New Year’s Resolutions While in the Novel Incubator

1. Reduce ratio of calories consumed to words written. Remember that while Cheetos are orange like carrots, crunchy like carrots, start with a c like carrots, they are not actually carrots.

2. When people ask what the Novel Incubator is, explain properly, instead of screaming about your next deadline. They think you are part of a cult. While this is not entirely wrong, it also makes strangers offer to rescue you and you do not want to be rescued.

3. Stop silently being jealous of your classmates’ impeccable writing style/deft hand at plot/ability to kick deadlines in the face/sense of humor, etc. etc. Instead, get aggressive. Find out where they live, and plant yourself on their doorstep demanding they take you on as an apprentice. Novel Incubator lasts one year, but the bonds forged by stalking your classmates are eternal.

4. Stop using running as a crutch to avoid writing. Running feels good but does not actually produce words. Yes. There’s a difference between feeling good and producing words. The latter begets the former, but feeling good rarely results in producing words.

5. Sign up for another marathon. As you discovered during the first trimester of Novel Incubator the week-long run is perfect for working out plot kinks, building up core strength for long writing sessions, and feeling very very productive when you haven’t written for three weeks and your revision is due at midnight.

6. When people ask you what your novel is about stop staring at them and saying:

i don’t know, you tell me, what should it be about, was i really meant to be a writer, am i the chosen one like Harry Potter except with words not wands?, is there any meaning in the written word or was Nietzsche right, God is actually dead and that means there’s no God of writer’s block, so we’re actually all lost souls screaming in front of the blank page with no hope of salvation except to keep forging on like you are the music and life is a dance floor….

Actually, when you meet strangers learn to just say “hello/how’s the weather/I like baby llamas and strawberry jim-jams, do you?” like a normal person.

Actually, screw meeting strangers, just stay inside and write.

7. Give your novel a title that uses real words and omits four letter words, poop jokes, or any references to death, illness, mental trauma, root vegetables and Putin’s liver. Your novel is not about Putin or turnips.

But should it be?!

8. Stop RSVPing “yes” to Novel Incubator alumni parties because “networking counts as working on the novel,” and then changing the RSVP to “no” because of “creative urges/deadline/both” and then watching Taylor Swift music videos instead.

People will think you are a degenerate.

Also stop telling people about how much of a degenerate you are.

Also switch to Justin Bieber, because you are very very very sorry. Sorry.

9. Make a new year’s resolution actually related to writing more instead of you know, avoiding writing.

10. Write. Write. Write. Write. Write like you are the Pillsbury doughboy full of joy and love and carbs and words like tah-dah, write like words are streaming out of your orifices and fingers in pale pliant rainbows because all those carbs you ate have got to be good for something, write like Putin and his demonic root vegetable army are chasing you and the only thing that will stop them and save the world is another page, write like the polar bears on the melting ice caps will be saved by each word even though they are probably part of Putin’s secret turnip army, write, write, write, write…

That, or become a Buddhist monk taking a vow of eternal silence. That might be easier.

10 comments

  1. Carol Gray

    Hah, I love this piece, Shalene! “Give your novel a title that uses real words and omits four letter words, poop jokes, or any references to death, illness, mental trauma, root vegetables and Putin’s liver.” This sounds way, way too familiar.

  2. Leslie T

    Yes, great post! “Novel Incubator lasts one year, but the bonds forged by stalking your classmates are eternal.” — Truer words were never spoken…

  3. Judy Kessler

    Clearly God is not dead because She has dictated to you the 10 commandments of how to actually finish your book! Oh, wait, I bet you actually wrote these words without divine intervention. Divine Darling (you may parse that with or without comma)…

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