WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Resolution solutions

 

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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.

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18 comments on “Resolution solutions

  1. Phillip McCollum
    January 16, 2017

    There’s something wonderfully Twain-ish about this. Thanks Kevin!

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 16, 2017

      Thanks, Phillip! I’ll take a Twain comparison any time I can get one!

  2. Carrie Rubin
    January 16, 2017

    I may need this advice in the summer too when it’s hard for me to want to sit down and work!

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 16, 2017

      Suits all seasons! Hope you’re not getting glazed with ice back there, btw …

      • Carrie Rubin
        January 16, 2017

        Luckily no. It’s actually been pretty decent. 30s to 40s though tomorrow is supposed to be 55! In Ohio. In January.

      • Kevin Brennan
        January 16, 2017

        Wow, you’re doing better than we are, here in Northern Cal.! Freezing today …

      • Carrie Rubin
        January 16, 2017

        But climate change isn’t real…

  3. John W. Howell
    January 16, 2017

    I always use January as the kick-off month for a new novel. Just seems right somehow. Thanks for the advice, coach.

  4. pinklightsabre
    January 16, 2017

    Perhaps because I’ve hit some magical age (I mean technically, we’re always getting older right?), this January I’m really enjoying not giving a shit about the house. There’s that. My wife Dawn has gone bananas over sorting stuff out but as a result, is just getting to parody with my normal MO. I resolved to at least READ my last draft, but made no proclamations about rewriting it. But I might give myself a workback deadline, we’ll see. December sounds good. Clarifying, like butter.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 16, 2017

      I like “getting to parody.” I believe I’m gonna use that one! 😉

      • pinklightsabre
        January 16, 2017

        What’s mine is yours.

  5. Audrey Driscoll
    January 16, 2017

    “Writers seem to be more susceptible to taking advice from complete strangers who declare themselves qualified to dispense it.” So true! Has to be that inner critic who seems to be standard equipment for most of us. And all those rejections, of course. But seriously good advice here, nevertheless.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 17, 2017

      Rejections do make us a bit vulnerable, eh? I learned to avoid rejection by refusing to send out my work! 😉

      • Audrey Driscoll
        January 17, 2017

        Moi aussi. No longer “submissive.” 😊

  6. S.K. Nicholls
    January 17, 2017

    “Wait till April to do something different.” I’m going to Vegas in April and I’ve never been. It’s all research for a book that I’m outlining that will, hopefully, be published by next January. It’s a rough first outline. I usually start in word without an outline, then, as the details become more complex and there is more to keep up with, I pull out my outline and rework it. I’m not even sure the final draft will have the Vegas parts. This thing is still gelling in my mind, scribbled mind maps on loose papers and notebooks, the backs of napkins, lists of things I don’t want to forget scrawled on the back of grocery receipts. Oh yeah, there’s that one document on my PC called, “Funny Shit”. I am calling on you to beta read. I’ll be happy to send you a copy of book one, so you know what you’re up against with book two. You’ve got a few months to consider.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 17, 2017

      Hey, I’d love to beta book II! Thanks for thinking of me. I already have Naked Alliances, so I’ll move it up my TBR list. 😉

      I have Vegas scenes in “Fascination,” but I think Vegas is a state of mind and rigid accuracy isn’t always needed …

      • S.K. Nicholls
        January 17, 2017

        Good tip on Vegas. I really want to do some people watching. A friend who just returned from Vegas told us about a little old lady who sat downstairs in their hotel every morning playing the slots, smoking little cigars. She said there are no rules about not smoking in buildings and people do whatever they please. That’s the sort of thing I’m looking for and I want to be there to know what is authentic.

      • Kevin Brennan
        January 18, 2017

        People who really know Vegas will dig that you got it spot on. I’m sure it’s worth the effort to do the research.

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This entry was posted on January 16, 2017 by in Publishing.
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