Why You’ll Never Write Everything You Want to Write

It’s not because you’re a bad writer.


There are authors — many of them still living — who have published hundreds of books throughout their professional lives. This, of course, doesn’t even take into account the dozens of things they have likely written or attempted to write that never made it to even the initial stages of publishing.

I bet that even after they publish their last book, they will still have — at the very least — a handful of ideas they never had the chance to turn into stories.

This is probably a much more common “problem” than you think. But if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by all the stories in your head, trying to get them out, trying to do a good job of it, you know the struggle.

Your brain is just too full of fragments of ideas. And you can’t spend your whole life sitting behind a desk telling stories. You can’t spend all your time writing. Not if you’re going to do it well.

What most writers struggle with isn’t writing a good book or telling a decent story. It’s balancing their urges to create with everything else that comes with being a person living in the real world.

You will never write everything you want to write because there are just too many possible narratives for a single person to transform into tales in a single lifetime. And you can’t write if you don’t live, and you can’t live if you just sit and wait for things to happen to you so you can write about them.

But you can still put forth the effort and write more things than you ever thought you were capable of. Some how, some way.

I can’t assess your individual writing roadblocks in a blog post. I don’t know what you’re struggling with creatively or any of the things that are going on outside your creative bubble that may be preventing you from writing the stories your mind and body are craving.

But I do know there are multiple possible solutions to every creative roadblock. I also know that if you really put in the time and energy to overcome the barriers holding you back and make writing as much of a priority as your life allows in the moment, you might just end up coming close to writing it all, even if you never actually do.

Eliminate your distractions. Compromise with your loved ones. Sacrifice small segments of your free time (but not all of it). Pay attention to your mental, physical, and emotional health. Love the people around you and yourself. Don’t shut out the benefits of real-world experience. When you fall down, get back up. If you can’t, ask for help.

While none of these things will automatically make you write more or better, they will help create the pocket of space that needs to exist in your life so that you can create freely without worry, without interruption, without fear. It might be a space in the middle of chaos that only lasts five minutes. It might be a clearing off the main hiking trail that lasts an entire afternoon.

Then and there, at least, you can write some things, and work toward some goals, and feel like you’re finally Doing the Writing Thing even if it’s not a lot or that great or very fun.

You may never become a bestselling author. You may never run a successful blog or become a something-you’re-good-at coach or publish a memoir. You may have this big dream that hovers above all the rest of your much smaller, much dimmer ambitions that’s just too big and you work toward it your whole life and it never quite happens.

But don’t you at least want to be able to say you tried?

All that really matters, in the end, is that you wrote things that helped you fulfill a purpose. Maybe your words helped you overcome something that happened in your past. Maybe they helped you earn enough money to quit your job and do the charity work that fills your heart. Maybe they helped someone else take charge of their life and go on to do amazing things — even if they never come back around to thank you for your prose.

As long as you write the things that matter to you, those things will go on mattering long after you’re gone.

Follow your heart, and your creative spirit, and dare to dream. Dream big, don’t hold back. Work hard. But also live. Let writing supplement the wonderful things in your life. Have no regrets. Try. And succeed in all the big and small ways you can manage. Always remember it’s worth every moment.

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

The Only One Holding You Back Is You

Writing is your responsibility.

The last half of 2018 was one of the most difficult periods of time I’ve ever endured as a creator.

I woke up and went to sleep angry and frustrated almost every day. I knew I was not in a creator-friendly environment. I was still learning how to be a parent (to a puppy). I was mentally and emotionally drained almost constantly. Making room for writing became more of a chore than a pleasure.

And over and over — I have the journal entries to prove it — I blamed my failures and took my frustration out on everyone else. Everyone except myself.

For some reason we get into this habit of blaming our problems on other people. And many never learn to take responsibility for their failures, shortcomings, and struggles.

“I would have written a book by now if my wife were more supportive.”

“I want to start a blog, but I can’t make time because I’m not in control of my own schedule.”

“I want to take time off for a writing conference, but my boss won’t let me.”

These are just examples of course, and maybe you’ve already thought of some better ones that reflect your personal circumstances more accurately.

But still, let me ask you this: Why are you treating your excuses like reasons, and why are you personifying your excuses by pairing them with the faces and names of people you know?

It is not your wife’s fault, your family’s fault, your boss’s fault, your dog’s fault, your best friend’s cousin’s nephew’s aunt’s co-worker’s fault you haven’t touched your writing goals yet.

It is yours.

Now, I’m not saying you’re a terrible person or a bad writer for having a bad attitude. A lot of people grow up in environments where excuses are plentiful and blame is the norm. They don’t always know anything different, or that they have to learn to think differently before they can make progress on even their smallest ambitions.

Just because it’s your fault doesn’t mean you can’t fix it. But only you can do that. The people around you probably aren’t going to change — especially not if you don’t change first. You have to make writing happen in the circumstances you’re in right now. You can’t wait around for things to “get better.” They won’t. Only you can.

I know that not everyone has the luxury (I hesitate using that word, but I suppose it fits here) of doing what they want to do when they want to do it. I learned that lesson the hard way last year. But I’m slowly learning to overcome that obstacle anyway.

Sometimes that means there’s less time for fun after a long day. I don’t get to watch as much TV. I’m already behind on my reading schedule for the year. I haven’t sat down with a cup of coffee and a book and stayed there for hours in so long I can’t remember when it last happened.

But I’m pursuing my goals and I’m writing more every day than I ever have before, because I stopped blaming other people and decided to take responsibility for my own actions.

Why didn’t I write that article last night? Because I chose to read a book and snuggle with my puppy instead of sitting at my desk with her under my feet. It was not her fault, she did not “prevent” me from doing what I needed to do. I actively chose not to do it. My fault.

But there’s another step to this. I can’t just blame myself for not writing the article and then sulk and get angry because I didn’t do the work. I also need to decide when I’m going to do the work instead, make a plan, and actually follow through. I can make better choices today. And if I don’t, that’s still on me.

If you’re not quite where you want to be in your life as a writer, guess whose fault it is? Completely yours. But you also have the power to turn things around, even if it doesn’t always feel like you do. So much of writing, as a process, is about attitude. There might be things going on in your life that are making it harder to write. But you can still make it work if you strive to do it anyway — and follow through.

What are you going to do today to claim full responsibility over your writing goals, roadblocks, and shortcomings? How are you going to do a little bit better today than you did yesterday? How are you going to make writing happen, no matter what?

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

12 Things No One Told You About Being a Writer

These are things you learn only by living as a writer.

1. It’s about more than just telling stories.

2. You will always be balancing your writing with at least a dozen other things — people, jobs, your health, etc.

3. Most people never become “famous” writers even if they do become successful.

4. It kind of feels like everyone’s doing it but that may not actually be true.

5. Talking about writing something and actually writing something are two very different things.

6. A lot of people have written things like yours, but not exactly like your things.

7. There are no “original” ideas, just different angles.

8. Asking for money/more money is terrifying but you have to get used to it.

9. It’s OK to have a day job, or a night job, or a bunch of jobs that aren’t writing so you can support your writing.

10. The struggle is real and you have a right to admit you’re struggling.

11. Success happens after years of consistent hard work. Most people will never see that, but you’ll remember it.

12. If it’s really the life you want, you will find a way to make it work. Always.

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

Can’t Write Consistently? Here’s How to Fix That

The solution might not be what you’re expecting, but it works.

It’s probably happened to you a dozen times by now. You set a new writing goal, one you finally feel like you can achieve. (Let’s say 250 words per day for six months). For the first week, you crush that goal every single day. A few days, you even get close to doubling it.

But then you miss a day. Just one — no big deal, right?

Then you miss another. And another.

And before you know it, six months have passed and you have no idea how you managed to not write anything at all for so many days in a row.

This is the reality for way too many aspiring writers. And the solution is so much simpler than you might think.

Consistent writing is the first action step I recommend to people who start writing a lot of things but never end up finishing them. It’s like telling a new violin player to practice for 20 minutes every single day. It’s not about getting better faster. It’s about training yourself to do the work until it becomes a habit — something you don’t have to dread or even think about on good days.

Why is writing consistently important?

This doesn’t mean you have to write every day. That’s a good way to burn yourself out before you even make good headway on your writing goals.

No. It just means that you make an effort to not only create a plan for how you’re going to reach your writing goal, but also that you actually do the necessary work.

But how do you follow the schedule or pattern you’ve created for yourself? Here’s what’s worked for me.

The key to consistent writing is to find the odd thing that motivates you to get the words down — whether they’re your best words or not.

For me, it’s setting a numeric goal and calculating how close I am to reaching it by percentages. I’m a completionist. If I can look at a spreadsheet and see I’m 95% of the way to meeting a goal, I will pretty much do anything within my power to get to 100%.

That means if I have 1,000 words left to write and it’s 9 p.m. and I’m exhausted, I’m still likely to get as close to finishing those words than I would have been without seeing that 95% completion rate.

This is what works for me personally. It keeps me writing consistently, which I currently need to do in order to meet some big writing goals I’ve set for myself this year.

This specific method might not work for everyone. And that’s OK.

But I do think setting a small, consistent goal in the beginning is the best way to train yourself to make it happen almost automatically.

Let’s say, to start out, you set a goal to write 250 words after work every weekday, and 500 words over each weekend. You hang a wall calendar right next to your desk or put it somewhere you can see it while you’re writing. And every day you meet your goal, you get to put a sticker on that day. Draw a picture. Whatever makes you happy.

Or maybe you’re more of a long-term reward seeker. You set a big goal — write 80,000 words by September — and set smaller goals (monthly, weekly, or daily) to get you to that endpoint. And if you reach that endpoint on time, you get something cool. A new gadget, a trip to a new place. A party. Whatever gets you excited enough to motivate you to sit down and write on certain days of the week.

The point is that it doesn’t matter what your reward system is, it doesn’t matter how big or small your goal is, and it doesn’t matter when or how much you write. What matters is that you nail down something that’s going to get you writing consistently until it just becomes a part of your normal routine.

With all the distractions and other roadblocks writers face, we’re bound to come up with some pretty weird stuff to keep us on task. I’ve heard of writing and productivity apps that force you to plant virtual trees or adopt fake pets, and the only way to keep them alive is to keep doing your work.

These things really work for some people. But you’ll never know what works for you if you don’t give a few things a try.

So take some time to think about what really motivates you to complete tasks. is it getting to 100%? Seeing a full month of stickers? Planting a virtual forest? It all starts with deciding on a goal. Then you have to break it into pieces, create an action plan, and sit down and do the actions required.

You’re not always going to get to 100%. Everyone has bad days. Everyone gives up temporarily, at the very least. It isn’t the record holders or the ones with perfect attendance that achieve success. It’s the ones who always keep their eyes on the prize and keep getting up every time they fall down.

If you really want this — if you really want to Make Writing Happen — you will find a way. Even that task takes effort. But it’s worth it. It’s ALWAYS worth it.

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

The Dark (and Not So Dark) Parts of Writing No One Ever Sees

What goes on before a project comes to life?

Every aspiring and working writer alike imagines the day they will be able to hold a copy of their very own book in their hands. We can picture it so clearly, as if when we close our eyes and open them again, that book will be there staring back at us.

But of course, that’s not how it works. Writing is not magic. You don’t just decide to write something one day and have a near perfect copy of a finished product in your hand the next.

That’s how a lot of people wish it could work. After all, anyone can technically write and publish anything they want to. Many of them jump into a writing project thinking it will be easy, only to realize four pages in that OH. This is like, hard. It takes, like, effort. It’s, like, actual work.

And some of them accept that reality and keep on going, week after week, month after month, until they’ve finished a first draft of something they’re almost proud of.

Others never quite get to the point where they’re willing to work on overcoming the various obstacles associated with physically turning blank pages into pieces of a book. They either don’t know how to do the work or decide it isn’t worth it, and give up.

There’s a lot about the writing process most people don’t see.

They don’t see you sitting on the couch with your laptop at 9 p.m., dog curled up next to you, coffee getting cold on the table, trying to block out all the noise around you, desperately trying to get those last 500 words in.

They don’t see you so lost in those words that an hour passes without your noticing.

They don’t see the tears you shed on behalf of an imaginary person’s pain, the excitement you feel when a fake conversation pours out of your soul and makes you laugh and brings you hope because five minutes ago you felt like every word you wrote was trash and wanted to stop.

No one sees any of these things. Maybe it’s because we don’t want people to see them. Maybe it’s because they’re not interested in seeing them, and only want the shiny, polished stories of how one writer sat down to write a book and one page later they were a bestselling author.

Do people not want to know about the struggle because they don’t want to struggle? Or do we just neglect our responsibility as writers to be open and honest about every step of the writing process, not just the good parts but the bad ones too?

Maybe it’s both. Maybe some people don’t want to hear about the bad parts, so we stop talking about them without realizing we’ve stopped.

So many aspiring writers wish they could just skip over or speed through those late nights and unpredictable emotions and the various forms of temptation to quit.

The other problem is that even when we do talk about these things, a lot of us aren’t able to acknowledge either why we’re struggling or how we plan to overcome it. “I was tired so I didn’t write.” I know I’ve written that in blog posts before. But that’s not helpful, to you or to anyone else. “I had a bad day so I gave up on writing.” That’s it?

I have nothing against sharing your struggles as a writer online … OBVIOUSLY. But I think it’s important to offer hope when you do — advice if you have it. Because you don’t want to discourage someone from writing by admitting it’s hard. You want to admit it’s hard, and then also say, “Hey, but plenty of people have done it and so can you!”

That’s why this blog exists. I don’t think we talk about this stuff enough. I want more people to see the human side of writing. There are enough blogs and books out there already about how to write a good story, how to make money as a writer, how to sell a book, how to get published. And that’s all important information.

But I’m more interested in the process. Hence the tagline: “Putting ideas into words.” I want people to know this is not an easy road. But they also need help figuring out how to navigate it.

I hope I’m at least doing my part in this, filling some kind of need people might not even realize they have. It brings me joy. That’s important too, right?

Talk about the hard stuff. It matters.

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

Can Writers Actually Plan Ahead, or is it a Waste of Time Trying?

Planners, listen up.

I am a planner. I rarely accomplish anything if I don’t have a to-do list. I like to know where I’m going before I get there. I plan trips months in advance. I’ve had a list of things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30 since I was 24.

I am a planner … at least, in every area of my life except for writing.

As a writer, I plan almost nothing in advance. And that’s the way I personally like it.

However, just because I do something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way for everyone. Some people are hyper-organized planners only in their creative endeavors. And many wonder if planning anything out before you sit down to write is even worth it.

Here’s what I have come to believe about balancing organization and spontaneity as a creator.

To me, writing is the most fun when I don’t know everything that’s coming my way. In this realm, at least, I love being surprised. I love when my characters seemingly make their own choices, when I stumble upon information I didn’t expect to find, when things start going in a different direction than I ever would have been able to plan for.

Meg Cabot (author, and my original inspiration for writing all the things) has said that when she sits down to write a novel, she prefers knowing how it begins, a little bit about its middle, and a small fragment of its end. She never wants to know everything going in. And I loved that approach the second I heard it, and still prefer it today.

While I do think you need to have some idea of where you’re headed, I don’t think you should spend all your time planning everything out to the last detail. Because you could end up:

  • Spending all your time/energy on outlines and details and never actually writing
  • Getting bored with planning and mistaking that to mean you don’t want to write the story
  • Getting stuck when a detail you planned isn’t working or your story wants to go a different direction.

I honestly think a lot of writers unintentionally end up trapping themselves in their own outlines and never end up finishing what they start because they feel like they can’t stray from the original path they created.

But the reality is, you forged the path, and you can choose not to follow it. But it’s much easier when you know the general way you want to go but don’t have a set path for getting there. Yet.

So don’t approach writing thinking you can’t plan anything. Or that you’re a “bad” writer if you never plan anything at all. A little spontaneity is good for creativity. But every individual is different, and some people need to have at least a loose outline of what they want to accomplish or they’ll never end up doing anything.

The takeaway here is that yes, you can plan ahead if it makes you feel more secure or motivates you to write. But it’s not worth it if you spend all your time planning and none actually writing. If you notice that you do a lot of outlining, for example, but have never actually finished even a small writing project, maybe you should try planning less and writing more. At this point, you have nothing to lose.

Planners, pantsers, in-betweeners — we’re all just here to do the writing thing. However you do it really doesn’t matter in the end, as long as it actually gets done. Writing is more important than planning, but if planning is what gets you writing, keep on drafting those outlines. You got this.

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

My 10 Best Tips for Sticking With a Writing Project for 10 Straight Years

Here’s some writing advice. Enjoy!

I’m still celebrating my 10-year blogging anniversary because honestly, I’m super proud to have stuck with something this long. So I’ve decided to pull together a list of what I hope are the best pieces of writing advice I’ve given over the past decade. I hope these nuggets can serve as reminders and much-needed encouragement for you today.

1. Stop worrying about whether or not your ideas are dumb.

There are great ideas and terrible ideas. But you can’t distinguish which idea falls under which category until you give it a chance and see what happens. “This is probably a dumb idea” is a phrase you should only use to describe your own writing when you’ve already started writing or working on a thing. If it does turn out to be a dumb idea and it fizzles out, fine. But you never know: It might actually be the best idea you’ve ever had.

2. Get really good at writing things when you know it’s not your best writing.

A lot of aspiring writers get hung up on this idea that they can’t write or keep anything that’s not their “best” writing. They can’t write when they’re slightly tired because it won’t be great. They can’t write on the train on their morning or evening commute because they won’t be able to concentrate deeply enough. My philosophy has always been to write and accept the results as they are, whether it’s your best writing or your worst. Sometimes, all you need to worry about right now is getting the words down on paper. There is always time to go back and rewrite later.

3. Don’t take things personally.

People will disagree with you. They will try to tear you down for no reason. They will tell you and others that your blog is awful, your book is terrible, your stories are trash and you shouldn’t be a writer. They’ll do anything to try to make themselves feel better by being Garbage Humans. Don’t waste your energy on their venom. And don’t you dare let them convince you to stop writing. They have zero power over you or your choices.

4. Don’t spend all your time planning.

While there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead or figuring out a long-term strategy to make something work, many people fall into the trap of “planning without executing.” They spend all their energy and time on making plans and end up having nothing left by the time they actually sit down to write something. Do a little bit of planning along the way, but above all else, make sure you’re actually writing. That’s how you get results.

5. The Honeymoon Phase will wear off sooner than you think.

The moment a new idea hits, we’re instantly filled with motivation and excitement. But it’s very easy to waste that excitement talking about and planning out an idea. You have to capitalize on that hot-burning fire while it’s scalding and get some actual writing done. Because before you know it, that initial excitement is going to wear off. And if you haven’t started writing by then, it’s going to be a lot harder to keep going.

6. Break big ambitions into small goals.

So you want to write a book, huh? I’m just using this as an example, there are plenty of other big ambitions to have as a writer. But you can’t just sit down today and write an entire book by tomorrow, right? It could take months, even years. And you’re much more likely to give up before even getting halfway through if “write a book” is the only goal you set. How about starting with 50,000 words broken up into 500 words a day? A chapter? A page? Start small and work your way up to something bigger.

7. Get discouraged, but get up.

I’ve come to believe it’s healthy to go through periods where you feel down and unsure of where you’re headed as a writer. These are the moments you really have to draw from your raw passion and love for your craft to keep you going. It never hurts to question where you’re going, as long as you keep doing little things here and there to get there one step at a time. Go ahead — let yourself feel like you can’t do it. Then get up and go do it anyway.

8. The only way to get better at writing is to keep writing.

I’ve heard a lot of people complain that they don’t feel they’re good at writing, so they never really get around to writing anything. That’s not really how writing works. It’s a skill no one is born having mastered. In order to get better at it, you actually have to sit down and do it. When people ask me how to improve their writing, they don’t always like my simple answer: Write. But on the surface, it really is that simple. I’ve taken some writing classes and have a minor in creative writing, but most of my “education” as a writer has come from spending so much time at my computer writing. I put in the work, and I get the results. You can, too.

9. And the only way to fail is to stop.

I’m very cautious about the world “failure.” I think a lot of people use it to tear themselves down when they’re struggling to complete a task or make a positive change in their life. “I didn’t write today, so I failed.” No, not really — you just didn’t write today, and tomorrow hasn’t started yet. The only way to truly fail is to never try at all, or to just stop doing something because it’s hard or time-consuming or you don’t feel like doing it. Trying something and not succeeding isn’t failure in the sense that you didn’t do your best. It just means you missed the mark somehow and you can probably try again.

10. Rejection, criticism, and bad days happen. Keep writing anyway.

I could develop an entire course or write a whole book on how to handle negative or unwanted writing feedback. Because the truth is, many of us don’t know how to deal with being told no or hearing someone say our writing isn’t good. Not everyone grows up being taught that they can’t always have what they want when they want it. So a lot of people have to train their brains to take “no” in a more positive light, instead of crumbling into a pile of misery every time they get a rejection e-mail. In short, the best way to combat “no” is to keep writing until you get a “yes.”

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

Just Start the Thing — Even If You’re Not Sure You’ll Keep Doing It

You have nothing to lose.

10 years ago to the day (as I’m writing this), I did more than decide I wanted to start a blog. I registered for my very own free account on WordPress.com, took a deep breath, and wrote my first-ever blog post.

To be honest, I didn’t take it too seriously. I mean, technically, my very first sentence publicly visible to the world was “Hello, people of Earth!” Ah, 2009. How I miss thee.

I thought that blogging was going to end up being this thing that I started just to see if it caught any traction. I was 16, had just gotten an essay published in a magazine for the first time, and was convinced I could write and publish a book before I turned 18.

And to do that, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a blog like Meg Cabot’s blog. She was my favorite author, and we had the same name, so. Why not?

Many times when you’re that young you don’t tend to stick with things for very long. You end up trying a bunch of different things and abandoning most of them for things you like more or are better at or that will get you college scholarships or whatever. But also when you’re new to something. You’ve never tried it before. You want to see what it’s like. If it’s worth the effort. If you’ll fall in love with it.

I never thought I would fall in love with blogging. I am shy. I don’t like sharing personal things about me with even people I know. And somehow I knew that blogging about writing would mean I’d have to be open and honest and admit when I failed and let people know when I’d succeeded.

Mostly, I figured no one would read it and I’d have no social accountability and I’d just give it up after a while.

For a while, no one really read it at all. The content wasn’t great, it wasn’t consistent, and for the first few years, I mostly just complained about school. (And for a short stretch of time I became very obsessed with saving the environment/planet? That was weird. Not that I don’t still care about the planet. I do.)

But the most unexpected thing that happened after following through on my decision to start a blog was that I figured out I REALLY LIKED TO BLOG.

Even when no one read what I had to say, I felt better just having released it into the world. And I started to learn a lot about writing and publishing and being professional online just by keeping up with my blog.

So after taking a chance on something I’d never done before — just to see what might happen — I decided to keep doing it. I still figured I’d give up eventually, like when college got too busy or something. But oops, I never quit. In fact, my blog survived the end of high school and college and grad school and now it’s a decade later and it’s a bigger part of my life than I ever imagined it would be.

From what I can remember (it was a long time ago, after all), I didn’t hesitate when the thought of starting a blog popped into my head. I didn’t sit on it for months wondering if I should do it. I didn’t spend weeks trying to come up with the perfect name — I just picked one (Writer’s Blog — agh) and would end up changing it about four times before it became Novelty Revisions.

Basically, I had the idea to try starting my own blog. I obtained the right tools (a WordPress domain) and went ahead and published my first post right then and there. I didn’t worry about whether or not I’d be bad at it (I was). I didn’t worry about what other people might think about it (my friends and family thought it was cool even though they never actually read it).

I didn’t even listen to any of the excuses that might have distracted me or prevented me from doing what I wanted to do. I just decided it was going to happen, clicked a few buttons, and made it happen.

The thing about creating is, you don’t know what something is going to be like until you dive in and start doing it. You don’t know the time commitments, the energy requirements. You don’t even know if you’re going to like it or what skills you’re going to need to work on improving the most until you’re in there figuring it all out.

So my advice to you, if you’re thinking about starting something but aren’t sure if you’ll be able to make it work, is to just sit down and give it a shot. You have absolutely nothing to lose. And you never know if, 10 years later, that will have ended up being the best decision you ever could have made.

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

12 Things Non-Writers Still Think Are True About Writers

Just … no.

1. We’re perfect at spelling and grammar.

2. We don’t have “real” jobs.

3. We’re lazy.

4. We prefer not to be social and would rather sit alone writing.

5. They can’t talk to us about anything except writing.

6. We only want to talk about our work.

7. We never have to worry about money.

8. We all write/want to write books.

9. We’re difficult to work with.

10. We have time to read/critique/edit their manuscripts [for free].

11. If they don’t have an idea for a story, we can give them one of ours.

12. Our work is “easy.”

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

Just Admit You Failed — Then Start Over

It’s time to accept it.

As a collective population, we are terrified of failing.

So much so that we often avoid doing things we might not succeed at because there’s a chance we’ll fall flat on our faces and embarrass ourselves to death, or something.

But some of us do manage to try things we hope we won’t fail at … and keep trying … and keep trying … even though what we’re trying isn’t working and we just keep doing the same exact things over and over praying that this time they will finally work.

This is, in case you hadn’t already guessed, a major waste of time.

You’d be much better off admitting that what you’re doing tanked and you need to stop doing that thing before you hurt yourself.

Let’s say you’re trying to write a book. You keep setting a goal of 1,000 words a day knowing you could make it happen. But every day, you wait until 9 pm to start writing, and every day, you decide you’ll just go to bed/watch Netflix and do it tomorrow instead.

Until you realize you’ve barely written any of your story, you’ve lost interest, and you’ve been saying “I’ll do it tomorrow” for at least 100 days in a row.

Just admit you failed already.

Admit that you didn’t do all you could have done.

Admit you were responsible for Making Things Happen, and didn’t take that responsibility seriously enough.

Admit you messed up, and those mistakes could have been avoided.

But it’s not ever just because you were honest and accepted defeat.

The next step, once you’ve admitted you failed, is to pick yourself back up and try again.

This does not mean you jump right back in and keep doing the exact same things you were doing before. If it didn’t work the first time, it’s probably not going to work the second time. If you couldn’t write a book because you spent too much time watching Netflix, you can’t start your second book while also planning out how many shows you’re going to watch on Netflix.

If you tried to write a book and couldn’t do it, maybe you’d be better off starting with essays, blog posts, or short stories instead.

If you tried to start a blog and couldn’t make it work, maybe you need to first train yourself to write regularly in a journal, even if you don’t share those thoughts with the world (yet).

It doesn’t really matter how you change things up, as long as you decide how you’re going to do things differently and actively attempt to do so.

What this does is prevent you from spiraling into a doubt-saturated puddle of “I can’t do anything, I’ll never be a successful writer, poor me, I quit.” Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Do better. The only way to fail is to not do anything, and the best way to prevent repeat failures is to just keep doing stuff until something works.

I mean, the process and strategy going into it might be a little more complex than that. But you get the idea.

There is nothing — and I mean NOTHING — wrong with failing as a writer or creator. I can pretty much guarantee it has happened to every single person who makes things for a living AT LEAST once in their lives (but probably more than once, if we’re being honest — which we are).

But there IS something wrong with taking failure to mean you can’t achieve your goals and shouldn’t bother trying. Or avoiding the fact that you failed at all.

First, be honest. Then, keep going. You gain nothing from curling up into a ball and crying about how you want to be a writer but can’t. Just keep writing. It doesn’t matter what. It doesn’t matter if it’s poorly written or the plot is overdone or your dialogue is terrible. IT DOESN’T MATTER, as long as you wrote it and you’re proud of yourself for making that attempt.

The more you write, the more you’ll likely feel motivated to write. And the cycle just continues.

We fail. We get back up. We do better, at least a little bit, every single time.

This is the way of the writer’s journey. Whatever stage of it you’re in, just be glad you’re still in it. And don’t give up, no matter what.

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.