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.
As 2019 draws to a close, many writers find themselves limping to the finish line. Stories unfinished. Manuscripts unsold. Goals unmet. Attitude: ennui.
Here’s what you’re going to do: You’re going to take the rest of the year off to lick your wounds. Then, when the new year begins, you’ll start fresh, your mind and body rested, your hopes sky-high, because next year is going to be different for some reason.
- Start a new project, just because. How long has it been since you’ve felt the energy, exhilaration, and infatuation that only comes when you start something new? Yes, this wears off. I know, you’ve got a bunch of other unfinished projects that all started out with this exact same feeling. That’s why I’m also suggesting that you…
- Pick a new pen name. Free yourself from the baggage of the old you with a new pen name. Your pen–name persona has all of your talent, but none of your hang-ups and bad habits. Eventually, your shabby, everyday personality will infect your marvelous new nom-de-plume, so you’re in a race against the clock to get your new project done before that happens. If it doesn’t work, and your pen name fails you, at least it will be a cheap funeral.
- Buy new pens and notebooks. If you’re getting a new pen name, better grab new pens to go with it One thing this time of year teaches us is that most problems can be solved by buying things, and nothing is more writerly than buying some nice new pens and a bound leather journal.
- Buy a new computer. It’s Christmas, so what better time to buy that new laptop? Well, probably on Black Friday. But go ahead and indulge yourself anyway! Your old one is slowing down, possibly because of all those weird websites you visited for “research.”
Set your alarm. No, earlier. It’s hard to find time to write in this busy world of ours. So many interruptions and distractions! The early morning hours will provide the refuge you need from the hurly-burly of daily life. Think of your writing schedule like a post-holiday clearance sale; Finding time to write is easy if you choose the hours that nobody else wants. You can enjoy your day guilt-free, satisfied that you’ve already gotten your writing done for the day, which now ends at 8 p.m.
- Make a symbolic gesture. Burn your old writing. It feels good to let go, doesn’t it? Watching those embers go up the chimney, all those wasted hours you spent on that work, all the parties you turned down, the games with the kids you didn’t play, in service of this manuscript no publisher would touch. “Why are you burning your story? You worked so hard on it!” your sweet child says. You explain that you’re making a fresh start, unencumbered by your past work. “Is that the book you were writing when you said you were too busy to go play catch or go to my band concert?” You begin to sweat.
How are you making a fresh start? Share your wisdom in the comments!
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