guide The Art of Character (“A writer’s bible” – Elizabeth Brundage) and six novels. His short fiction has been selected twice for Best American Mystery Stories, and his non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, Narrative, Bright Ideas, and […]
The writing life is a whole shit-ton of guessing and experimenting and hoping, and then finding someone to tell us that we stink in some places and are pretty brilliant in others. Knowing what prose to keep and what to toss is subjective—at least until your readers read your published book, then subjection goes all […]
There has been a lot of chatter in the Twitterverse lately about sales numbers, hitting the lists, debuts, sales expectations, and (the often inevitable) disappointment. Writing a book is hard. Getting that book published? Harder still. Maintaining a career in publishing? Probably hardest of all. There is no question that all of those require a […]
In college, I was in a dance improvisation company that gave me a healthy appreciation of the way constraining creativity can help it move forward. Our on-the-spot performances were informed by suggestions from the audience. It usually went something like this. “What would you like to see a dance about?” our director would say. “Love,” […]