How Blogging Can Help You Land Your First Writing Job

Blogging can teach you a lot.

At this point in the game, having a blog isn’t unique. People aren’t surprised when you mention you have one. However, blogging is one way to make yourself stand out when you’re interviewing for a professional writing job.

But it’s not just that having a website or blog makes you look good. Yes, editors and hiring managers like to see that you have an online presence, that you keep it updated and professional. There’s a lot more having a blog can do than make your resume shine, though. Here’s how keeping a blog might make you a much more worthy candidate than someone without one.

Finding your voice and refining your style

At first, writing is uncomfortable. The same way you learned to read in short, simple sentences, you began writing simply — and, consequently, rather robotically. The fish did not want to swim. The fish wanted to fly. The fish flew. The fish was happy. You don’t notice it, but the longer you spend writing, the more comfortable, readable, and conversational your writing becomes. There are different forms of writing — you wouldn’t write an academic abstract in the same style or tone you’d write a blog post. But regardless of the genre, you develop your own writing style the more you write. Blogging really helps you learn how to write well, in your own style — and trust me, that makes you much more likely to get hired.

Writing for an audience

Many, if not most, writing-related job interviews will involve a pitching stage — you pitch a set of articles to prove to an editor you understand the audience and appropriate subject matters and angles for the publication you’re applying to work for. That requires familiarizing yourself with an audience made up of people you don’t know — you only know what they like to read about. As an editor, I’ve come across many writers who can’t make it past this part of the process. I think blogging really has the potential to teach you how to write not for yourself, but for others and their specific interests. When I started blogging, I still struggled with the “who” part of writing. Eventually, I figured out I was writing to other writers. Now, identifying the preferences and needs of audiences is much, much easier.

WordPress

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that during EVERY writing-related job interview I’ve ever had (and most client inquiries as well), I’ve been asked about my WordPress experience. Not only did I use WordPress during my first writing internship, but I’d already been using it three years prior to that as a blogger. I know not everyone uses WordPress, but if you do use it to publish your blog content, you’re going to have an advantage over anyone that doesn’t. You don’t have to be an HTML wizard or anything, but having prior experience is likely an important bonus checkmark. Even if you don’t host your blog through WordPress.com like I do, you can still use it through whatever hosting you do use.

Learning discipline

Blogging takes a lot of effort, especially if you’re super serious about growing your audience. You have to write even when you don’t want to. You have to respond to people’s comments (*gasp*). There are a lot of “I need to do this if I want my future self to be happy” moments. To write professionally, discipline is essential, especially if it’s a remote writing position. I wouldn’t be able to work full-time from my home “office” if blogging hadn’t taught me how to sit down, stop whining, and get stuff done. Blogging is an excellent practice tool for learning to be productive when it’s the last thing you want to be doing today (or ever).

Diversifying your skill set

It’s not just about how well you write anymore. It’s about how good you are at sourcing photos, your design or photography skills, your social media savviness. Writers have to do more than just write — and there’s no better way to learn and master that than hosting your own blog. I’m no expert in most of these things, but I’ve been asked where I get photos from, if I’ve ever shot video, if I know anything about Facebook. Most of what I know about all of these things, I’ve taught myself, on my own time, for my blog.

Having a blog doesn’t guarantee the job is yours. But you’ll learn many of the things you might need to know when your next — or first — job interview comes around. You know you’re in good shape when you can think to yourself, “Oh yeah. I know how to do that. I do it on my blog all the time.”

Now, go blog something. You know you want to.


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.


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12 Times You Thought You Totally Failed As a Writer (But You Didn’t)

Rejected … again.

1. You started writing a story, but you never finished.

2. You finished writing a story, but you haven’t touched it since.

3. You told yourself you were going to submit something you wrote, but never did.

4. You did submit something, but you never heard back.

5. You did hear back — and all you got was rejection.

6. You’re discouraged by the feedback you’re getting — you’re not as “good” as you thought you were.

7. Your book didn’t sell as many copies as you hoped it would.

8. Your blog doesn’t have as many readers as you thought it would by now.

9. You’re not making as much money writing as you think you should be.

10. You’re not as excited about your latest project as you were when you started it.

11. You want to give up. Quit.

12. You have given up already, because things didn’t work out the way you dreamed they would.

All these things don’t collectively make you a failure. They mean you are learning and growing. There isn’t a single writer out there who starts out knowing exactly what to do, exactly how to do it well, and with enough skill and experience to create success in a matter of months. All writers start in the same place: never having written anything before. We all have to figure it out. We all have to try something a dozen different times, a thousand different ways, before we either quit or something starts working.

You are not a failure. You are a writer. If you were perfect, if everything you did worked out the way you hoped it would, success wouldn’t even be worth it. It’s the thrill of it all, the fear of failing, the relief when you finally do something right — and the uncertainty that you’ll ever do it well again — that makes challenging yourself worth the achievement.


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.


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Falling In (and Out) Of Love With Your Stories

Is it time to let go and move on?

I’ve had this idea for a new book since the beginning of 2017. Though my brain continuously adds elements to the main storyline, I haven’t really started working on it yet. It’s my determination to finish first drafts of my two unfinished books that’s kept me away from pursuing a new idea — plus the fact that I want this year’s NaNoWriMo, my tenth and last, to be more special and exciting than ever before.

It’s hard to shake off the guilt we feel when a new love interest/story idea comes along. It’s bright and sparkly, it’s appetizing and irresistible. Yet the thought of dropping everything you’ve already put so much time and effort into bringing to life is almost unbearable, no matter how realistic it might actually be.

Part of the writing process is about both personal and professional growth. Sometimes, that means we’re not the same person we were when we started writing our novel by the time we’re nearing its end. In some cases, this can be a good thing. But in others, it means continuing to pursue a story we’re all but grown out of becomes more of a chore than a pleasurable challenge.

I think we fall in and out of love with stories the way we fall in and out of love with certain people, with hobbies, with subjects in school, with careers. What’s exciting to us one minute seems tiresome and repetitive the next. I watch myself struggling through even a few paragraphs of a book I know I may never look at again once it’s finished, and I’m tempted to walk away. In fact, it might make more sense, productivity-wise, to do just that.

Yet I haven’t, and I probably won’t. Because I’m stubborn and refuse to leave things unfinished. Maybe you’re the same way. Maybe abandoning projects would just make you feel unaccomplished and sad.

It’s important to remember that an unfinished story isn’t a failure. Sometimes we take a leap of faith and try something different, and it turns out it’s not really what we want to keep putting our time and effort into after all. It happens. After all, no writing time is wasted time. There’s something to learn from everything we start, even if we never finish.

What keeps me on the fence are my characters. I love them as much as I love the real people in my life, and I don’t want to leave them behind without finishing their story. In my mind, they deserve that. Maybe for you, your hesitation comes from your readers. What will happen to them if you stop posting? How can you just sit there and say you’re walking away with no better reason than, “My heart’s just not in it anymore?”

I fell in love with a story once. That was two years ago now. I still haven’t finished writing it. And yes, there will always remain a place for that story in my heart and in my life. If I don’t end up finishing it, it’s not because I don’t care. Unfortunately, sometimes the business side of writing has to come before the creative side. If I know my time will be better spent on an idea I can run with now, making the tough decision to close the book might be the best choice — even though it hurts.

A small part of you will always love that character, that audience, that thing you’ve worked so hard to build. But if it’s time to move on, if it’s the best thing for you, life will go on. In your imagination, you know how the story ends. You know what your plans were, even if the rest of the world doesn’t. This is not an easy thing to do — leaving something precious behind. But you’ll get busy again, and you’ll fall in love again, and it won’t hurt so much in a little while. You might even be able to accept you did what you were supposed to do. You put yourself, your happiness, your future first. That’s not so bad, in the end.


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.


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Write First, Earn Later

How important is making money in the beginning of your writing career?

I casually follow a number of “writing as a business” groups on Facebook. These groups can be great for meeting people, sharing ideas, and helping newcomers out with innocent questions/concerns. But sometimes my news feed gets clogged with multiple versions of a query, within days of each other, that goes something like this:

“I’m about to/I just started a blog, and I want to know how to monetize. Please help.”

A valid question, sure. We all want to know how people earn a decent income blogging full-time.

But there’s something that really bothers me about these kinds of questions. Because while I get that you might want to make a career out of writing ASAP, I think you have things a little backwards.

Writing comes first. Good writing. Money is only a possible, never guaranteed, side effect.

I don’t know of a writer who became financially successful without a solid foundation and years of content to raise them up to that level. Money is important — we all need it to some degree to survive. But when you focus on money first, and writing second, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Yes, setting up a blog in the beginning does sometimes require that you know how advertising and affiliate slots are going to fit into your structure. I get that. I get that a good business strategy includes plans for future monetization of your products (blog posts). But I wish more commenters would point to the most important aspect of monetization, which is making sure your content is good and plentiful enough for monetization to actually work — often even before you start trying to monetize.

I prefer a “write first, earn later” approach to writing. It’s how I built the necessary foundation for enough freelance writing clients to keep me afloat for 14 months when I couldn’t get any other job. It’s why I spent three years as a writing intern, publishing hundreds of articles, none of which I got paid for. Because exposure comes first. Without it, how do you know you’re writing well enough for the right audience to have earned the right to get paid for your effort?

My many years of blogging and writing for free have more than paid off in the past six months alone. It’s because of my writing internship that I decided to get a master’s degree; it’s because of my master’s degree, and many months of freelancing, that I got a full-time writing job. I still don’t earn a cent from this blog, and most days, I don’t even mind that much. Because putting you first — my readers — is what drives me to create good content for you. Not the money. Money pays the bills, but it does not get you loyal followers, who appreciate and respect you almost as much as you do them.

People who ask questions in Facebook groups are dedicated to their work, their profession, their earnings. Just because someone asks about monetization doesn’t mean they aren’t more concerned about their content; it’s just one question. But please always remember that it’s what you have to say, the wisdom you have to share with your readers, that makes you a successful writer. Not how much you earn in a year. Believe me, I fully appreciate being able to afford to pre-order John Green’s upcoming novel the second he announces it, but I don’t write to get rich. And neither should you.

And if it ever does happen to you, well, that’s just a pretty sweet bonus. You’re allowed to be proud of that. Just don’t make it a bigger priority than making sure your readers are taken care of. They’re the ones who are going to stick with you through it all, whether you’re flat-out broke or quite the opposite.


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.


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A Case for ‘Required Reading’ As An Adult

Why don’t more adults read?

Can you recite, off the top of your head, the title of the last book you read? Can you estimate how many books you’ve read in the past month — in the past year?

In my opinion, there are too many people who never pick up (or, sigh, download) another book the moment they don’t have to, if they ever even did their required reading in school at all. I don’t believe there are people who “just aren’t readers.” If you don’t like to read, that’s fine, I’m not going to force you. But there is a subject matter, a format (novel? Audiobook? Comic?), a style of writing, an author, an optimal word length, for everyone. You can choose not to read — but if you do, there’s something for you. And you should do all you can to find it.

Why don’t more people read? I ask this question because I’m curious, not because I’m judging anyone who doesn’t. I just wonder if our lives are just way more cluttered with other stuff than they used to be — even though sitting in front of a screen and watching shows, for example, is nothing new.

I’m not going to sit here and say Netflix and YouTube have ruined reading forever, because I spend more hours per week than I’m proud to admit on both of those platforms, and I’m still on book 30 of 50 this year.

There are people who prefer videos and BuzzFeed articles and podcasts to reading, but there are also plenty of people who prefer to diversify their entertainment, or edutainment, depending on the types of books you tend to read. I love streaming TV, but I do get tired of sitting there staring at a screen — I like mixing things up and staring at a physical page full of words for awhile.

So it’s not that we need to stop streaming and replace it with reading. No — we just need to do a better job of balancing watching, listening, reading, playing, and doing.

Maybe we just don’t know what to read, where to look for recommendations, whether or not we’ll like something before we dive into it. I hope that doesn’t stop people from exploring the wondrous world of books! There are so many! Which is probably the issue!

You already know how to read, but there’s so much more to gain from doing more of it on your own time. It forces you to focus — something I’m guessing many adults struggle with today (I do!). You get to use your imagination, picture how things might look and sound, something you don’t get to do when you’re watching a movie. Reading can also make you feel good — it’s a healthy kind of distraction, stress reliever, and when all else fails, go-to BFF.

If you do want to start reading more — even if only to inspire yourself to write more — or you want to encourage someone you know to do the same, start with the books from high school English class. They’re better than you think. In fact, reading them now, having already been exposed to them once before, makes for an even better reading experience.

Everything you had to read for a grade in school, you should read again at some point. I never finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird my freshman year of high school, but I have since read it cover to cover at least five times. A book you read (or were supposed to read) for a grade is much more valuable if you read it at least once for the assignment, and at least a second time on your own.

I’m more aware of my surroundings, I’m exposed to different cultures and religions, I can explore and try to understand ways of thinking that are different than mine — all because I read. If the social internet has taught us anything, it’s that more people need harsh, relatable exposure to all of these things and more. Books can do that. Any kind of story, whether you’re physically holding a book in your hand or not, can.

I think people should read more of what they want to read, because they want to read. I mean, 50 Shades isn’t necessarily what I’d choose, but maybe those kinds of things could be someone’s gateway drug to more … in-depth and insightful literature. You never know until you try. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Read more. Talk about books more. It just makes us all better people, and maybe happier, too.


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.


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Separating Feelings From Facts

Are you too quick to let your emotions cloud your facts?

I write about health. Sometimes that means I get to fill internet space with food puns and fun facts about the history of Tater Tots or whatever. Sometimes I also write about things that are difficult to swallow — like a current piece I’m working on about adults with autism (who, real talk, have it way worse off than most of us, in a dozen different ways).

Writing experts will tell you different things when discussing how to deal with the tough stuff. Especially when you’re reporting on facts (no opinions allowed), you’re either told to keep your emotions out of it or use them to write a really kick-butt story.

In college, I had to learn to tone down my enthusiasm when writing about campus life (which I loved). So I’d write a few paragraphs in a Google Doc about how cool Event X was, and then I’d switch over to my Word document and write a much more concise, yet still interesting and informative, review.

The more you’re able to keep your feelings and your work separate, the better your work will be. Passion can drive productivity without influencing the products directly. Unfortunately, I see a lot of stuff published online that doesn’t do a great job of this. When you put your opinions and feelings first, facts are misinterpreted, exaggerated, or forgotten completely. That doesn’t help this misinformation epidemic we seem to be experiencing, especially in the science community. You’re allowed to have an opinion. But there’s a space for editorial writing, and there’s a space for letting the facts speak for you.

Here’s what I suggest. When you’re writing about something you have an emotional connection to, first focus on the facts. Forget what you already know, at least for now. Learn everything there is to learn. Sometimes, you end up gathering more background information than you’ll need, which doesn’t hurt.

Then, you can take those facts, string them together into an informative steam of paragraphs, and let your emotions influence you to write a really great, accurate thing in place of something that strays from the truth just so you can get your personal point across.

And then you can be as emotional about those facts you’ve just learned as you want. Because in many cases, your job as a writer is to help other people decide how they want to feel — not force your own feelings onto someone else.

Something strange happens when you’re a journalist who also happens to like writing fiction. You get all these random ideas for books, and short stories, and TV shows. You may not be an actual expert on a particular subject, but working on an assignment for even a few days, by the end, it sure feels like it. And when you’re writing fiction, you don’t have to keep your opinions and/or feelings to yourself. You get to dump them ALL OVER those pages.

It’s refreshing, it’s fun, and it just makes you realize how all the writing you do from day to day fits together like puzzle pieces, no matter how unrelated one job might be from another.

Emotionally-driven writing has its place. But sometimes, your voice is going to have much more of an influence if you focus on facts first, leaving your feelings tucked between the lines.


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.


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The Real Reason People Doubt They Can Make Writing a Career

I heard “You’re going to be such a great writer!” so much that I almost decided not to be one.

Many people sit back in their desk chairs at some point and think, “Wow. I might not actually want to be a writer after all.” Even if they’ve studied it, pursued it — succeeded in it. There’s just a sense of doubt that comes along at some point and makes us question everything.

And I think it’s one of the best things that can happen to you.

I write professionally now, but there was a point in my life when I would have gladly done ANYTHING ELSE if it meant I never had to write something out of necessity ever again.

It’s that segment of my life that changed my attitude toward writing for the better.

Starting in middle school, people began complimenting my writing skills. Very cool for a 12-year-old desperately trying to impress both her peers and teachers. But as I entered high school, and started meeting with guidance counselors and registering for writing classes, those nice compliments turned into nonstop … assumptions.

“You’re going to be a great writer! A career in writing is perfect for you! The world needs good writers like you.”

On. And on. And on.

Of course, always a people-pleaser, I went along with it. Until I got to college, where dozens of opportunities to learn a variety of subjects and join clubs that had nothing to do with my English major made me realize that writing wasn’t all I could, or even wanted, to do. I’d barely ever explored any other options. Growing up, people just talked to me about a career in writing, and I assumed that was all I could and would ever do.

So for awhile, the idea of writing all day every day for the rest of my life was far less than appealing. I took literature and psychology and nutrition classes, I spent time performing in music groups and taking voice lessons — I made it a point to try a little bit of everything else. Because at that point, I finally realized I had more than enough power over my life to decide what I wanted to do. And if I didn’t end up settling for a writing career, well, that was fine with me.

How I ended up as a writer anyway is kind of a long and rage-inducing story, so I won’t bother you with the details. But the important thing is, I eventually ended up choosing my career in writing. No one forced it upon me. No one expected me to settle. I actively made the choice, independently of anyone else’s suggestions or opinions. And that made me feel good. It made writing fun, and worthwhile, for me again. It still is.

Growing up, everyone was just trying to be encouraging. I get that — I’m grateful for that. It just took standing in front of a few different crossroads for me to realize that whether I chose a career in writing or something else, my happiness was more important than making someone else proud.

It’s healthy to doubt your desires. When you spend so much time writing, sometimes you do miss out on other things. It’s OK to try something new, to consider a career that doesn’t involve a ton of writing, even just so you can go home at night and have brain power left over to write to your heart’s content. Sometimes we doubt our ability to do something because no one has ever told us we don’t have to. We start to wonder, “What if I did this instead?”

If you go your whole life wondering that, but never trying it, you’re going to be miserable. You might try something new and realize you like writing after all. You might fall in love with something else, and decide to leave writing as an occasional side project. This doesn’t make you any less of a writer, or lazy, or a failure. If writing isn’t all you want to do, you don’t have to sit around feeling trapped and angry. Be a Human Venn Diagram. Do more than one thing. You are not one title, one profession, one skill set. Work hard, but have fun. Don’t smother the urge to try something different.

It’s your time, it’s your life. You can choose how you spend it.


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.


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Things to Consider Before Starting A Second Blog

Are you really ready for this?

Some people find they love blogging so much that they want to do more of it. And sometimes, the urge to start and manage a second blog becomes too tempting to resist. That’s why many blogs fail — because people aren’t prepared for them. You’d think, already having one blog, you’d know better. But we’re writers, we’re not perfect — sometimes we make bad decisions that can hurt one or both of your blogs.

In this post, I’ll mostly be talking about starting a second blog on top of one you plan to continue keeping up with — not starting another blog to replace one you’re leaving behind. Most people assume they can keep up with more than one blog simultaneously, underestimating the amount of work that goes into each — causing both to fall apart. I don’t want that to happen to you. So here’s what you should think about before adding more blogging responsibilities onto your plate.

What’s the real reason you want to do this?

Are you starting a second blog because you’re bored with the first one — or because you’re bored in general? Because you need a place to dump your thoughts? To snag a domain name while it’s available? Because it just sounds like a good idea? Your main priority, in considering any blog, should be how it can serve an audience. Sure, there’s probably something in it for you, too. But if it’s not something that will interest, assist, or inform someone else, you’re not doing a great job of building a solid foundation for a blog you want to grow and develop over a span of years. A blog is a big commitment. If you’re serious about a second, ask yourself why you really want to do it.

Are you willing/able to dedicate enough time to your new blog?

A blog takes more effort in the beginning, though it might seem otherwise. You’re ideally supposed to prepare posts ahead of time to give your archives a boost before an official launch. You typically need to do more promotion and outreach to attract first-time audience members. You’re not quite as free to make mistakes or fail to keep promises. In other words, it’s going to take a lot — a LOT — more time than the blog you likely already have, whether it’s small or a bit larger in size. Are you prepared and willing to put in the time and effort necessary to grow a new blog, on top of the work you’re already putting into the first one? If not — and be honest with yourself here — you might want to hold off, or decide against the idea altogether, at least for now.

Do you have a consistent schedule gap that needs filling?

If you’re anything like me, you start looking to fill scheduling gaps as soon as they appear. This approach won’t work if you don’t have a consistent schedule in place already. I held off on the urge to start a second blog earlier this year because my freelancing schedule became too unpredictable. You don’t want to commit to something one week and then realize three weeks later you no longer have room to fit it in. Scheduling, as a blogger, is everything. One of the easiest ways a second blog can fail is if you’re unsure whether or not you can keep up with it over the coming weeks, months, and years. Just because you can’t do it now, doesn’t mean you can’t in the future.

Could you afford to hire someone to help you?

Sometimes, multiple blogs are more than possible — with help. But do NOT expect to find someone who will help manage one or multiple of your blogs without offering something in return. If you can’t afford to pay someone, at least offer them control over half of your posting schedule (ideally with credit, not ghostwritten) in exchange for helping you moderate comments, source photos, keep up with social media accounts — if you both agree that’s a fair deal. Understand that often, growing a business, even a blog, means dedicating some of your income and/or resources to hiring people who will help you make the best use of your time. If you can’t, or aren’t willing to do that, maybe stick to just one blog until that status changes.


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.


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Everything That Will Tempt You to Quit Writing — and How to Deal With It

Don’t quit.

Pursuing a career in writing comes with plenty of obstacles. Overcoming those obstacles — especially when your barriers involve other people — can be overwhelming. The stress of trying to Make Writing Happen can be draining enough to force you to consider quitting. Even though you shouldn’t!

Here are a few things that will, or have already, almost convince you to stop writing — and how not to let them bring you down.

Feeling like no one cares

People don’t generally tend to go out of their way to read or comment on things unless it serves them — and that’s just something about writing that takes awhile to learn. It’s frustrating when people don’t leave comments, or only do so to say unhelpful or unnecessary things. It’s lonely when not even your friends or family seems to show an appropriate level of enthusiasm for your work.

Always remember that just because you’re not seeing a response doesn’t mean people aren’t watching you. Honestly, if you publish your thoughts and ideas as if the whole world is listening — even if they aren’t — that radiates a kind of implied confidence that draws people to your work. It’s weird, but it happens. You don’t have to be snobby about it, but you can at least feign the level of confidence you’ll eventually develop.

Negative reviews/criticism

On every writing-related evaluation you’ll ever get — whether that’s a book review or performance check-in or a comment on your blog — much of how you’re perceived as a writer has to do with how you respond to criticism. Only once in my life have I walked away angry from a document covered in notes (of the worrisome variety), and I still mostly regret that. You can’t get mad just because someone doesn’t have all nice things to say about your work. It’s just not how the editorial process flows.

The biggest problem here is that most people don’t know how to give proper feedback. Negative feedback needs to be constructive, equal parts “fix this” and “I liked this.” People tend to forget the latter, and even if they don’t mean for it to (many don’t!), their criticism comes off as extremely harsh. Don’t take negative comments seriously, unless they’re a healthy balance of praise and suggestions for future improvement.

People who say achieving a writing dream is impossible

Weirdly, this has never happened to me, but I’ve heard plenty of stories from people who have been told not to pursue writing as a career. Writing isn’t exactly a glorified vocational path, at least not in the way medicine or law might be (and you’re definitely not going to get a similar paycheck, ever), but people really shouldn’t say to your face you can’t be a writer. It’s just not nice. I’m sorry if that’s ever happened to you. If it helps, I think you can do it. And you should at least try.

You can be a writer without being the stereotypical coffee shop-dwelling, caffeine-addicted ever-aspiring novelist. You can write about anything, pretty much in any setting. Hospitals hire writers. So do museums and nonprofits and banks. Writing is a versatile skill set — if you like doing it, somehow, some way, there’s a place for you in the real world. You just have to try a few dozen different things until you find it.

Rejection, in the worst way possible

Most writers agree: the worst kind of rejection is silence. It’s better to get a definite ‘no’ than to hear nothing at all. Waiting for a response is a thousand times worse than dealing with being told your story isn’t the right fit. A brief yet steady flow of submissions is bound to come with an agonizing stream of silence, but at least you’re trying.

Don’t give up just because you haven’t heard back, whether it’s a query letter or an introduction to an editor or a writing job. If they can’t bother to give you a response, they’re not worth it. Move on, but keep trying. What’s meant to happen will happen, eventually.


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.


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When Your Blog Can’t Be Your First, Or Only, Priority

Do the best you can, until you can do better.

We all enthusiastically launch our blogs promising ourselves we’re going to give it all we have, every day, every week or month, until … forever? There’s no end date to a dream. But while bloggers fade into oblivion for many reasons, many of them fail to commit because they underestimate how much time and effort it takes to run a decent site.

But what if you’re not a quitter? What if you want to continue blogging, you have no intention of stopping … but suddenly, there’s just too much going on? How do you make posting things on the internet a priority, when it’s not your only priority?

Do you shake your head, log out, forget about it?

Do you continue dedicating the majority of your time to your blog, and let everything else fall apart?

Let me tell you how I’ve made it work. Because I went from attempting to blog full-time to dedicating a very small amount of time to it each week, and I’m still going strong.

Shortly after I re-launched my blog in 2015, my temporary full-time job came to an end. Let’s just say I had a lot of free time on my hands in the six months that followed. I started blogging every day. I was eventually able to start reaching out to other bloggers about guest posting, in addition to consistently commenting on as many bloggers’ posts as I could (and responding to the comments on my own).

I tried a lot of things during that time. A video series, a podcast. In 2016, I tried selling an ebook, and raising money for charity through writing.

Once I started working full-time again — as a writer, which meant blogging now added to the amount of words I’d already type daily — I quickly realized my blogging time was limited. Which scared me. Because I had GOALS! I’m the overachiever who posts something new every day of the week. Blogging daily helped build up the foundation of content that has quadrupled my subscriber count in the past two years. Plus, I knew that if I stopped, I might not start again, which was also a dark and terrifying thought.

So I stopped the podcast, the books, I let the video ideas collect in a virtually untouched corner of my brain — I realized I only had time for so much, and it was either use it wisely, or let my blog go dark.

Once I started focusing on growth, and providing the best daily content possible, blogging became fun again. I still have goals for growth, and I have a Patreon page in case any of my followers are interested in helping me fund future projects. But this year, I knew I couldn’t make blogging my main priority. It’s one of many. And the seven or so hours I spend on Novelty each week are some of the most rewarding.

Blogging full-time is hard. That’s not to say you can’t do it, but you also have to be realistic. If you try to do too much, nothing you do will be as good as you could make it otherwise. Your blog isn’t going to suffer if you can’t post every day, if you don’t have an email list, if your posts are 500 words instead of 2,000. Your followers want good content. How much or how little you’re able to give doesn’t matter as much as the quality of your work.

If you really care about your blog — and more importantly, your audience — you’ll find a way to make it work. It may not be your only job or responsibility, but it’s still important. There may come a point when your blog can take up more of the pie chart that is your busy life. For now, make it a daily/weekly/monthly task — even if it doesn’t take up the majority of your time.

Do the best you can — but make sure it really is the best you can do, and nothing less.


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.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.

Join now.