Don’t Undervalue Your Writing

Respect yourself. Know the value you have to offer, even if no one else seems to.

I love writing. I enjoy starting conversations and building communities and lifting other people up. I have known for a long time that, one way or another, using my words to influence people was somehow going to fit into whatever career path I found myself following.

I do not love the way writers are often treated. I have worked with, and hope to continue working with, many wonderful, passionate, enthusiastic, down-to-earth people – those who do the best they can to create a partnership, using their writers as valuable team members. I have also worked with many people interested only in using my skills to their professional advantage for as low of a price as possible – and I am well aware that I am not the only one who has been treated as an easily replaceable mechanism.

We have to deal with enough disrespect in this profession – we already feel undervalued and under-appreciated too much of the time, doing what we’re trained to and actually, usually, enjoy doing. Don’t treat yourself the same way many other people are already treating you and what you have to offer. You deserve so much better than that.

Why? Because in a widely misunderstood sense of the term, you are unique. Meaning, you don’t write the same way another person does. You’re not always interested in writing about the exact same things. And even if you are, even if your niche is already oversaturated, you are able to create something that stands out – come at it from a completely different perspective than another writer might.

There are a lot of people who blog about writing, for example. But I like my no-nonsense, not-just-stating-the-obvious approach to the subject. It’s different. I don’t feel the need to hold my audience’s hand and tell them how they’re supposed to make things work. I’m here to push you off the edge and help you make writing happen on your own. That’s why this works. I wouldn’t keep doing this if I didn’t sincerely believe it’s an important perspective to share with the world.

You deserve self-praise. Because you know how hard you’re working, even if others don’t. You know how this makes you feel – you recognize that, without this project you’re working on, you just wouldn’t be the same person. You wouldn’t be YOU.

You’re going to come into contact with a lot of people over the years who just don’t care about you or your writing. It’s nothing personal – they’ll just have their own agendas, and if they’re not willing to pay you a reasonable compensation, if they’re not completely satisfied with what you’re delivering – heck, if they’re in a bad mood – they’ll have no problem passing you up for someone they think is better for them.

That doesn’t mean you’re not worthy. And if you go around basing your value on how many people pay attention to what you’re doing, you’re going to have a really hard time building up enough confidence to show the world what you can do.

It all starts with you, and your willingness to believe that even if you’re not the best at what you’re doing now, with time, and hard work, you can improve. I don’t think hard work or discipline or resilience or anything required to succeed in writing is possible when self-doubt controls your every move.

There are days I feel like I’m an awful writer, and I get discouraged, and I question why I’m the only who cares about what I’m writing about. But I keep writing anyway, and those feelings and doubts subside. It’s a cycle. But the more you tell yourself your goals aren’t worth the effort, the less likely you are to ever reach them.

I know it’s virtually impossible to change your perspective, if you’re already sitting there convinced you can’t or shouldn’t keep trying. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try. I know what it’s like to feel like all this doesn’t matter – which is why I’m constantly here pushing you to work on this, to keep writing, to stop worrying so much about other people. I sound like a broken record because people’s brains feed off of repetition. Until people start listening, I can’t stop spreading the word.

Whatever it is you like to write about, just keep going at it. It does matter. If it matters to you, that will become obvious to those who read it. That’s really all there is to it. You’re worth the effort.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.

This is Why You’re Stuck in a Rut

Why do you keep writing the same old things?

You’ve been sitting here for half an hour, trying to force yourself to write. You haven’t felt like doing it much, lately. So much so that you’re starting to question whether writing is something you even want to keep doing. Is it worth it? Are you even good enough at it to make it to the next level?

Everyone falls into ruts. It’s often confused with this term you might recognize: ‘writer’s block.’ (For the record, if you don’t already know this – I do not believe writer’s block exists, and will meet every argument you throw at me with evidence that you are wrong … roar.) In these places, you suffer from extreme boredom, doubt and a lack of motivation.

It happens. But do you know why?

It’s actually not about what you’re doing wrong – but instead, what you’re not doing enough of.

It all begins with laziness.

That’s right: you’ve gotten lazy. I’m sorry to say it, but let’s be real here. You’re too comfortable, and you know it. A writing life with zero stress is great!!! Until it gets boring, and you start throwing out every idea you have because, among many reasons, you just don’t feel like tackling it “right now.”

Every writer needs some kind of challenge to keep them going, and you can’t always rely on someone or something else to give that to you. You also have to know how to best challenge yourself.

Can you start posting once every two weeks on a blog covering a topic that requires more in-depth research and careful planning? Can you write and publish an essay you know people are going to get angry about in the comments – even though that makes you uncomfortable? What about writing a novel featuring a main character with beliefs you don’t support?

Would all these things be too hard … or just what you need to get out of your writing funk?

There are some instances in which writing will remain easy – it’s supposed to be freeing, enjoyable and good for the soul, after all. But it can get too easy. You start to confuse boredom with feeling like you don’t want to do this whole writing thing anymore. It’s not that you don’t want to. It’s that your mind needs creative stimulation beyond what you’re currently giving it.

It’s up to you to push yourself. No one can do that for you. Write or work on that thing you’ve been putting off because it’s “too much of” a challenge. Challenging yourself is the most effective way to grow and thrive in the writing world. Keep writing the same old things, stay comfortable, avoid worry and stress, and you’re going to stay at the exact same level you’re at right now, for a very long time.

If that’s what you want, go ahead. Keep doing what you’re doing. But if you really want to go after success, if you really want to earn it, go above and beyond. Push yourself farther than you think you can handle, in terms of storytelling. Dare to test your own limits as a creator. Everyone’s results are different, but you just might be pleased with yours.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.

You Don’t Always Know What You’re Doing Right

We’re doing something right. It’s working. Change is happening.

We all make mistakes. We’re pretty good at it, actually. Over time, we train ourselves to learn from our errors, correct what we’ve been doing wrong and do our best to avoid repeating the same mistake again another day.

We become masters of figuring out our weaknesses, and how to grow stronger.

But sometimes, something weird happens. We check our stats and realize they’re climbing. We note more positive responses to our work. Even when we don’t succeed, we’re very aware of the fact that we came close to doing so this time – closer than we ever have before.

We’re doing something right. It’s working. Change is happening.

And we have no idea what, or why, or how.

Writers, especially those newer to the trade, have the wrong idea about feedback. What people are really looking for is a person who will tell them they are doing a good job – they need someone else to validate their efforts. We’ve ALL been there. And we’ve all experienced those moments when it felt like someone took our work, threw it on the ground and stomped on it.

When people aren’t told what they want to hear, the reality of how this whole writing thing works at last settles in. This is not a middle school classroom, with a teacher whose job it is to critique our essays and grade us on our ability (or lack thereof) to follow directions. No – this is a series of attempts and failures, of doing something over and over again until something works.

The problem is, you don’t always realize what’s working until change has already gradually, but widely, taken effect.

So then what? How do you figure out what the heck you’re doing that’s proving so darn effective?

To say you should just keep doing what you’re doing would be a shallow and lazy response (you know me better than that, I hope?). You might just be sitting there trying one thing after the other, admittedly desperate for something to finally click. So you have to do the one thing I already know you don’t want to do. Go ahead, start kicking and screaming now – get it all out of your system.

You’re going to have to go back through your writing and analyze it yourself.


I know, I know. There isn’t a writer out there who enjoys going back through anything they’ve previously written. It’s horrible. Even that thing you wrote yesterday is already cringe-worthy. It’s not because you’re bad at this – clearly, you’re doing SOMETHING well enough. It’s because reading your own words, there’s still that illusion that you can (and therefore should) change them at any time. This would have sounded better. That would have seemed more clever. I can’t believe I wrote THAT.

But you need to know why Factor X is working. Because you need to keep doing it. You need to start expanding upon it. Things move fast on the internet. You need to get ahead of your own creativity and start building up from it, or you’re going to be left behind. Others are going to catch up and catch on, figure out what you’re doing that’s working, and figure out how to do it better.

Don’t let them.

Because realizing you’re doing something right means you’re on the right track. By no means should you assume you’ve unlocked all the secrets. You’ve found the first clue – you’re still far off from solving all the mysteries that come with success. Don’t stop now. Start running. Fast.

It’s OK to rely on others, sometimes, to help you figure this out. But above all, you must be able to first rely on yourself. Trust your instincts. Trust your gut. If you have a good feeling about what you’re writing, go with it. Race it to the finish line. Start doubting yourself less. Build up a resistance to those who are going to come along and try to knock you down. Don’t be ashamed to be proud. Let your pride fuel your passion, in a good way. When you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, there is no stopping you. Use your powers for good. Keep moving forward. And enjoy it. This is where the fun begins.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.

But I Don’t WANT to Make Money Writing!

How are you supposed to stay motivated when money isn’t an incentive?

These days, it seems like every blog, YouTube channel and podcast related to writing has a common theme: how to make money as a writer. I’ve covered it here, plenty of times.

This is, obviously, because every creative person dreams of turning their art into a full-time career. Nothing at all wrong with that.

Except … what if you don’t really care about making writing your career? At least, not as much as you care about the writing itself?

What if you just want to write, whether you earn a paycheck doing it or not?

How do you motivate yourself to write when there’s not really any financial incentive?

What’s the motivation to do anything, really, if you’re not interested in selling hundreds of copies of your latest book, or whatever it is you’re trying to market for a profit?

For those of you who just want to continue writing as a hobby – and I know you’re out there – just because an income as a writer isn’t your main priority now, or never will be, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your work, measure your progress and lead a fulfilling life as a writer.

First, forget about anyone who bugs you about not wanting to make a career out of writing. You can get published without having to get a book deal or starting a blog with ads surrounding every page. Just because you write “for free” doesn’t mean what you’re writing is any less valuable. Sure, everyone would love to get paid for it. But if you’re not really interested, hey, that’s fine. You can still be proud of your accomplishments.

Measure your improvement through other metrics. While it’s not always all about the views or the followers or the subscribers, if you don’t have an income to measure how you’re doing, you still might need some kind of number to keep yourself on track. You can even measure how much you’ve written in the past week compared to the one before, or set a goal to write a certain number of words by the end of the month. Readers are often hard to come by, especially in the beginning, but tracking how many people are “paying attention” does help – and it’s a nice confidence-booster, too.

Challenge yourself. Don’t write about the same old things day after day. Mix it up. Set higher goals than you’re used to and see if you can reach them. Remember, a good writer never stops improving, never settles, never lets herself get too comfortable. You are allowed to work hard and do something you enjoy just on your own time, “for fun.”

Never lose sight of the drive to write. Writers who aren’t currently interested in making a full-time career out of their art almost (ALMOST) have an advantage over those trying to make a living doing the exact same thing: there’s less pressure. In some cases, that’s not great. But it also means you have the rare opportunity to focus more on the writing itself, and why you’re passionate about it. I’m glad I don’t make money writing fiction, because I’m honestly not sure I would still do it if someone was paying me to. It’s what reminds me I love to tell stories. Maybe it’s the same for you. Maybe not. But no matter what, never let go of that need to create. It’s a part of you, whether it becomes your career or not. Embrace it.

If you want to write because you love it, and that’s it, then go for it. Put all the energy you can into creating something – it’s a gift. Not everyone can or has the desire to do what you do. There is always a chance you might get paid to write someday, and that’s great – it’s the end goal for many people. But it’s OK not to want to, or be able to, focus on that right now. Just enjoy the ride. Maybe someday – or maybe not. Don’t stress yourself out TOO much. You’re doing this for a good reason. Keep it up.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.

Writing Helps Us Cope with Our “What If”s

s writers, we have the power to guide our characters through any and all situations, good and bad.

I spend a lot of time with my “what if”s.

They say you’re not supposed to do that – the past is in the past, you can only change the future in the present, blah blah blah. But I can’t help it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and haven’t, I guess, lived long enough to see all the good that’s supposed to come out of them.

This is why I write.

Well, it’s not the only reason. I write because it fills me up; because it’s the only way I really know how to lift other people up when they’re feeling down. But it also helps me cope with all the things in my life I don’t have the power to change (because, as in control of your life as you might be, there are always going to be things you have no power over).

It explains why I prefer writing young adult fiction, probably. I would do all four years of high school over, if I could. I can’t – and I’ve mostly dealt with that. But writing allows me to travel back to that time and let my imagination sprint into action.

What if I wouldn’t have …

What if I could have …

Wow. I should have done …

As writers, we have the power to guide our characters through any and all situations, good and bad. We don’t always have complete control over how they behave – they have minds of their own and become rebellious teenagers fairly quickly, as you know – but we decide the circumstances they must experience, and how they are affected by them. How they are changed by them.

Doing this reminds us that we don’t know the whole story. We go through it with our characters, laughing with them, crying with them, all the time knowing the ending – that everything is going to work out the way it is supposed to. Whether it’s the way that character imagines it or not.

We don’t know the endings to our own stories. We can’t see how every little thing that doesn’t go our way is actually exactly how all the plot points fit together. We think in “if only”s because we can’t flip to that final page to reassure ourselves it’s all going to be okay – not in real life, at least.

Many people treat writing as an escape. I like to think of it as a very twisted form of therapy. It helps me see my world differently – it helps me look less at myself and my actually pretty small problems and more at the big picture, at least what I can hope it turns out to look like.

If only I’d done this … well, I didn’t, and I can’t go back. But Meredith can make a choice different than the one I made in my own life – maybe it will work out better for her. Maybe it won’t. I get to sit down and figure that out. It doesn’t change where my life stands now. But it makes me feel better.

I don’t think it’s possible to stop asking, “what if?” You’re always going to wonder how things might have been. As a writer, you can explore every single alternate universe at your leisure. That’s power. That makes writing fun. That makes all this hard work seem simple, and worthwhile.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.

On Reading Good Books, and Bad Books

Should we read both good books and bad ones?

Like many writers, I read. A lot. I’ll pretty much willingly give any book you hand me a chance, though I’ll still devour anything YA in a matter of days.

When you read an average of two books a week, you stumble upon some amazing reads. I’m 200 pages shy of finishing The Infinite In Between at the moment, and for reasons I can’t yet fully analyze, it’s wonderful.

You also come across plenty of books that just aren’t good. I don’t subscribe to the belief that a writer should only stick to reading books that are widely publicized and discussed. Every once in awhile I like finding titles no one else has heard of. There’s a chance they could be really good, and just underrated (like the Pendragon series). But there’s a pretty good chance they’re … eh. Just not well put together.

I try not to be over-critical – if a writer has a book out, and they’re not a total jerk about it, I’m happy for them. In publishing, if you have a good story that’s likely to sell, you have a pretty good chance of landing a deal. But I’ve read two kinds of ‘eh’ books – books that are fairly well written, but hollow, story-wise, and books that have intriguing stories with poor, hard-to-get-through writing.

I think it’s important that we read a mix of everything – good and bad. While the good, well-written stories are enjoyable, and sometimes even motivate us to go out and work at our own unfinished projects, less-than-impressive books help us refine our critiquing skills. We see mistakes we’ve made in the past, or things we still do. We notice weaknesses in different parts of the whole. We have that “I would have done this differently” thought – not at all a bad thought, as long as you don’t go tweeting the author directly about it (cringe).

Weirdly, I remember all of the bad books I’ve read over the past few years. They stick out to me in a different way than the really good ones do. It’s not that I don’t like them – I finish reading every single book I start, because I think every author deserves that from me. I just hold onto memories of stories I couldn’t wait to be finished with.

One of the markers of a good story is that it’s nearly impossible to put down. One of the markers of good writing is that it impresses you from start to finish – the kind of writing you pull quotes from because they amaze you so much. I suppose one definition of a good book is that it excels in both of these areas. But just because a book doesn’t, doesn’t mean it’s awful. It just might get only three stars from me on Goodreads (I somehow manage to avoid one- and two-star reviews) which for me means I just didn’t really enjoy it or wasn’t impressed by it.

Reading is essential for writers, in terms of improving skills and initiating a continuous flow of new ideas. Some people only read recommended books – the good ones. Maybe that’s the same mindset as “junk food isn’t good for me so I’m never going to eat it ever” as opposed to “every once in awhile is great.” What do you think?

What do you consider to be a good book? What makes a book “bad”? Do you think it’s a good idea to read both good and bad books, as a writer?

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.

Writing Under Pressure

Sometimes, you have to write to impress.

Writing is a stressful job. Even a stressful hobby. Everyone you offer to write for wants something different. Sometimes they don’t even know what they want upfront. Deadlines often catch people off guard – they think they have more time than they actually do, and their work suffers because of it.

Deadlines aren’t the only situations you will, or should, feel pressured to write well. It’s too easy to get too comfortable – you get lazy, and you don’t even realize it until it completely knocks you over. So when it comes time to actually perform to the best of your ability, it seems all that much harder – and becomes a thousand times more stressful – to exceed your own expectations.

Sometimes, you have to write to impress – and I mean REALLY impress. I still have nightmares about obsessively revising college scholarship essays my senior year of high school (shudder) because, at that point, writing well because my future loan-paying self depended on it was completely new and terrifying.

This has happened again and again – writing for good grades; writing to win over an editor; eventually, writing so someone would pay me to write on a semi-regular basis. Deadlines don’t even faze me anymore – it’s the pressure to be better than I’ve ever been that often trips me up.

Why don’t we do this all the time – write our absolute best work, so it becomes less of a headache every time we sit down to complete an assignment? Because it’s exhausting. Because comfort and constant positive feedback and often a lack of new challenges make it too easy to relax … we figure, well, I’ve proven I can do great. Now I don’t have to try as hard.

Nope – that’s how you get stuck in a rut. We’ve ALL been there, and it’s not a fun place to be.

This is so, so dangerous, and so damaging to our “reputations.” Online, people aren’t always going to stumble upon our best work if anything other than our best work gets put out there. They’ll find that one blog post you wrote a year ago that was an absolute train wreck. It doesn’t look good. This stops many writers from trying … because this scares them. They don’t know what their “best” even looks like.

What I’ve found works for me is to always go over the top – always do more than you think is necessary, especially when you know someone is watching. Do extra research. Ask more questions than you usually do, even if it’s just for clarification. Do that thing where you read through your drafts backwards, sentence by sentence. Put all your effort into one thing, and then another, and then another.

It doesn’t seem worth it – e.g., if you’re just writing a blog post you know only like two and a half people are going to read. What’s the point in trying to write the best thing ever if no one’s going to see it?

The rule when writing online is, you never know. Sometimes I write things, publish them, forget I’ve done that, and when someone I don’t know mentions it on Twitter, I’m just like, “Right, OK, that happened. Someone saw that. Cool.”

The more you write under pressure, the less scary it seems. This is why you always need a just-for-you side writing project – so you’re not constantly writing under stress, which can really hurt your brain and your ability to stay creatively energized. It’s also a great way to practice going all in – taking those risks you’re afraid to take where you know everyone can see them. Some of the best stories I’ve written, no one has ever seen – because I challenged myself to “go there,” and it worked out better than I expected.

Challenges. Overcoming obstacles. Putting more energy into something than you think you have. This is how writers grow. This is how you “make it.” Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But eventually. Eventually, hard work pays off. Good things start happening. Stress is awful in the moment, but once you see how much it’s worth, you won’t mind quite so much.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.

Not Confident Enough to Keep Writing? Fake It.

You are your worst critic. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You also have to learn to be your biggest cheerleader.

I started Novelty Revisions because I am a writer. I understand writers’ biggest struggles and frustrations, and while I don’t always have all the answers, I vowed to do everything I could to help my growing audience make their way through this difficult, yet rewarding, experience.

The deeper I dive into exploring the reasons writers don’t make it – so I can help them figure out how to overcome these things as best I can – the more surprised I am at how many people in general don’t move forward in their writing careers/hobbies simply because of [insert excuse here].

We all make excuses every now and then. I’ve been putting off launching a few new projects this year because of some embarrassing excuses. Yet I’m aware of that, and I’m doing my best to give myself a few good kicks to get going.

One of the most common excuses I notice people giving for not getting their writing done is that they “aren’t confident enough.”

I get it. I do. But at the same time, I’m always tempted to respond: “Well, what are you going to do about it?”

(That can come off the wrong way, and I never want to be mean to a stranger. So I refrain.)

Technically, a lack of confidence is still a pretty lame excuse for not writing. But I can completely understand why this is a roadblock for so many writers. In the very early stages of my life as a writer, I unintentionally weighted most of my worth in how “good” my stories were. If no one liked them, I automatically assumed that meant they didn’t like me. Etcetera, etcetera.

It’s very easy to say, “Well, I just need more confidence.” This is why people beg and plead for feedback on their work. Here’s the thing … it’s not usually feedback on their writing they’re looking for, but validation that they’re not terrible at writing. Which is not what most people give out when offering constructive criticism (this, coming from an editor who LOVES giving feedback).

You know that cliche – fake it till you make it? It has some substance, at least in this case.

This isn’t just something you grow out of or overcome – you have to put actual effort into not letting it stop you from doing what you want to do. Resilience, discipline – it all builds up the harder you work at it. I learned how to write despite almost never feeling good about my art, and if you’re willing, so can you.

“But what if I’m really NOT a good writer?”

Are you going to let that stop you from writing anyway? Really? In college, I learned how to spin flags. I was terrible at it, still am, but it was fun, and I liked it a lot, and that canceled out the fact that I wasn’t willing to work hard enough to get “good.” You can “get good” at anything if you work at it hard and long enough, in most cases. The question is, are you willing to try?

Here’s a little secret … when people read your writing, they can’t tell you aren’t confident. Not most of them. It’s not like standing in the middle of a crowded room, where people can see your knees shaking and hear you stuttering and know right away you’re terrified out of your mind.

People might notice you’re holding back, or that some points of your plot seem weak. But unless it’s someone professionally trained to analyze these kinds of things, a random person probably isn’t going to look at your writing and go, “Wow, you’re not confident at all, are you?”


If you want to be the best writer you can be, you have to fake it. Seriously. Write like you’re the best writer who has ever written a thing, whether you are or you aren’t. I used to do it all the time. And do you know what happened? Every once in awhile, I actually ended up writing something pretty decent (wedged between things that really were pretty awful, though maybe not at the time, considering my age and experience). Because I wrote as if I knew I was good at it – and my work reflected that.

And guess what happens, the more you do that? You become more confident. And you get a little better at what you’re doing. And your confidence continues to grow.

Of course there are still going to be moments you doubt yourself. It happens to me all the time. You have to hold your head up high. You have to believe that you’re doing the best you can. Really. You have to say to yourself, over and over again, “Hey. I’m doing pretty well. Better than I was. Even if no one else seems to think so.”

You are your worst critic. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You also have to learn to be your biggest cheerleader. If you believe you can do something, chances are, you’re going to do it. Fake it until you start succeeding. It IS possible.

I know not feeling confident can feel like the worst thing in the world. TRUST ME, I’ve been there. Just keep writing. No matter what. Keep going. You will feel SO MUCH better about yourself when you do. You’ll be able to say, “Wow. I wasn’t sure I could write this story. But I did it anyway. Hey … I bet I could do that again – and better this time!”

Sounds pretty awesome, huh? So what are you waiting for? Get. Back. To. Writing. (:

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.

If You Can’t Let Go of Instant Gratification, Don’t Be a Writer

It’s time to let go.

I am not a patient person. So I do understand why many writers struggle to stay on the creative path.

I’ve written about patience and the waiting game many times before on this blog – because, like you, I often struggle to come to terms with the fact that I’m going to publish things that don’t produce any instant rewards. And even the empty rewards that do sometimes arise – likes; comments; subscribers – are short-lived.

You work really hard on something, and you’re so, so excited to reveal it to the world (finally!). Yet when you finally do, it’s met with one of the many things writers can’t stand: silence.

It is a writer’s goal, after all, to facilitate conversations. Even when it’s a controversial topic, at least people are talking – even if they’re angry. (Side note – apparently I’ve never actually written out the word ‘controversial’ before, because I had to look up how to spell it. Really?)

So when no one says anything … when there’s no reaction whatsoever … all the doubts pour in.

Ohmygosh. They hate it. I can’t believe I actually published that. It was probably so bad.

It might even end up that hours, days, even weeks or months later, you do get some praise for all your hard work. But, like, gosh – why’d it take so long?

It took so long because, most likely, your writing is not the rest of the world’s first priority. It took me embarrassingly long, as a teenager, to learn this. No one taught me – I just figured out that as long as I kept producing work, eventually, people who were interested in reading it or who I’d reached out to about it would get around to it.

That’s how you have to think – people who want this will find their way to it, in the sense that just because you publish something at 11:15am does not mean someone is going to click on it at 11:16am. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The reality is, instant gratification when it comes to writing does not exist. Especially not for beginners. People don’t know who you are or what you do yet. There is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting your work. But you can’t expect people to drop everything to flock to your masterpieces. The internet just doesn’t work that way.

So how do you get over your obsession with instant gratification?

You write. A lot. And you publish. A lot. You pitch. A lot. You wait. A LOT. Because the more you do these things, the more normal it becomes. THIS DOESN’T MEAN IT GETS EASIER. I’ve been doing this for a LONG time, and it’s still practically unbearable when I submit something and I don’t get a response within the same day. Gasp.

It just means you come to expect that you’re not going to get feedback or reactions or answers nearly as quickly as you’re going to want them.

This is the harsh reality of the writing life. Is it horrible? Yeah, sometimes – because we’re so used to always being digitally in the know that being in the dark is terrifying. You either learn to cope with it, or you don’t. You either keep writing and publishing and trusting that you’re doing the best you can without someone else having to tell you so or otherwise … or you just walk away.

I don’t want you to walk away. And if you’re already away, I hope you’ll come back. Just because that one editor from that one big literary magazine didn’t respond to your submission doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It means you’re just never going to know whether or not they read or even received your work. That’s something we all have to live with, no matter how hard it is.

In terms of finding feedback, many suggest finding Facebook groups or forums where you can pair up with a critique partner. I don’t do this – because at the moment I don’t have time to critique others’ work, and therefore can’t expect them to do the same for me – but it’s all about finding a healthy balance between engaging with other people’s work as much as you want them to engage with yours. But even then – again – you’re usually not someone else’s first priority. Waiting is hard, but it’s also necessary.

These things take time. But it’s about more than patience – it’s also about confidence. You have to have faith in yourself. Because there aren’t always going to be audience members around who will tell you how you’re doing. You have to believe you’re doing OK. You have to keep trying, and keep trying, and keep trying. You can never fail when you try – only when you don’t.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.

On Feeling Inspired, But Unmotivated

They are not the same THING.

Why do so many people use “inspiration” and “motivation” interchangeably? It’s one of my many pet peeves, as a writer.

To be inspired means something has planted a tiny idea seed inside your head that you just want to rush home and start watering like crazy. To be motivated means you’re able to act on those feelings of inspiration. Inspiration is a mood, of sorts. Motivation is a willingness to do something in the midst of that state of mind.

Someone’s TED Talk has inspired me to write a short story about poverty in food deserts. Yet I just can’t seem to gather up the motivation to actually sit down and start writing it. Hypothetically.

What makes this so frustrating – the fact that these two things are very different – is that you can be inspired without having any motivation whatsoever to actually do something about it. And you can also feel extremely motivated to do SOMETHING, but you burn through all that motivation trying to find something to use it on.

And they wonder why the life of a writer is so exhausting.

The other issue for many is that you can’t go “looking” for either of these things. Inspiration and motivation are not things to be found – they simply happen. Unfortunately, while The Sims 4 has us believing a quick shower can inspire us to write a novel, it’s not a cure-all (if ONLY).

Both of these things more often than not come from either consuming some form of media or actively engaging in creating something – which far too many writers aren’t willing to do, because they’re too busy scrolling through inspirational quotes on Tumblr.

I feel inspired when I am consuming (e.g., listening to a TED Talk) and motivated completely at random. Yesterday I woke up at 4am feeling motivated to get up and do something with all my energy – but, lacking a source of inspiration so early in the morning, I of course did not get up.

It’s different for everyone. Which is why this is one of far too many instances when I can only talk about something, and struggle to give generic advice to the masses.

How do you get motivated when you’re feeling inspired? You just do something, I guess, even when you don’t want to. “Not feeling like it” is the most annoying excuse you can give, even to yourself, for not taking advantage of your inspiration. And as for feeling inspired when you’re motivated – I’ve found that using my motivation to get actual work done first leaves more room for the fun stuff later. Honestly, I’m almost never motivated to work on my two unfinished novels. I work on them anyway, paragraph by paragraph.

Acting on your inspiration right away is both essential and uncertain – because while you might feel inspired to write a random short story on a specific topic, you might not have the time or the energy or the background knowledge supposedly necessary to do it right now.

So when you’re inspired, you have to focus on the idea, instead of the product, first. Develop the idea in your head or on paper before you start working on the tangible thing itself – it’s more fun (less work, or it seems like it) and not quite as overwhelming as diving into a project you don’t feel like you’re ready to tackle just yet.

Learning the difference between these two things, and how to take advantage of each – in ways that work for you – is how you handle the inspiration vs. motivation dilemma. In short, doing something is better than doing nothing when it comes to putting ideas into words.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-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.