12 Things to Do If You Absolutely Hate What You Just Wrote

Do not fear! You’re just getting started.

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1. First: Remember that we’ve all been there. This is normal. Take a deep breath.

2. Say it out loud: You are not a bad writer. You just wrote a bad thing.

3. Or maybe it’s not bad. Maybe it’s just not what you planned, and you’re still getting used to it.

4. Try not to get discouraged. Most writers aren’t happy with their first attempts at anything.

5. Don’t get backspace-happy. You don’t want to get rid of something in haste and regret it later.

6. Let it sit for a day or two. See how you feel when you come back to it.

7. If you still can’t stand it — DON’T DELETE IT! Try rewriting it or just move on.

8. Save what you wrote, even if you’re not a fan. For reflection purposes or … something else. Who knows?

9. Really look closely at it. What about it don’t you like? Can you do better a second time around?

10. Learn from your bad writing. You can only go up from here. Sort of.

11. Be honest: Is it bad because it’s bad, or bad because it’s not “published, copyedited, perfected” good?

12. Keep writing. The only way to improve is to continue on, no matter how rough the road.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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

The Biggest Change That Must Happen When You Become a ‘Serious’ Writer

If you’re not doing this, you’re setting yourself up to fail.

The evolution that occurs throughout a writer’s journey has always fascinated me. It’s the reason I started documenting my thoughts and experiences related to writing way back in 2009. Because it’s so hard to track improvement or progression as a writer, I wanted to be able to look back and say, “Yep, I really have grown.”

I think the biggest difference between the writer me of 10 years ago and the writer I am today is how I approach each writing project.

There are two types of writers in general: those who write primarily for the necessity and/or enjoyment of it, and those who are actively pursuing a writing career.

One isn’t “better than” the other. If you write, you’re a writer. If you don’t, you aren’t. But there are people who just write because they need to release their creative energy in a constructive way, love telling stories, or need something to do in their free time.

There are also those who don’t just dream of being a writer “for real”: They’re trying to make it happen. Like, right here, right now.

Unfortunately, many of these writers never get past the “trying to make writing happen” stage. And that’s because they’re missing one key “ingredient” of writing success.

When you actively make the decision to transition from a casual relationship with writing to a much more serious one, you almost immediately start treating the majority of your writing as work. Or, at least, you SHOULD.

This means that even if you’re not officially getting paid (yet), you have yet to sign any kind of contract and you’re still just on your own trying to get better at this whole writing thing, you’re treating it like a job. You put set “writing hours” in place, you create your own deadlines, you still write out of necessity, but now you do it with the expectation that it will — quite literally — pay off sooner rather than later.

For this switch to happen, you have to MAKE it happen. You can’t continue down the same old path of “I’ll write when I feel inspired” and “hopefully I’ll get some writing done this weekend.” Writing must become part of your routine. A future money-making staple in your life — not necessarily daily, but often enough that progress is actually being made from week to week.

Many people struggle with this reality because they’re afraid they won’t enjoy writing once it becomes their job — officially or unofficially. I always offer the same piece of advice here: Always have at least one “just for fun” project. Because there are going to be moments the work is tiring and you don’t want to do it. But keeping those creative muscles exercising, so to speak, is absolutely essential to your future writing success.

Write for others. But also write for yourself. This gives you the chance to write stress-free, experiment, and really get to know yourself as a writer.

Writing won’t always be fun. Work has fun parts and parts you’re going to dread. But when it comes down to it, writing is a business. If you want to pursue a career in this field, you’re going to have to take on not just the parts of writing you love, but also the parts you don’t love so much.

It is a balancing act. Even I still struggle with it. Sometimes I work too hard and neglect the fun. Sometimes I neglect my work and have a little too much fun. Writing, however, is a mix of work and play, frustration and enjoyment, disappointment and triumph. It’s the writers who can navigate those peaks and valleys that find success at the end of the road.

Treat your writing like it’s your job, and I can guarantee, at the very least, you’ll improve. If you work hard enough, someone will agree to pay you good money to continue doing it. And if you’re lucky, your wildest dreams might actually come true.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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

I Couldn’t Finish My ‘Romance Novel’ Until I Fell In Love for Real

Experience. It matters.

Love stories captivate me. They always have. I grew up in the ’90s, so Disney movies did a pretty good job of filling my head with images of what it was supposed to look like when two people fell for each other.

I am not a romance novelist. But as many stories do, mine always feature characters struggling to figure life out — which often means trying to figure out how to fit another person into their world.

For a long time, I had pretty low expectations for my own love life, and tried to give my characters as many satisfying endings as possible (IMO, the guy doesn’t always get the girl, and all that). I tried very hard not to let my own loneliness and discouragement get in the way of telling good stories.

I never realized the problem might have been the absence of a real-life love story. Not until it happened to me.

I’d been taking a break from my ‘romance’ novel for almost a full year when love rudely and unexpectedly disrupted my life in all the best ways possible. I’d set the book aside for reasons I couldn’t really figure out or justify. It was, at its heart, a love story — though a tragic one (because of course). Was it too sad? Or maybe I needed to take some time to think through how to make the characters more likable… or unlikeable, in some cases.

Those things were factors, sure. But I was also a mid 20-something who had never been in a serious long-term relationship trying to write a deeply emotional narrative about two people who weren’t sure if they could live without each other. Admittedly, I knew next to nothing about how that felt.

Then Life Happened, as it tends to do when you stop expecting it to. And when I found myself opening that document again, there was no doubt in my mind that I could do a much better job of telling that story now than I could have before.

Funny how things sometimes just … work out.

Experience is the best writing prompt you will ever come across. It is also the best writing coach, the best motivator, and the only way to learn how to tell believable, emotionally driven stories.

Before I’d figured out what it really meant to love another person, my story was still believable. It still made sense. But up until that point, I’d always felt there was something missing. It turns out what was missing was the real, raw emotion I needed to put behind the story’s ending — something I couldn’t do before.

I think the strangest part about writing is how much your stories change as you do. Maybe not in style or by topic, but most certainly in depth. I’ve always adored love stories. The difference between the ones I wrote when I was 16 and the one I’m writing at 26 is that I get it now. I “get it” in a way 16-year-old me didn’t even know she needed to, or ever could.

This isn’t to say you couldn’t write a love story if you’ve never been in a serious relationship or a sad story if you’ve never felt loss. But I think there are many different kinds of love and loss and friendship and betrayal and grief. I think to some degree we’ve all loved and hurt and healed and grown up.

I just didn’t know how much I didn’t know until I knew. You know?

You cannot connect with a reader without real-life experience. Whether you get that through casual living or through research or spending time with people who have “been there,” it’s an essential part of the process. I mean, don’t go looking for a partner so you can write a better book. That’s probably not the right way to approach it. Just … make sure you let life Happen for you, and use what you learn to be a better storyteller.

But also, enjoy your experiences. Not just so you have something to write about, but so you can one day say you lived many lives — the real one, and the ones of all your characters.

If I’ve learned anything recently, it’s that you can write a million stories. But it’s your own story that will mean the most to you down the road. Don’t fear living. Fear not having lived. Take chances. And risks. Say “yes” more often. Stop fearing failure. It may not work out. But it may also change your life forever.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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

All Stories Must Fall Apart

Just let it burn.

I thought I knew exactly how the book was going to end.

If you’ve ever tried to write a novel or short story, you probably already know what happened next.

It turned out that I did not, in fact, know how the book was going to end. Because the ending I tried just didn’t work. It fell flat. It wasn’t just that I hated it. It simply did not belong in this book.

This, of course, snet me down a long and agonizing path full of worry and doubt. Was I really the right person to write this story? If I couldn’t figure out how to end it, was it even worth finishing?

Things got worse. Scrolling through the almost 70,000 words I had written, I began to notice things. Bad things. Things that I’d written that just weren’t good, or didn’t seem like they fit.

Suddenly I realized I had fallen from a very high point of confidence to the lowest valley of doubt I’d ever been trapped in. My whole book now seemed pointless and terrible, and I wasn’t feeling much better.

I stayed in that dark place for a long time, wanting so desperately for my story to work so I could tell it, constantly coming up against roadblocks and feeling like I was failing before I’d even finished the first draft of the book.

Eventually, somehow, I figured it out. Something just clicked. After months of reading and rereading parts of the story, outlining, and letting my mind wander over all the possibilities, I finally figured it all out. The story came back together. I stopped doubting it, and myself. Well. Mostly.

My story went completely off the rails. But that’s the only reason it was able to get back on track at all.

It’s often said that things have to fall apart sometimes in order for them to come back together better and stronger than they were before. It’s happened to me. It’s likely happened to you. And the same concept, as so many seem to do, applies to storytelling.

Just when you think you have everything figured out, one loose end unravels the whole thing.

It doesn’t always result in you having to start over — that’s the extreme. But it sometimes does mean you have to take a step back and really think hard about where you started, where you’ve ended up, and where you (think) you might go from here.

In many cases, a story coming undone before your eyes is actually the best thing that will ever happen to you. Only when you’re forced to look more closely at something can you discover its greatest weaknesses, its hidden strengths, and how to fix it — if it’s fixable at all.

If we spent our careers as writers starting and finishing stories without ever struggling through them, well, we’d never really learn anything, would we? There is a reason the best way to improve your writing is by writing. You can’t figure out which parts of your story need redoing until they’re already written.

Mistakes are only fixable once you’ve already made them.

The best thing you will ever do for yourself as a writer is to let the things you’re working on completely descend into chaos. Don’t like where your main plot is going? Let it go somewhere else. Don’t know if adding a certain element will work? Add it in and see what happens. Aren’t sure if this random tangent you’ve suddenly found yourself riding will go anywhere? Take it as far as it will go. You never know.

The best part about writing a story is that you can quite literally do whatever you want without consequence. You could kill off a character, realize later you shouldn’t have done that, and undo the deed. The only thing that matters is that you took a chance, a risk, tried something — just to see if it would work.

Sometimes our stories melt into messes that need cleaning up. Sometimes those messes BECOME the masterpieces. You just don’t know what the best outcome is until it’s already happened.

Let all your stories go absolutely haywire.

Eventually — if you stick with them long enough — you’ll find yourself sitting in front of the best thing you personally have ever created.

That’s pretty cool. Writing is cool. Keep doing it, no matter how chaotic it may become.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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

‘I’ll Just Write On the Plane’ and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

Things don’t always go the way we plan.

I recently took a short weekend trip to visit my significant other. This trip involved two flights, which — as you know if you’ve flown recently — involves a lot of sitting and waiting.

I very much wanted to enjoy a stress-free, work-free Valentine’s Day weekend (wouldn’t you?). But the thought of not writing anything — with some pretty major writing goals hanging over my head — bothered me.

So I made myself a promise: Write at the airport. Write on the plane. That’s a decent amount of time without having to disrupt your mini vacation. You got this.

Yeah, I totally had it. Until I didn’t.

I’m a pretty nervous traveler, especially when making a trip alone. So instead of writing while waiting at my gate on the way there, I sat, anxiously scrolling through Twitter, checking the time every five minutes.

That’s fine, I decided. As long as I wrote while in the air.

Takeoff went smoothly, as the vast majority of them do. And as soon as we were up way too many thousand feet in the air, I grabbed my bag, pulled out my writing materials —

And proceeded to fall into a dead, non-interrupted sleep for the next two and a half hours.

Perfect.

Don’t worry — I enjoyed my weekend and only thought about writing (or the lack thereof) a few times. This was not a writing trip, and I didn’t feel guilty for leaving my fiction in my backpack.

But that return trip, I was going to knock out some serious wordage. I just knew it.

Oh wait, I’m still a nervous flyer. So I guess I’ll spend the next two hours sitting at my gate not writing, again. BUT THE PLANE!

WILL TAKE OFF IN THE MIDDLE OF A RAIN STORM!

ALMOST THREE HOURS OF TERRIFYING TURBULENCE!

WOOHOO!!!!

In summary: She did not write a single word that weekend. But did get back home without crying. Progress.

There are moments we’d give anything to keep our own productivity promises to ourselves, only to realize we’ve set the bar a little too high (again).

Just because we fall short of our own expectations does not mean we’ll repeat the same mistakes next time.

My advice? Plan ahead as much as you can. But don’t make yourself miserable with guilt if you for whatever reason can’t follow through with those plans. Life. Happens.

As writers, all we can do every day of the year is our best. We can try to plan ahead and make words happen. But if that seemingly simple task becomes difficult, or we can’t do it, we can’t just lie down and give up. We have to figure out a way to work around it. To create despite it.

No, I didn’t get any writing done like I planned. Was I a little disappointed in myself? Of course. But now I’m prepared for next time. Now I know that planning to write on a trip like this probably isn’t the best way to go about it. I might need to plan on doing more writing before leaving, or make up for lost time after.

I know that something different needs to happen, all because I “failed.” Failure really is an excellent teacher. Pay attention to its lessons. Do better next time.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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

A Random YouTube Video Accidentally Helped Me Complete the Plot of My Novel

You never know when inspiration might show up.

Everything was good. Until it wasn’t.

I had — as many others before me have — a pretty good idea for a book. I’d even started writing it. There were, however — as there often are — several problems with it even in its early stages of development.

  1. It didn’t have a title.
  2. I hadn’t figured out how to connect the two ongoing storylines in a way that made sense.

One of these issues was minor, the other pretty major. I hope you can guess which was which.

I personally believe people worry way too much about coming up with the “perfect” title before they’ve even finished/started their book. Some of the best book titles I’ve come up with came to me when I was almost finished writing the first draft. But that’s a pet peeve for another post.

As you can probably imagine, not really knowing how to form a coherent plot was a bit of a hurdle. Without giving anything away, I’ll tell you there are two things going on in this book: a husband and wife own an animal sanctuary that loses its funding, and one of them is dying.

I needed both of these things to be happening simultaneously. I didn’t know how to make it work. I’d write one scene, then another, and always felt like an important connection was missing each time I switched back and forth between the two stories.

And, you know … it’s kind of important that books make sense. To make them, like, publishable and all that.

One day, fed up with feeling like I had no idea how I was going to fix this problem (I had a working title that I hated, so I wasn’t too worried about that), I just stopped writing. I saved and closed out my document, I ate lunch, I moped around for a bit, and then I dragged myself back to my desk to write.

Except I ended up on YouTube instead somehow, watching videos, definitely not getting any writing done.

And then it happened.

Again, I’m not going to give away specifics because doing so would give away the plot twist (no, you won’t guess it based on what I’ve told you), and I’m too nice to do that to a potential future reader.

But I ended up stumbling upon a video completely unrelated to my book — or so I thought — that smacked me so hard in the face I had to watch it twice.

It was almost as if the universe had led me to this specific, seemingly random video to say, Hey! This is how you’re supposed to fix this! NOW GET OFF YOUTUBE AND WRITE GOSH DARN IT!

I did. Filled with the fire of unexpected inspiration, in less than an hour, I (sort of) fixed everything.

This video miraculously solved both of my problems simultaneously, despite what little importance the first held compared to the second. I now had a title that gave me chills — those chills you get when an idea just sort of works and everything falls into place around it and it’s better than you ever could have hoped it would be.

I was also able to write a single scene, toward the end of the book, that tied both parallel storylines together and collectively brought every scene before it underneath the thematic umbrella I hadn’t even realized I’d been seeking out for so long.

And all that occurred because I’d been watching YouTube videos instead of working on my book. Funny how creativity works that way sometimes.

They’re not lying when they say inspiration finds you when you’ve stopped looking for it. Or is that what they say about love? Anyway.

I stopped writing, left all my worries and frustrations behind, and did the best I could to relax and stop thinking about work, only to have an idea come crashing down on my head in the middle of a video about art. I certainly wasn’t going to complain, though. To this day, that scene is still my favorite one in that entire book despite the fact that it isn’t finished yet. And may never be. Who knows?

This doesn’t mean that I go straight to YouTube when I’m feeling stuck or discouraged, though. Writing is writing, and I tend to treat it like a job. Of course there will be days I can’t accomplish as much as I originally set out to, but I’m not going to give up at the first sign of trouble. I have work to do.

But still, you never know what you might discover when you stop looking for answers. This is the best part of creativity. Not realizing you’re going to stumble upon an amazing idea until it’s right in your face begging to be claimed.

Everyone gets stuck. Everyone starts to doubt themselves at some point, and wonder if what they’re doing right now will even be worth it in the future.

If you’re ever feeling like that, I’d encourage you to take a step back. Close your laptop, leave the room, and let your mind wander. Often, something as simple as walking into a different room or starting a completely unrelated activity can trigger a new creative possibility.

Ideas can’t really be explained. Most of the time they just appear unannounced and take over your thought space without asking permission. But as inconvenient as it so often is, it’s also magical. One second ago you had no idea where to take your story next, and now your head is so full of story your hands can’t write it all down fast enough.

But it’s the most rewarding when you least expect it. It’s like a gift. You technically did nothing to earn it, but it presented itself to you anyway and it’s yours to manipulate however you please. That is, until the idea decides it knows more than you about everything and you’re no longer in control of anything that happens to your characters, but hey, enjoy the freedom while it lasts.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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

Does Showing People What You Write Ever Stop Being Scary?

Maybe?

I was probably in middle school (fifth and sixth grade, about 10 and 11 years old) when I started worrying about what other people thought of me. This was completely normal for that really weird era of what they call Growing Up. We were all just wandering around trying to impress each other all day every day. I have no idea why.

Unfortunately, those insecurities bled into my writing life. I wouldn’t write my first “novel” until I got to high school, but way back then I was preoccupied almost to the point of obsession with writing song lyrics and poetry. I was in the very early stages of learning how to tell complex stories from beginning to end, but I preferred to fill notebook after notebook with rhymed lines. Probably about wanting to grow up already, or something very “middle school.”

I rarely, if ever, showed anyone those notebooks. I may have let my two closest friends peek at them from time to time, but I was extremely self-conscious about potential critiques. At some point I wrote a poem for a class project that ended up winning some kind of small-town award, and all I cared about was that no one made me read it out loud to the entire school. I might have actually DIED.

You’re probably not at all surprised to learn I (mostly) got over this refusal to put myself, and my work, out there. I would not call myself a confident 20-something by any means. I don’t “have it all together” and don’t expect to ever achieve that goal, whatever it actually means. But a piece of my writing shows up in people’s news feeds and email inboxes every single day of the year at this point. I’m not hiding my words from anyone. Why bother?

As much as I hate to admit it, age and maturity are definitely factors in this evolution. The older you get (ehhh), in general, the less you care about what other people think, or the less you let their opinions about you define who you are.

I tell you this because there has been a significant progression in my process — from write and hide to show and tell and shout “I WROTE A THING” in all caps whenever I’m uncharacteristically proud of something I’ve recently published. (Self-promotion is fine, but not in excess. Don’t be that person who only posts on social media about their accomplishments. Be a human, not a robot.)

But this does not mean that every writer can at some point learn to publish without fear. Sure, you might absolutely get used to the idea of people reading and judging your work and learn to tolerate it … maybe even embrace it. But I wouldn’t pivot to the other extreme and say you’ll ALWAYS feel good about everything you put out there.

There are some days I dread the moment a new blog post goes live because I’m not sure how people might react to it. There are days I write a few pages of my book and boldly dislike every single one of them. Sometimes I still think about sending out queries to agents and my stomach does this weird flip-flop thing because OH MY GOD THESE PEOPLE GET PAID TO READ STUFF WHAT IF MINE’S TERRIBLE?

It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been writing or how much experience in the field I might have. Sometimes, I’m still nervous and afraid when I shove my work out into the world and hope people look at it. Some people aren’t nice. I’m a human being, and I don’t like feeling bad about myself. No one does.

So how do I continue to publish continuous work anyway, despite all the excuses my brain might come up with to try convincing me I shouldn’t? I just take a deep breath and hit publish. I’m serious. Sometimes I hold my breath, hit that button, and let it out slowly. Because once I’ve done that, it’s out of my hands. It’s not my thing to hold hostage anymore. It’s part of the world now. The world is entitled to do with it whatever it pleases.

That might mean people praise it. Or rip it apart. It might mean no one really looks at it at all, or I lose a bunch of followers because the internet is weird and sometimes one thing you put out there that isn’t offensive in any way, shape, or form just makes people not want to see any of your stuff anymore until the end of time, I guess?

Does this cycle of write-publish-write-publish-write ever stop being terrifying? Some days. Some days I’m so excited about something I’ve written that I completely forget there’s a good possibility some people won’t like it and I can’t wait to read the comments.

Other days I wish I could just keep it all to myself and never have to hear another insensitive criticism ever again.

It’s really up to you to decide if you want the possibility of judgment or ridicule or rejection to control whether or not you send something out into the world. I don’t think that’s a good reason not to publish something when doing so has become so easy in the past few decades compared to the centuries before. But I’m not here to tell you what to do. You can do whatever you want.

Just remember that there are always going to be parts of the writing life and the writing process you don’t like. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t do the job.

Also, the more you do it, the more habitual it becomes. You might still worry from time to time, but it sort of just becomes your reality. You write things, you publish them, and people react (or don’t). Such is life. There will be positive experiences and negative ones. But there won’t be any at all if you sit back and do nothing.

Good luck with everything you’re publishing this week, this month, or this year. It’s a big scary world out there. But you’re braver than you think.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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

12 Reasons You’re Not Getting Any Better at This Whole Writing Thing

What does “better” even mean, anyway?

1. You have no personal definition of what “better” actually means for you.

2. You want an end result without having to do the amount or intensity of work required to get that result.

3. You’re not putting in the “practice” time.

4. You’re spending way too much time worrying about SEO and not enough leveling up your writing quality.

5. You’re focusing on quantity instead of quality.

6. You can’t get any work done because you’re obsessing over not doing it perfectly.

7. You’re not writing consistently. E.g., you write for a week, stop for six months, then wonder why you haven’t accomplished anything.

8. You’re not setting — and therefore not meeting — writing goals.

9. You keep saying, “I’m not good at writing!” but you never stop to think about how you could change that.

10. You’re worried about what to do with your finished product before you’ve even finished (or started) it.

11. You’re making excuses and/or blaming other people/things for your lack of accomplishments.

12. You actually are — it’s just hard to see gradual improvement over time. Hang in there. You’re doing fine.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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

How to Write Well Quickly: 7 Easy Steps

How to become an expert writer right now!

We live in a world where there never seems to be enough time. We are given ridiculous amounts of tasks to do and aren’t taught proper time management skills. Companies deliberately create distracting ads and other media that draw us away from our work. One minute we’re told to relax and have fun, and the next we’re looked down upon for not working harder.

Which all makes writing particularly difficult. It’s a task that requires deep concentration, uninterrupted blocks of time, and almost complete separation from the present tense. And every single other thing within our reach completely contradicts that lifestyle.

I pay a lot of attention to the questions people ask about writing. It is, in a sense, my job to answer these questions as someone who has been offering writing advice for over a decade.

One question in particular stands out to me: How do I write well, but fast?

We’re obsessed with this false belief that everything that takes time can and should be done more quickly. This applies to both skills and habits. I could get dressed and then head to the bathroom to brush my teeth, or I could save time and do both simultaneously.

I’m going to attempt to answer this question with the least amount of sarcasm as I can bear. Whether you want to develop and/or master the writing skill by next Tuesday or it’s taking you forever to write your novel and you want to know how to finish it next month, don’t worry. I’m here for you.

So how do you learn to write like an expert without putting in the time? How do you do the same amount of writing it takes you two hours to do in just 20 minutes? Here are the seven steps I recommend for anyone who’s just started writing and wants to achieve this feat.

How to write well super fast:

1. You can’t.

2. You can’t.

3. You can’t.

4. You can’t.

5. You can’t.

6. You can’t.

7. You can’t.

At least, not right away. Not right now.

There are two ways to look at this: either you are asking how to become a good writer in general without spending years developing your craft, or writing takes too much time and your lack of patience or focus is driving you to wonder what to do about that.

If you’re wondering how to write more without decreasing the quality of your writing, the answer is still time, dedication, practice, and patience. If you don’t want to put in the time, what’s the point?

You don’t lace up your sneakers without ever having run before and win a marathon.

You don’t pick up a violin having never played one before and perform a song without making a single mistake.

You don’t decide you want to become a bestselling author and write a good book on your first try.

It’s ridiculous to even imagine that a skill like writing can be learned quickly. Most writers develop their voice and style over decades, not days. What makes you so special that you think you’re able to do it any differently?

In all this, I’m not saying that you are incapable of becoming the expert writer you so desire to be or that you can’t get more done faster. I’m saying that if you don’t, early on, develop the patience

I understand that most people don’t feel they have enough time to write, and therefore want to know how to get their writing done faster while making it look like they spent more time on it. My response is that if you’re not willing to put in the time and effort required to produce good writing, you may not fit into the writing life.

Being a writer requires sacrifice. Whether you want to get all your work done so you can go watch TV, spend more time with your family, or earn more money by writing more, you pretty much have nothing to gain from trying to speed through the process of learning to write better or writing poorer quality work faster.

I suppose if you’ve spent over 10 years writing like I have, you might eventually learn to shut out distractions, stop procrastinating, and shamelessly put your thoughts onto paper without worrying about whether they’re good or not. But is googling how to write faster really the best way to spend your time, when you could instead be writing?

Reasons people write slowly:

  • They’re naturally slower writers and there’s nothing wrong with this
  • They don’t know how to or choose not to erase environmental distractions from their writing space
  • Have trouble concentrating and haven’t developed techniques to combat this
  • Want to be a writer but aren’t really interested in the actual writing part
  • Lack the self-confidence to write whatever comes to mind without fear of being judged
  • Would rather be doing other things, which I suppose is their choice.

Please, enlighten me. What’s the rush? Why do you need to write faster? Maybe you’re just overwhelmed and don’t want to give up on writing but don’t feel you can dedicate the necessary time to get it done. Maybe you’re a destructive procrastinator and you want to know how to write 20 articles in less than 24 hours.

In those cases, I say take a step back and re-evaluate your priorities. What are you really trying to accomplish here? Are you even enjoying your writing time? Maybe for you it’s just a job that pays the bills and you’re not trying to have fun. That’s fair. I just don’t want you to sprint headfirst into disappointment thinking this is something that’s easily achieved, because it isn’t.

I guess, good luck with your writing, whatever your goals are. Try not to worry so much about how long it’s taking you to figure things out or write a book or get a job. These things take time, and I think in the long run you’d much rather do good work that took you hours than do sort of okay work that took minutes.

The more years you spend writing, the better you get at getting those ideas out of your head and onto paper. I’m not saying it gets easier. There are just, usually, fewer barriers to entry. You know that when it’s time to write, it’s time to write, and you do it.

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Just because some writer you follow seems to crank out a book every month doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing. Follow your own path. You do you.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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

Read This Right Now If You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

Trust me. You won’t regret it.

All writers have dreams. It’s safe to say many of them — but certainly not all of them — want desperately to publish novels of their own creation. They grew up reading books, and WOW, wouldn’t it be SO COOL to hold a book you wrote in your own hands?

I, like many others, started writing books because of this desire. My ambitions have of course evolved and matured, and most days, I like to say I write because of the impact my words might have on other people.

But there are also those days I’m not sure if I’m even remotely reaching that goal. Like this morning, when halfway through my writing session, I stopped dead, took my hands off the keyboard, and realized that, technically, all the work I’d been doing for months on end could be considered pointless.

I actually sat back in my chair and said out loud, “Why am I even doing this? Does it even matter?!”

Because when I really thought about it, I realized I was spending at least 10 hours per week — if not more — working on a book that statistically has a very small chance of getting published. And even if it does get published, there’s even less probability it will sell well.

Would all that time ever be worth it?

I did quickly come to my senses, fix my posture, and continue writing despite my doubts and moment of uncertainty. The way I looked at it, I could either waste my time telling a story that made me feel good, or I could waste it wondering if I should keep wasting time telling a story that made me feel good.

If I’m going to waste time, I might as well waste it actually DOING something, right?

It’s extremely healthy and beneficial to experience moments like these — moments where you yank yourself out of the present and wonder if you’re doing the right thing. Moments that almost send you into a panic because you realize you don’t know if the project you’re working on right now will even lead to something worthwhile.

Do you ever feel like you have absolutely no clue what you’re even doing?

Good. Welcome to the writing life. Take a seat. Fasten your seatbelt. Hold on tight.

The truth is, no one who finds themselves in this mess knows what’s going on. The experts pretend, the veterans like to think they do, but none of us have a clue if we’re even on the right track.

It’s not a lack of confidence or that we’re not proud of our accomplishments or anything like that. As human beings, we’re often plagued with this desire to do something that matters — and we also habitually worry about silly things like whether or not people will remember us when we’re gone. (As John Green likes to say, everyone gets forgotten eventually. But that doesn’t stop us from trying to avoid the inevitable.)

Basically, it’s completely normal to feel this way. Even grown adults on the verge of retirement don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. The best thing you can do for yourself is everything that has a positive impact on your life and the lives of others. (I say ‘positive impact’ and not ‘makes you feel good’ because, like, drugs make you feel good (SO I’VE HEARD), but you probably shouldn’t do those.)

But just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s any less lonely or overwhelming. If you’re technically not going down any set path, is there even any point in moving forward at all?

Of course there is. But the good news is, we’re all stumbling down this unpredictable road at the same time. That means that at any point, if you’re ever feeling unsure, someone else probably is, too. You’re not the only one feeling lost, scared, frustrated, or on the outskirts of an existential crisis, either.

We’re all in this. We all understand. We’re all struggling. But we’re all also doing this for a reason.

Never forget your reason for wanting this. That’s the thing that’s going to carry you through all your doubts. Always keep your eyes on the thing you really want. It doesn’t matter if there’s a chance you’ll never get there. Why? Because you are going to learn and grow so much from this experience, whether it turns out in your favor or not.

That is what it means to be a writer. Accepting the journey no matter how it ends. Believing it could lead you into something amazing.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have it all figured out. What matters is that you’re trying, and doing the best you can, and that you’re not giving up simply because you’re unsure. Some of the best things happen when you take a shot you aren’t sure you can make. You just might make it — and your life just might change for the better because of it.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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