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.
Raise your hand if you’re still managing to meet your writing goals during a global pandemic.
Ha! Trick question! If you were really writing, both hands would still be on your keyboard. And you know what? That’s okay! It’s hard to find the mental energy to create when so much of it is consumed by work, social distancing, missing friends and loved ones, keeping kids safe during the new school year, and just trying to stay alive. If you’re stressing about your writing career, go easy on yourself—you’re already doing a lot more than you think. A lot of your daily tasks are perfectly valid parts of the writing process. Don’t believe me? Let’s review a few everyday tasks that totally count as writing time.
- Outline. Create a roadmap of where you want your story to go.
- Research. Such a broad category, it could encompass pretty much anything, from reading up on medieval weaving techniques to eating a 2 a.m. snack that your stomach will regret come morning.
- Sit on the couch drinking cocktails all day, fighting off the ennui. This is kind of a writing stereotype, so don’t be afraid to change things up by embracing the ennui.
- Daydream about your characters. Talk through your characters’ dialogue while you’re driving to pick up your groceries. Run through your villain’s monologue while you take a shower, since there’s some nice reverb in your bathroom. Call someone in your critique group and talk through how your protagonist would handle a certain situation, then just talk for a while because it’s nice to hear a real human voice, you know?
- Plot your revenge against your mom’s boss who’s still making her come to work despite the fact that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and she could easily do her job from home.
- Create a spreadsheet of your exes and evaluate them on a variety of criteria including, but not limited to, attractiveness, personality, fun-ness, sexual compatibility, and likelihood of giving a lovesick fool one more chance.
- Write a scene in which your protagonist makes a detailed spreadsheet of their exes.
- Take your third shower of the day just so you can get some time to yourself to think, clear your head, and sob uncontrollably for a few minutes without getting interrupted by the kids.
- Call your loved ones. This is basically just rehearsing dialogue. And given the fact that any of them could get sick at any time, it’s also laden with dramatic tension and foreshadowing.
- Get into a heated argument on social media.
- Burn candles in a pentagram to summon a demon, ghost, anything to keep you company, you’re just so lonely.
- Call up one of your exes to check up on them and make sure they’re doing okay in these wild times. Be sure to hide your disappointment as you tell them how it’s great that they lucked out and found someone right before lockdown started.
Now that you know how many of your daily activities count as writing time, you can rest assured that you’re always moving your career forward. As a writer, it’s comforting to know that, even during a once-in-a-century plague, no matter what you’re doing, you still don’t get a day off from what amounts to a second job that you don’t get paid for.
What are your favorite nontraditional writing tasks? Share your tips in the comments!
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