Why More People Need a No-Nonsense Approach to Writing

You’re so more than just writers who hope to make it in this world.

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There are two things I, as an editor, writer and hopefully a mentor in some abstract form of the term, cannot tolerate: laziness, and a bad wifi connection.

I don’t currently pay for my own internet, so I really can’t complain about the latter. But I have plenty – PLENTY – to say about laziness.

This blog has grown a lot in the past eleven months – more so than I expected, and I’m very grateful for that. However, I’m very confident in saying – and completely OK with this – it will never be the kind of blog that gets thousands of hits a day. I don’t mind. Because the reason it isn’t as appealing to writers as other blogs about creativity is that I don’t give out the same kind of advice other bloggers do. I don’t like fluff. I hate it when I’m looking up how to do something, and the only advice I find is, “Believe in yourself. Have a good attitude. Chase your dreams.”

There’s nothing wrong with that kind of encouragement. I just think it sends a kind of message I can’t commit to investing in – that if you just change your mindset, you’ll be able to accomplish anything and everything you want.

This isn’t the case with writing. I don’t care what other bloggers are saying. If you want to be a writer, you have to DO something about it. I know people don’t like hearing that. They’d rather skim the feel-good essays. I’m so tired of those. It’s one thing to write about frustrations and roadblocks and things writers have difficulty overcoming, as I often do because I deal with these things, too. It’s another to approach those things with the message that “everything’s going to be OK. Just hang in there.”

OK, great. But what is the reader supposed to DO about it?

I like to make jokes. I don’t like taking things too seriously all the time (life’s too short for that). But when it comes to the writing process, writing productivity and getting stuff done, I don’t fool around. Which is exactly why I transitioned this blog into something much more … professional? … than various attempts at humorous ramblings from a stressed-out aspiring novelist.

I prefer to get to the point. So you want to start writing a book? I don’t have much more advice for you than to start writing a book. I’m tired of everyone always asking and answering the same questions over and over again. I want to prompt much deeper, more productive discussions about writing. I believe, in order to fall in love with writing, you first have to DO IT – a lot. Over many months, without quitting.

There are too many people out there who use the term “aspiring writer” to feel as if they belong in a community of writers without actually ever writing anything. To those of you who are actually aspiring writers – who are trying to make things happen, who are putting in the effort, who really care about setting goals and achieving their ambitions – thank you. You are motivating so many people to get their butts in their chairs and write stuff without even realizing it half the time. You are owning the movement. I like you. I like you a lot.

But I’m not sure I can comfortably use that term anymore. I worry that “aspiring writer” implies that a person has a dream of becoming a writer but has yet to act on it. To aspire means to dream; to hope; to long for. I’m having a hard time coming up with a better title for you all. You’re dreamers, you’re opportunity-seekers, you’re word wizards with plans and schedules and processes. But you’re so much more than just writers who hope to make it in this world. You’re something else. You’re … you’re writers. You WRITE. You GET IT DONE. It’s not always pretty, it’s not always fun. But it IS.

To people out there who really want to write, but haven’t started yet – I promise, I’m really glad you’re here. You do belong here, and you are always welcome to seek out advice and ask questions. All I ask is that you do so with the intention of navigating away from here (but not too quickly!), opening up your writing program of choice and writing something down. I really, really want you to try. I can give you all the advice in the world, but I cannot make you apply it. I cannot make you DO.

I’m not here to tell people they’re wrong or they’re not good enough. I do think there are people out there, though, who need to be told the only way to do something you want to do is to DO IT. I’m doing my very best to bring that kind of viewpoint and advice to this site. I’m not perfect. I don’t always write the best articles or give the most detailed arguments. But I’m trying. I just can’t help people who aren’t willing to try.

I don’t want to save the world. I don’t want to make things harder for people who are struggling. But not trying, whatever your excuse, is a form of laziness. I can’t “fix” that. Only you can. THAT is what I’m here to do. To help you take steps toward reaching your goals. Putting ideas into words – that’s an action. You have to work. Only then will you get to where you really want to be.

If anyone has any suggestions for renaming all the aspiring writers out there who are beyond the point of aspiring – who are actually DOING – share. A title is just a name, but it says a lot about who you are. I want you to define yourselves with purpose. With actions you are already taking. That’s who you are. You deserve a collective term that reflects that. Maybe that sounds weird, but hey, I said I like to give no-nonsense advice. I never said anything about having a normal-person brain.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

6 thoughts on “Why More People Need a No-Nonsense Approach to Writing

  1. Excellent post! There’s a difference between dreaming aspiring authors and working aspiring authors. Working aspiring authors usually have a consistent writing schedule and pound away at their manuscripts whether they feel like they’re “in the zone” or not. You’re right, there should be a special word for them.

  2. I think passive vs active is a good comparison.

    Passive writers want to already be finished with their writing. They may even may even start writing, but then let it wallow when they get stuck. Instead of perpetually seeking improvement, they give up when it gets hard. They want the dream to happen to them, instead of making it reality.

    Active writers want all the same things passive writers do. The difference active writers are always working to improve their work. Be it studying other authors, editing, binge writing, spending hours deliberating their plot, scenes, characters, or even single phrases.

    Think bees buzzing from flower to flower.

    In all their spare time, active writers are constantly doing the necessary work. They are persistent.

    And eventually the process of commitment becomes enjoyable.

  3. Thank you for this. I joined a writing group a while back, just amateur writers like me of varying skill, but I believe we were all there with the same thought in mind – to become better writers. The premise was that people could suggest topics and one of us would write about it in a public post and get a discussion going. When it was my time to write I made the mistake of A. Claiming there was no such thing as a “muse” that you had to try your best to write consistently, even if what you wrote was bad. And B. writing wasn’t something that came to us via divine inspiration, it was a craft and we had to practice to get better. Predictably I got ripped to shredded in the comment section.

    So thank you for this, it’s nice to see there are places when you can have this type of discussion without creating a massive amount of drama.

    1. This is a drama-free zone! :) I can understand people’s need to rely on a “muse” but yeah I don’t really advocate for that either. But as long as it gets people writing, it’s not such a terrible thing. It’s when people blame their “muse” for not getting anything done that irks me.

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