The Hardest Lessons a Writer Will Ever Learn | The Blank Page

Writing is a constant cycle of learning, applying what you’ve learned, and learning even more.

The Blank Page is a new weekly series on Novelty Revisions dedicated to any writer who is just beginning their journey or starting again after a long pause. Check back every Monday for more tips and inspiration.


Writing is a constant cycle of learning, applying what you’ve learned, and learning even more. Even those who have mastered their craft still learn new things every single day.

Not all these lessons are easy to accept. But they will change your life as a writer all the same.

The exact outcome you dream of may never become your reality. But that doesn’t mean amazing things will never happen to you. It often happens that the achievements we end up celebrating are better than the ones we grew up imagining.

But it still hurts to want something and miss the mark — of course it does. You’re human and you want a very specific thing to happen. It’s normal to feel disappointed when things don’t go your way or it starts to feel like nothing ever will.

Don’t close yourself off to growth opportunities because they’re not exactly in line with what you’ve convinced yourself you really want. You never know what forming a relationship with a client or doing one side gig at random can eventually lead to. Be open. Be willing to see where life takes you. even if it seems you’re veering off the course.

Some stories you love may never reach the masses. Which doesn’t mean they’re bad stories or that you never should have written them. We simply often dream of creating bestselling books that gain widespread notoriety when this is a lot less common than you might think.

There is value in pouring your entire heart and soul into a work of art even if no one ever sees it. Why? Because we learn something from everything we create, even if we don’t realize exactly what that lesson is at the time. Only two people might read your blog post about sloths, but writing that blog post about sloths might inspire you to write an entire sloth encyclopedia, and a thousand people might read that (you never know).

Sometimes, the stories we think will take off won’t, and the ones we’re convinced won’t get noticed do. Don’t shelf your “meh” stories because you’re unsure. Don’t put all your energy into the ones you “know” are going to change your life. Take a chance on anything and everything. There is only so much you can control.

You will never be the best writer in the history of writers. There will always be someone better than you. Always someone more successful than you; more influential, more widely known. Always someone richer, someone more prolific and knowledgeable. No matter how hard you work, no matter how many words you write over a number of years, you will never be able to reach the top of the top.

That does not mean you can’t improve as a writer little by little each day. It does not mean you won’t earn great success, that you won’t change the lives of readers or leave your mark on the world.

But the only writer you should be competing against, in the long run, is yourself. If you consistently seek to one-up the single writer you have complete control over (you), you likely won’t be disappointed in the outcome.

Just starting out as a writer or returning from an extended hiatus? Let me know how I can help. Just drop a comment below with your questions/concerns — I am here to serve.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.


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