EsmeraldaHow did you “break into” hack writing? Are there any tips you could give me on how to become a full time writer?

I have to admit that hack writing is something I just drifted into. So I guess tip number one is to enter into a numb state where nothing really matters except setting one foot before the other to make it to the other side of the void. It helps if you’ve recently been through a divorce and lost your job.

Tip number two is that you do need a few writing credentials that you can shine up so they sound more important than they really are. You may need to do a few no- or low-paying jobs in order to get a mediocre portfolio together. Yahoo is always looking for “fresh new voices” that they can take advantage of. I hear they now pay .05 cents a click!

Which takes me to point number three: You need a website. And please don’t throw together some WordPress piece of shit with broken links or, for god’s sake, scanned-in print articles. Find a friend who can build and maintain a professional-looking website, sleep with him, and then just send him a constant stream of emails demanding that he update or tweak your site. Also detail what you’re willing to do for him in return. This interaction/transaction will give both of you an interest and get you through the roughest parts of your respective divorces.

Tip four is simply to find people who need you to write things and then write them. Being a professional who meets deadlines can overcome many shortcomings in your writing. Plus, let’s be honest, many clients don’t want good or interesting writing because what they’re selling is neither good nor interesting.

I think I saw you at the supermarket the other day. When was the last time you took a shower?

Now you’re just pulling my chain, buster. The number-one perk of being a freelancer is complete freedom from personal hygiene standards. I’m sure you could tell by the stubble visible beneath my “yoga pants” that I haven’t showered since the fall. There isn’t any reason to, really. Even with the annoying uptick in video conferencing as a form of business communication, I find that I just need to brush my hair, wash my face, and put on my special video conferencing blouse to look presentable. And of course, I tuck the sweater that I wear at all other times during the winter into a spot that no camera can see. The clients can’t smell me so I’m good to go.

And anyway, no one is expected to look respectable these days. We’ve become a nation of purposeless hobos with low expectations and broken dreams. Sure, people need to dress up when they work in important places like London, Beijing, or Mumbai. Here in America, we keep professional matters casual: jeans, stubble (whether male or female), and low expectations. We know our lives will never be secure or paid for. Why dress up for that?

Send any questions you have about writing, life, and love to Esmeralda so she can crush your dreams. You can reach her at