12 Writing Principles I Lived By in 2019

I accomplished a lot in 2019. These are the principles that got me there.

1. Try a bunch of different things and re-familiarize yourself with what you like (and what you don’t). I’ve written about a variety of subjects this year, and while I’m ready to leave some of them behind, I feel even more connected to the topics that interest me most.

2. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it almost never will be perfect. For a long time, even when I was still working on finishing the first draft of the only book I fully finished this year, I hated it because of how flawed it was. But that is literally the point of a first draft — to tell a story that isn’t perfect (yet). You have to tell it in full before you can go back and figure out how to make it better.

3. If you are proud of it, then it was worth your energy and time. Sometimes we worry so much about whether or not other people react to our work in the way we want them to that we take their opinions as true measures of our work’s worth. In reality, if you write something and you’re glad you did, then it wasn’t a waste of time at all.

4. Always work on at least one project that brings you pure joy. Not all writing assignments and projects are going to be as glamorous as they may have once appeared. But you can write your way through them as long as you are also working on something else that just makes you happy.

5. Write what makes you uncomfortable. Your creative comfort zone will always be a place you can return to when you need relief from the stress and chaos of the world around you. But if you never dare to venture outside this cozy place, you will never grow as a writer, and your writing goals will become that much harder to achieve.

6. Know your limits. There are going to be days you can’t write as much as you want to write. There are going to be projects you start and realize you aren’t ready to take on after all. It’s OK to change your mind, and it’s OK to say “not today, but soon.” Don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of being able to say you got it done.

7. It’s OK to be afraid. Courage, after all, is the act of doing something despite the fact that you are terrified of it. I wrote some stories this year that really scared me, and I’m still hesitant to share them, but at the same time, I am so glad to know that despite my fear, I can still write what is on my heart. You can, and should, do the same.

8. Pain is part of healing, and sometimes writing is painful. If you are someone who heals through writing about your experiences, then don’t hesitate to do so. As a writer, you have to do whatever helps you heal so that you can continue on with your craft even in the darkest of times.

9. If there is a chance, always take it. If you have nothing to lose by pitching a story to an editor or applying for a freelancing position with a publication you already read regularly, why not take a leap and see what happens? You never know what reaching out might lead to.

10. Share less, write more. There is nothing wrong with talking about your ideas and promoting your work. But sometimes it’s healthy to focus more on what you are doing in the privacy of your own writing nook. You need at least some time to write what’s on your heart without fear of judgment, even if it is only temporary.

11. Just write anyway. Even when you don’t think you will ever be good enough. Even when everything feels like it’s falling apart. Even when it feels like you don’t have the support system you once thought you could always rely on. Write no matter what, because you never know how much it might save you.

12. Be bold. People will try to tear you down for having opinions and believing in things they do not, but they can’t control who you are and they should not define what you stand for. As a writer, it is up to you to put into words what needs to be heard. Do your duty. Write the truth, and don’t be shy.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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2 thoughts on “12 Writing Principles I Lived By in 2019

  1. An excellent list, Meg! I especially like #2 and #4. Thank you for sharing. You were one of the first blogs I began reading and your content still resonates with me. I look forward to joining you on this journey in 2020:) Erica

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