Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Putting on my life coach’s hat again, I feel like the beginning of the year is a good time to dispense a little advice to aspiring writers.
These points apply to more than just writers, of course. It’s just that writers seem to be more susceptible to taking advice from complete strangers who declare themselves qualified to dispense it. C’est moi.
First, let’s get rid of the notion that the beginning of the year is some magical moment when you can make changes that will put you in a better position at the end of the year. Half the things you resolve to change now will be dim memories in December, so why bother? Wait till April to do something different.
However, because the weather is generally bad in January, you might as well stay inside and write. But don’t try to force that novel onto the page. Instead, write aggressive letters to the editor. Vent some steam. Or sign onto your favorite websites and troll the hell out of the comments section under a fake name. That’s a form of fiction. Set as a goal the unhinged overreaction of as many people as you can, because this is what persuasive writing is all about. Making people feel something they didn’t feel before. It’s entertaining too.
Find new ways to distract yourself in these dark winter months. I, for instance, have rediscovered online “flags of the world” mahjong. You can fritter away hours at a time, letting your brain drift into a milky ether where plot, characters, and style don’t reside, where you’re nothing but pure being, and where the shame of your stories getting rejected by blatantly amateur websites is forgotten in a cascade of clicking Chinese tiles. Therapeutic.
You might also consider using January to cull your book and story ideas, eliminating the ones that make no sense. Don’t be surprised if none of them make sense, in which case you’ll want to start from scratch and begin scribbling cryptic notes for next year’s culling, notes like, “A man remembers that he dreamed it all, then forgot.” If you can do anything with that, knock yourself out, but I’m betting you’ll want to let it go one year hence.
From a practical standpoint, you could get started on your spring cleaning. Notice that your baseboards have a thick layer of dust on them because you’ve been avoiding them for at least a year. Observe the cobwebs drifting in the corners of the ceiling and whack away at them with a broom, scattering fine, powdery dirt all over your drapes. If you have silver, polish it. If you have cheap Ikea china, throw it off your deck onto the cement patio for the cathartic release of it. Then go to Ikea.
As for myself, I use January as a time for recalling that procrastination has its positive side. It gives me more to do in the other eleven months, until I realize that I have far too much to do in December, when I push everything into January.
Tips you can use from the life-coaching office of What The Hell.