1. Each morning, recite the affirmation, “You are my favorite woman writer.”
2. Remember that writing should be fun! As you struggle to write, ask yourself why you consistently fail even at having fun.
3. Research other writers you admire until you find one shorter than you.
4. Instead of writing your thoughts, speak them into a voice recorder. Listen back. Are you saying “centaur” correctly? Cen-tour. Cen-tar. Cen-tu-ar. What about “caramel”? What about “Oregonian”? “Ignominious”? “Saiorse Ronan”?
5. Type out a copy of a story that you admire. Email it to your worst-read friend, with the subject line MY LATEST STORY. Next time you try to write, remember that friend who thinks you’re very, very talented. Insinuate yourself more deeply into that friend’s life. Angle for a standing brunch date. Order the frittata; it’s excellent.
6. Join up with a group of local writers to create an informal workshop. Ask each of your new writer friends if he thinks you’ll ever get married.
7. Write your greatest fear on a Post-it note. Place the Post-it at the corner of your eye before applying liquid liner, to create the perfect cat-eye.
8. Go for a walk around your neighborhood, unless you’re too tired. You look pretty tired.
9. Visualize the book you want to write. Think about it every waking hour until you begin to believe that it already exists. Send query letters to agents, describing your book in excruciating detail. If anyone responds, send her an email entreating, “Please find my manuscript attached!!” If she notes that you’ve failed to include an attachment, ask her what kind of money you can expect from a first book. Tell her it’s not enough. Ask him if you can be honest: that you’re in a bad way. This “writing” thing isn’t panning out the way you’d hoped. Tell her no one warned you. Admit that this is a lie. Promise you’ll never lie to him again. Thank him for his time, ;-(!
10. Write the worst poem you can. What a terrible poem you will have written!
11. Write like a French woman, allowing yourself fingertip-sized portions of everything.
12. Flash fiction—TOO SLOW.
13. Write a poem in the form of a personal ad. Post it on Craigslist. Begin dating the first person that responds. Try harder to make the relationship work than you’ve ever tried at anything. Forget about writing poetry; this is more important. Get engaged. Throw yourself into planning the wedding. How about renting a photo booth that comes with a cardboard moustache on a stick? How about a wooded glen lit by synchronized fireflies? Debate the merits of one large cake versus several small cakes. Remember that no one considers popsicles a legitimate dessert. Buy a page-a-day calendar and pre-burn all the pages that come after your wedding. Decide to have children, and do it thoroughly. If anyone asks whether you’re writing much these days, regard them blankly. As your children grow up, tell them, constantly, that they’re your best friends, that they’re the only good things you’ve ever made, and that they make your life seem like less of a mistake. When they ask you what your life was like before them, permit your face to cloud over. Permit yourself to raise your voice. Tell them that there was no before. Say it like a threat. Trust that they won’t ask again. Encourage them to study Mandarin and chemistry. Tell them that writing is an important skill to cultivate, alongside other skills. Speak about it impassively, as you would of a low-sodium rice cake. Ignore the distance growing between you and your children until it becomes an abysm. Too late, struggle against it, widening it further. Reconsider. Buy healing crystals. Be more tactile. Talk about sanctuaries and energy and mindful sitting. Close your eyes for effect. Get to work on that book!