When You’re Feeling Uninspired, Revisit Your Favorite Stories

Don’t give up yet.

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In preparation for The Last Jedi, I am re-watching all live-action Star Wars movies to date in the days leading up to the day I have tickets (not Thursday or Friday, but I’ll survive).

I love these stories. Always have. They actually inspired me to start getting more serious about fiction writing in junior high (yeah, I’m a nerd, I’ve fully embraced it).

I just finished Revenge of the Sith which, in my opinion, is one of the most heartbreaking ends to a trilogy I have ever seen.

Granted, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve seen very few movies. But whatever. I just cried for an hour and a half straight. Let me have my moment.

I’ve spent a lot of time with these stories, and the expanded universe, and the newly formed expanded universe (sigh). But there’s just something about returning to a familiar fictional world that has inspired me to continue creating with a new wave of determination and passion behind me.

I needed a reminder that writing stories audiences will love requires putting your characters through many tough things. Things you don’t like. Things you know will leave your readers screeching in protest in response to your plot twists and surprise reveals.

You see, I sort of almost gave up on my book earlier this week.

The book I’m now almost 67,000 words into — meaning, I’m almost, almost done.

Why did I consider quitting? Because i got hard, guys. I got cranky. I didn’t want to do it anymore. It was too sad. It was too draining. Without NaNoWriMo, I started feeling a little unmotivated, without a big reason to keep going.

So why have I kept going anyway?

Because what would have happened if George just gave up? Huh? We’d have no Star Wars. That sounds like a terrible world to live in.

I’m not saying my stories will ever have as much value as those set in a galaxy far, far away. Nope.

But what happens if my story is just meant to be out there, and I never let it have its moment?

That wouldn’t be fair to my future readers. Or to myself. I haven’t put almost six weeks into this book just to quit for no reason other than it got a little difficult.

If you’re struggling to keep going, I encourage you to go back to those stories you love. The ones that inspired you to start writing in the first place. The ones that remind you why continuing on — and finishing — are worth the struggle.

If the writers of your favorite stories quit, those stories never would have found you.

Where would you be now, if it weren’t for them?

Don’t give up. You’re not done yet.

You will be. As long as you keep going.

I know you can do it. Trust your instincts. Write. No matter how hard it is. You won’t regret 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.


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Do You Really Need to Set Writing Goals?

Are goals really necessary?

Experts talk a lot about goals. In the personal development and even the creative space, you pretty much have to have a goal for everything you want to do, or it probably won’t happen.

I know that can get tiring after awhile. And I understand that, after months and months of setting goals — most of which you might not have achieved, even if you came close — you might feel like it’s time to enter a new year without setting even a single writing goal.

What’s the point, if you aren’t going to make it to your goal?

Why can’t you just promise yourself you’re going to write, and leave it at that?

It’s quite possible that you’re not someone motivated by goal-setting. That’s OK. No one can force you to work toward something.

But it’s also possible the reason goal-setting hasn’t worked for you in the past is because you’re not setting the right goals — or going about the goal-setting process in a way that works for you.

Maybe you’re setting goals you personally can’t reach in the amount of time you’re giving yourself. If a goal isn’t achievable based on your skill level or the amount of time you have, of course you’re not going to do it. Aiming high isn’t always the right way to go.

Maybe you’re trying to do too many things at once. I’m guilty of this. I set wayyyy too many goals this year, and haven’t accomplished most of them — not because I didn’t work hard, but because I just tried stretching myself in too many different directions all at once. Narrow it down. Pick a few to start with and see what happens from there. You can have one goal at a time, and not set a new one until you finish the first one.

Maybe you don’t actually want to accomplish the thing you keep saying you want to accomplish. It happens. Be honest with yourself. If it’s not actually something you’re interested in doing — either at the time or later on — it’s OK to just let it go and focus on something you actually do care about.

And those goals you have that aren’t completely in your control — e.g., finishing school, even if you’d rather not; financial goals you’re not sure are going to pan out the way you want — write them down, at least. Even if you don’t have an action plan right now. You can always come back to them later, when you’re ready to tackle them. Having them on a list is a really good place to start, though.

Setting a goal is a commitment. But don’t avoid it just because you’re afraid you won’t accomplish it. You’re much more likely to do it if it’s a tangible finish line you want to reach, rather than a barely spoken idea you never return to at a later date.

Is it scary, sometimes? Yep. Welcome to creativity, where most things aren’t certain and every new thing you come across is basically terrifying beyond reason.

If you want to set writing goals you’ll actually achieve, start here.

And if you’re not interested in setting writing goals at all — well, that’s up to you. Having at least one goal will make your life a lot easier. Don’t be like me and set 25 goals in one year, because you probably won’t accomplish most of them, and that might make you sad.

Just one. That’s all. Will you do 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.


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Write Down Your “I Want to Do That” Moments

Do you really want to do that?

Have you ever watched, listened to, or read something someone else has created — or heard the story of how they accomplished that thing — and thought, “I want to do that”?

Me, too.

Though you may not realize it, these “I want to do that” moments are critical to the progression and success of your creative journey.

These are the moments when you’re most honest with yourself. When you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to admit that the thing you’re seeing or hearing is something you want to be a part of.

Whether you think it or say it out loud, it means something. It’s less of a dream, and more of a goal. It moves from your subconscious to your conscious thoughts — it becomes something you consider, instead of something you’re simply imagining.

Here’s the truth about “I want to do that.”

If you want to do it, you can do it.

No, really. You can.

Not right away, obviously. Most things take time and effort, practice and practice and more practice.

But it’s possible.

Here’s something I’ve started doing. I have this piece of paper. It’s just a random sheet with a pen next to it that I keep on my desk.

Whenever I see/hear someone I follow talk about what they’re doing or what they’ve done, and I think, “Wow – I would love to do that someday” — I write that down on that piece of paper.

There are a lot of repeats. I want to publish a book. I want do do xyz. But that’s the point. That’s how you figure out the things you really, really want to accomplish — and continuously remind yourself those things are important to you.

You want to do it. So start doing it. Starting is hard, but it’s better than nothing.

You have excuses. Reasons. Roadblocks. Fears. We all do. But part of creating things is learning that you’re allowed to do it whether it’s good or not, whether others are watching or not, whether you’re fully confident or not.

It’s very likely that this thing you want to do is nothing new. We just become more aware of the things we like, and the personal aspirations we attach to them, as we grow, both in age and skill level.

It’s very likely that you want to do it for the right reasons. Those are the ones that stick around, that repeat on your list, that matter most to you. You want to start a blog because you have knowledge to share, not because you want to be a famous blogger (whatever that means these days). You want to publish a book because you have stories to tell, not because you want to be an award-winning author.

Once you realize how much effort has to go into getting where you want to go, the things that aren’t actually important to you tend to drop off and disappear. The things that you really care about? You hold onto them. You keep pursuing them. Or, you want to, at least.

Record those moments. Remember what your end goals are. That’s going to help you sort out your creative life, no matter how long it takes you to get from where you are to where you want to be.

You. Can. Do. 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.


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Discover What Will Motivate You Right Now

You can do this.

Many writers have trouble starting.

Most of the time it’s because they’re too distracted by other things (we’re all guilty of it). Sometimes it’s because you’re not “in the zone” yet.

Thankfully there are a lot of ways to get there. The problem is that everyone reaches this point in different ways — there’s no universal strategy that’s guaranteed to work for everyone. For some, it’s music. For others, a few chapters of a book or an episode of a TV show. Maybe working out gets you going. Maybe you’re just a superhuman and feel motivated to write all the time, all day, every day (if only).

The other issue is that you might not have just one “motivator.” You might have two, or 20, or 100. And they’re always changing.

Your go-to “get ready to write” strategy shifts constantly, which just makes all this that much harder to figure out.

For me right now it’s blasting Lindsey Stirling in the background. It only takes a few songs for me to go, “Okay, I’m ready.” But tomorrow it could be different. Tomorrow I might need an inspirational quote (no matter how often I roll my eyes at them), or my favorite breakfast, or playtime with my fur baby.

The thing that motivated you as you worked on your last project might not have the same effect with this next one. And it’s probably always going to change from month to month, week to week, maybe even from day to day. Some days you might not even need anything “extra” — you can just get up and start creating.

This isn’t the same thing as “looking for inspiration,” which is a terrible way to spend your writing time. There’s a difference between motivation and inspiration, for one thing — but there’s also a difference between going out and looking for reasons to write and pumping yourself up to do the writing you already know you want/have to do.

This is why I always recommend blocking out a short block of time to mentally prepare yourself for writing before you actually dive in. It’s like the warmup period before you start your HIIT workout. The jog before you start running. The caffeine before you start functioning.

If you want to write, but you just can’t get to the starting line, don’t give up. There is a way. Sure, some days, you’re just going to lay down and stay there and not get anything done. But don’t let that day be every day.

I know it’s hard. Writing is not an easy task. You knew that going into it (at least I hope you did!). When you’re not feeling it, just remember how it feels once you’re done. You’re not always going to enjoy the process. But the end result is always worth the effort.


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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16 Self-Care Tips for Worn-Out Writers

Take care of yourself.

1. Get some sleep. It really helps to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends, to make it easier to fall asleep and get out of bed on time.

2. Drink water. You can’t write well when you’re dehydrated!

3. Don’t jump straight into writing. It’s tempting, but it’s work — let yourself wake up a little first. Give yourself some time to mentally prepare for the day ahead.

4. Do something early on in the day that stimulates your brain but isn’t work. Reading a book, journaling, having some coffee — NOT CHECKING YOUR EMAIL!

5. Set two writing goals for yourself tomorrow: a high goal and a low goal. If you clear the low goal, but can’t push yourself to reach the high goal, at least you’ll still have accomplished something.

6. Figure out when you’re most — and least — productive, writing-wise. If you’re most productive at 3 a.m., let yourself write at 3 a.m. If you can’t write after 5 p.m., don’t force yourself to, at least not consistently.

7. Establish a “distraction-free” zone within your writing space.

8. Also create a writing space separate from your play/social time space. E.g., don’t write in your bedroom like I did for about 15 years (oops).

9. Get up and walk around every once in awhile. It’ll help you think, and it’s good for your health.

10. If you’re too tired to write tonight, don’t. But don’t let that be your excuse for more than 2 days in a row. Don’t make it a habit.

11. If you don’t meet your writing goals today, don’t worry — it happens. But try again the next day. Don’t let yourself get too discouraged. Tomorrow is a new day.

12. Write stuff that makes you happy or inspires you to make a difference.

13. Write stuff that challenges you, your beliefs, and your ambitions.

14. Connect with other people. Writers and non-writers. Humans need other humans to be happy.

15. Take breaks. Writers don’t write all the time.

16. Say nice things about yourself. Nobody’s perfect. Mistakes are good. They mean you’re learning.


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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Can You Succeed As a Writer If You Lack Self-Confidence?

Is this really the only thing stopping you?

Do you struggle with self-confidence? Does it constantly hold you back from reaching your writing goals and achieving your greatest ambitions?

You’re not alone. Many people who want to write never actually do it. They’re too afraid of being judged. Criticism feels like the worst possible outcome to a lot of people. And I can understand why.

I’ve dealt with this my whole life. Confidence issues combined with impostor syndrome feels a lot like I’m just writing terrible things all day long that no one actually cares about.

But do you know what? I keep writing things anyway, whether they’re good or not. Because no matter how confidence-deficient I might be most of the time, you don’t get anywhere in life giving in to the fear that people won’t like you. I get bashed on Twitter all the time because of my job. Who cares?

I mean … I do. But I don’t let that stop me. And neither should you.

If you lack self-confidence, and it’s standing in the way of your writing, you’re pretty much the only thing stopping you. Here’s what’s helped me along my journey to “becoming” a writer.

Fake it.

It doesn’t matter how awful you think your writing is. It doesn’t matter how much it scares you to put yourself out there. It doesn’t matter how terribly you react to criticism in the safety and privacy of your own personal domain.

No one else has to know. Or wants to.

Publishing a piece of writing is sort of like walking into a job interview. You wouldn’t go in there and degrade yourself or tell your prospective employer not to hire you because you don’t think you are good enough.

No. You walk into a job interview with your head high, and you list off your accomplishments and aspirations as if you truly believe they are worth something.

I think part of you already does believe your past successes and future goals have worth. There’s just a much louder, more assertive part of you saying they don’t.

Many, many writers lack confidence. But they’re also very good at hiding it. Many more deal with impostor syndrome, and have simply learned to accept praise and recognition with genuine gratitude whether they fully believe they deserve it or not.

The more you keep doing the things you think you aren’t good at, the more you’ll realize you have a much lesser opinion than yourself than most other people do. (The reality is that most people don’t have an opinion of you at all, because you’re one of like 7 billion or whatever, but you get the point.)

Will you gain more confidence over time? Is this a “fake it till you make it” kind of scenario? I think that depends on the person. I’ve been writing, technically, for almost 20 years. I’m still not confident in most of the things I create. I do it anyway, because it makes me happy. People are going to either judge you or ignore you, praise you or tear you down. That’s life. It’s going to happen whether you’re willing to accept it or not.

Talk about your work as if it’s important. As if it truly matters. Because to you, it obviously does, or you never would have bothered to write it. Audiences are drawn to confidence. Show them you’re someone worth following, even if you’re not always sure you want them to.

Don’t let yourself sabotage your own future. If I can make it through, you can, too.


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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The Problem With Writing Too Much

There are downsides.

Many writers seem to fall at one of two ends of the quantity spectrum when it comes to writing. They seem either to struggle to write enough to meet their goals, or they go overboard — writing so much that it actually becomes a problem.

I personally fall on the more prolific side of the line (if that wasn’t already obvious….). People ask me how I manage that. Honestly, it’s just how I’m wired.

You might think this is a blessing, not a curse. Sometimes it’s a nice perk. But for me, it’s led to a lot of issues with time management and creative burnout in the past. I want to do too much too quickly, and then I wonder why I’m so tired at the end of a long week.

It’s a continuous learning experience for me. Even when I feel like I have the energy to work on five different things at once, it’s important to hold myself back. To slow down and take my time. To pace myself, so I don’t get in over my head. Again.

We’re all plagued with this fear that if we don’t write something, edit something, publish something as quickly as possible, it’s never going to happen. I can understand this from an internal motivation standpoint. If I want to work on my novel, I’m going to work on it — because tomorrow, I might not feel as driven to do the same thing.

But we rush ourselves too much, sometimes. Some have trouble finishing what they start because they pressure themselves too intensely to produce something flawless as fast as possible. Others end up getting a lot done, but they end up making less time for self-care. And that either makes their writing less effective, they enjoy it less, or both.

I don’t think there’s a set amount that’s considered “acceptable” to write every day. Some people can write 5,000+ words a day — that’s great, but not realistic for all, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better off than someone who only writes 500 words a day.

There’s no fine line between too little and too much. Your ideal daily output depends on you, your schedule, and your goals. Maybe you want to train yourself to write more. Maybe you need to work on writing a little less, to choose daily/weekly consistency over daily quantity.

If you need to work on writing more, well, this post probably wasn’t that helpful. But remember, a little bit every day is better than nothing. It might not seem like it, but even 250 words is a lot, compared to zero.

Either way — you can do this. Creating stuff is hard. Figuring out how to balance that, and everything else, is even harder.

Write. But don’t let yourself go too far over the edge. Your ideas are still going to be there when you sit down at your laptop/tablet/notebook tomorrow. I could keep writing after this. But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to relax. Ha. Whatever that means.


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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Can You Call Yourself An Expert?

What is an expert?

I’ve probably dealt with impostor syndrome most of my writing life.

Growing up, many of my teachers told me writing was my “thing,” that I was good at it, that they were impressed with my work and my craft. And I always just thought they were saying these things to be nice.

The first time I had something published, I did not feel like I had earned it. I felt like I’d cheated, somehow. I thought people felt sorry for me, and kept encouraging me to write because they couldn’t think of anything else kind to say to my face.

Who knows? Maybe all these things are true. Maybe I really don’t deserve to be where I am today.

But.

I did not graduate from college and instantly find success.

I struggled just as much as any other recent graduate to find work that gave me purpose and utilized the skills I had developed over time.

That’s why a small part of me recognizes that I’ve earned the title of “writer.”

No one has ever handed anything to me. I’ve received more rejections from publications than I can count. I’m just like every other writer. I started a blog by myself. I found writing experience by myself. I found a way to make it work. By myself. No one did that for me.

Here’s the problem with being a 25-year-old writing professional.

Even if no one says it to your face, you’re terrified that people think you’re not legit. People with decades of experience and multiple published bestsellers? They deserve to be called experts.

I don’t. Do I?

Of course, I have the added misfortune of trying to establish myself as a writing professional in the health space. Forget my master’s degree, no one trusts anything I have to say about this stuff. If you’re not a dietitian, if you haven’t published a book, if you’re not a food blogger, no one gives a crap about you.

Yes, I personally am aware that letters after your name and a book available on Amazon aren’t what make you a writing expert. But that can’t be said for everyone. Many people might look at my “accomplishments” and wonder what makes me credible. Nothing, if we’re going by CVs, I guess. Yet.

At what point can someone call themselves an expert? At what point do you NEED to?

I think it’s different for everyone, for every industry.

Maybe the term “expert” means something different depending on who you are, what you’re doing, and how you want to use that aura of expertise.

Maybe it means nothing, and we’re all just unnecessarily competing with each other to make money talking about stuff we like to study and learn.

I’m not going to call myself an expert if it looks like I’m trying too hard to be one.

I know a lot about writing. I help people. I tell stories. For me, I think that’s enough. If people want to trust and follow my advice, great. If they don’t, whatever. I guess that’s not my problem.

We all want to be credible. To be trusted and known and appreciated. But we can’t let that stand in the way of our true purposes. I’ve held myself back in a lot of ways because I’ve been afraid to assert my knowledge on a particular subject. Just because I’m afraid of what other people will think about me.

That’s silly. How much time I’ve wasted being afraid to say, “I can tell you what I know about that.”

Expert or not, I like sharing what I learn with other people. If that’s how I spend my life, and I can make a small difference in the world, I’m happy. I’m good.

I hope you can be, too.


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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What Are Your Biggest Writing Struggles?

What’s driving your struggle bus?

I have been writing for a long time.

If we want to get technical, I guess I started writing things down consistently when I was in first grade. My mom bought me my first “diary,” and I used it to tell my future self all about my life.

That eventually branched out into many other literary endeavors — poems and song lyrics, short stories, eventually books, a blog, and so on.

I’ve never stopped writing. I’ve gotten pretty good at it as a result, at least, that’s what I tell myself whenever I get up in the morning and don’t want to do the writing thing.

My writing has grown a lot this year, and I’ve grown along with it. But there’s something that’s been bothering me for a long time. And I feel it’s the best time of year to address it.

My biggest struggle this year has actually been not knowing what my audiences struggle with.

I spend a lot of time feeling guilty, because I often don’t struggle with the same things other writers do. I don’t have trouble finishing what I start, I always find time to write, I never seem to be short of ideas. My impostor syndrome tricks me into thinking I’m cheating somehow — that I’ve earned a lot of praise and recognition I just don’t deserve.

My biggest fear is that my strengths as a writer make me too closed-minded and unsympathetic toward my readers — and these are NOT things I want to stand in the way of connecting with and helping you.

First …

I briefly, want to apologize if my advice or stories have ever come off the wrong way. Just because I’ve been doing this a long time does not mean I am “better” than anyone else, nor do I perceive myself that way. I have a lot of experience, and sometimes that’s a problem.

Since starting this blog, I have always aimed to help and encourage anyone who comes across my words. Sometimes I brush off others’ complaints with a simple, “Well, you’re just making it harder than it should be.” Maybe I’ve been wrong to look at the writing process that way.

I don’t know. No one has ever gotten mad at me for being blunt, for showering my readers in tough love. But sometimes I try to joke about things and it doesn’t carry over in blog posts and I hope no one has come away from any of my words feeling worse than when they got here.

Am I actually helping anyone? You guys tell me when I do, and I really appreciate that.

I just know there are a lot of struggling writers out there. And I’m a fixer. I like to offer solutions. I just wonder if mine are … I don’t know. Unhelpful.

It’s really hard to know these things for sure when your audience doesn’t tend to give suggestions back. And I don’t expect anyone to do this frequently. I appreciate that most of you understand that constructive feedback isn’t ALWAYS the best response.

But now’s the time to “speak” up. If you so desire.

Second …

I wanted to officially unofficially announce that I’m (maybe?) going to start offering coaching services to my Patreon supporters sometime in 2018.

I truly believe some one-on-one back-and-forth could really help a lot of people nail down what’s keeping them from their writing inspirations and help them make progress in whatever they’re working on.

It would really, really help me if you could give some insight into what your biggest writing hangups are. What’s that one hurdle you’ve tried to clear that you just can’t?

If you could leave your insights in a comment, that would really mean a lot to me. In return, I hope I can somehow incorporate your suggestions into this new thing I’m considering/trying.

Keep in mind that Novelty Revisions is mainly about the creative process. I want to focus this coaching on helping you get writing done — not on how to write, or how to get published, or how to make money. I’m not saying I won’t ever help you with these things on an individual level. I just need to keep the focus extremely narrow for now, to see if it’s even anything you guys are interested in.

If you aren’t, well, it just won’t happen and that’s the nature of creativity. Sometimes the stuff you want to make never gets made. That’s that.

Be honest. What’s driving your struggle bus? Let me know. I want to help, if you want me to.


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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Here’s Why I Left Freelance Writing

Work hard so you can choose to say, “No thanks.”

I lasted about 22 months as a paid freelance writer before I finally called it quits.

I think every aspiring writer should freelance, if they’re able, if they want the experience. I’m not here to bash the industry as a whole. There simply came a point where I realized I’d learned and gained everything I was going to learn and gain from seeking out new clients. So I stepped back.

I write in the health sciences and nutrition niche, so my experiences and viewpoints might differ a lot from yours. But I wanted to share the reasons behind my decision to focus on my job, my blog, and my own personal projects instead of earning extra money working with businesses to create content.

I got tired of writing product reviews and sales pages. A common reason why businesses hire freelancers in the health space is to sell their products. That doesn’t really align with my mission statement, especially working with businesses trying to sell supplements and programs I don’t agree with. Forget quality content, they just wanted to make money, not teach people how to be healthy. That’s not where I want to focus my energy. I’m trying to build a career here.

Half my clients couldn’t pay me. They stopped giving me work “temporarily” because they couldn’t afford my hourly rate. While I appreciate the honesty (at least I’m assuming they were telling the truth), and the fact that they didn’t ask me to work for free, I think this speaks to the many flaws with freelancing for online audiences. If you aren’t willing to pay writers what they’re worth … good luck.

My credentials didn’t matter — they actually gave me a disadvantage. Many prospective clients would have rather hired someone without credibility in the health space than someone with a master’s degree because people without experience charge lower hourly rates. I’d started working with a few high-profile clients where this wasn’t the case, but a few clients isn’t enough to pay the bills.

I was lucky enough to have a full-time job to fall back on. Compared to clients who barely paid me, weren’t interested in growing with me or establishing meaningful professional relationships, didn’t respect my expertise and couldn’t have cared less about their readers, I was happy to say yes to writing for a media company and goodbye to everything else.

I wasn’t happy. I dreaded logging into my email every evening. I had to work seven days a week to keep up with my clients’ demands. And I wasn’t producing content I was proud of. These are all signs it’s time to quit. Forget money, forget exposure — if you aren’t happy, continuing is a very reckless and self-sabotaging move.

I have other, bigger, better projects in mind. I wasn’t happy with the amount of effort I was(n’t) putting into this blog. I have big plans and perks for my Patreon supporters and casual readers alike. I also want to create other things I wouldn’t have time to work on if I had to keep answering to a dozen “bosses.” Also … there are a lot of unread books hiding in boxes in my room. So there’s that.

In the beginning, none of these things really mattered. But once I achieved the two things I really sought to achieve as a freelancer — building up my savings in my early 20s and landing a full-time writing job in my niche of choice — honestly, I just didn’t need it anymore.

I’m very fortunate to be in that place, when just two years ago I couldn’t get a paid writing job to save my life. And I have freelancing to thank for how much I have grown as a writer and as a human being.

Whether you’re trying to transition from a full-time job to freelancing or you’re just trying to make extra money while you figure out how writing fits into your life, always remember that a writing job is never worth sacrificing your happiness or your goals. Yes, you’re going to have stretches of misery along the way (I believe it’s a rite of passage). Yes, sometimes, you have to do what you have to do.

But make it a point to work hard enough that you have the option to choose where you dedicate your creative energy. Whether you end up freelancing or blogging full-time or starting a business or publishing a book. Those of you who have been here for a few years likely remember how much I struggled. I never thought I’d be in this position. But I worked harder than I probably should have to get here. Now I can say, “Writing that doesn’t fulfill me,” and I’m in control of whether or not I have to put up with it.

If you’re feeling underpaid, undervalued, disrespected, and miserable — I’ve been there. All you can do is take writing one day at a time. You’re going to have to put up with a lot of garbage. But that’s how you get to the better stuff on the other side.

I still get put down on Twitter all the time by experts who think I don’t understand science because I’m not well-known, or I’m young, or I’m a woman, or whatever their excuse is. That stuff never ends. But I only have to swallow it in bite-sized pieces now. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve survived the obstacle course. I hope you can, too. I hope you make it through. I believe in you. I hope you believe in you, too.


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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