Don’t Get Hacky – Keep Your Standards High!

Don’t Get Hacky – Keep Your Standards High 

What does writing your college application essay and writing an episode of Full House have in common?

Full House Cast

Well, frankly, not that much, unless you count the caffeine intake. Having spent a good deal of time in television “writers room,” however, I’ll share with you a writers’ expression you might find helpful: Hacky.

The Television Writer’s Dictionary

Hacky. As in, “of or related to being a hack.” And, in case you don’t know, a hack is a writer who says, “good enough” when his or her work can improve. A hack is someone who quits, in one way or another, before that finish line of excellence is reached.

Hacky writing, therefore, is work that reveals a lack of effort or a desire to simply get it done.

Writing for Television

HacksAs writers sit around the table in a television studio, tossing lines and trying to complete a script, they often call each other on being hacky. For example, Writer A on NCIS might pitch the line, “Taking on this case is like grabbing a tiger by the tail.” Writer B might respond, “Too hacky, man. Let’s keep working.” Writer C might state, “We need to get this finished by midnight,” while Writer D might chime in, “We know that, Byron, but let’s not hack out.”

Okay, so now that you know what hacky means…

How does this relate to writing your college application essay?

Simple: Do not hack out!

Completing your college application essays is a daunting proposition, one that makes writing funny lines for six year old Michelle seem easy by comparison. Along the way you may be tempted to tell yourself that your essay is good enough, doing another draft isn’t going to make a difference, or if you have to read your essay one more time you are going to scream louder than the audience at Blair Witch.