Have a Dream – But Do More Than Dream

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming.

“I’m a dreamer. I’m constantly daydreaming and plotting and scheming … if it just sounds like talk to some or pipe dreams to others, who cares? These dreams drive me, keep me motivated, and help me create.” – Casey Bowers, mercenary writer (Hustle Economy, p. 109)

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming.

It’s how all goals are born. First you dream of writing for a living, and then …

What? Oh, right. You make it happen.

Dreams are wishes – they won’t get you what they want. Not alone, anyway. But dreams do have special powers: motivational powers. Powers that inspire you and keep you focused. They help you write, even when some part of you is convinced it’s pointless.

Or they can. If you let them.

I don’t remember exactly when I realized how important writing was to me. I don’t think I “dreamed” of being a writer until I was in high school. That was when I was first told that I could actually do something practical with my words (whereas music up to that point had been a hobby I already knew I wasn’t fit to pursue a career in, even though I secretly dreamed I could).

If it weren’t for my freshman English teacher, who first encouraged me to take a creative writing class and suggested I start submitting my work to magazines, I’m not sure if my dream of being a writer would have ever gone to that next stage – from dream to goal. At some point it did. At some point, writing became the thing I wanted to do “when I grew up.”

There’s a reason you should never let go of a dream as soon as you create a goal, especially as a writer: making a career out of anything is work, and sometimes, work is exhausting. Too much work, without much reward, can leave you feeling discouraged and yeah, sometimes even tempt you to quit.

It’s my dream of writing all day, every day, that got me through the tough times that come along with deciding you want to pursue a creative profession. I’ve been through it all: working for free, working for unreasonably low pay, rejection because I demanded better pay, being micro-managed to a point where I had no choice but to quit (I can’t wait to tell that story someday) – a lot of the time, this is not fun.

But it’s not supposed to be. Work is work. That’s what dreams are for. THAT is the fun part.

In between two exhausting assignments, you’re allowed to daydream. You’re allowed to think, someday, I’m not going to have to put up with this anymore. If that’s what gives you strength, if that’s what gets you through the lowest rankings as a writer, than keep your dreams alive. Let your imagination run as far as it wants to run. You can’t get to where you want to be without work. But you also can’t work – not happily – if you don’t have a dream to keep you going.

“Making it” as a writer is some unspecified balance of active work and casual daydreaming. You know where you want to be. When things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped, you still have that dream to go back to. It may not be everything you’ve always wanted yet. But it will be. Don’t give up.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

WARNING: Do Not Do As I Do (Yet)

Advice from a person who writes a lot … telling you not to write a lot. Sort of.

I don’t always set the best example when it comes to my go-to piece of writing advice.

Here’s what I believe: You do not have to write 24/7 to become a successful writer.

Due to … I don’t know, things? … I’m writing 12 hours a day right now. I’m working a full-time writing job (oops, did I forget to tell you that? SURPRISE) on top of freelancing, on top of blogging, and hey, to fill in the empty spaces, I’m also trying to finish writing a gosh darn book.

Don’t do what I do. Don’t be like me. Because a beginner cannot, and should not, do this. A beginner should not spend half their day writing. Sounds crazy, right? Don’t you have to write in order to get better at writing?

Of course you do. But not constantly, all the time.

Let me explain.

It took a very long time for me to figure out how to install a “writing mode” in my brain – kind of like a switch I can turn on and off as needed. When I need to write – like now, for example – the switch flips on. I block everything else out. I see the very rough outline (or, let’s be honest, sometimes a blank page) in front of me, and before I know it, I’m writing.

But “writing mode” also works like a phone battery. If you spend the majority of the day in writing mode, by a certain point, you’re going to have to stop writing so it can recharge.

(Just imagine you have a very short phone charging cord and one outlet, very far away from whatever place you need to be in that’s not near the outlet.)

“Writing mode” wouldn’t matter if I drained the battery and then didn’t charge it. I work – a lot. It’s the hustle; it’s what I do. But at a certain point, I stop. I do other things. Read. Watch movies. Spend time with family, with friends. Anything and everything that does not involve writing.

I do this so that when it’s time to write again, I’m prepared. Charged and ready to go.

I’ve built up a lot of creative stamina, let’s call it. The more time I spend in writing mode, the more productive I am in that mode. I can get a lot done in a day. I don’t struggle with the things beginners struggle with because I’ve been doing this for … oh God … eight years, or whatever.

Please don’t sprint straight into your first month blogging, freelancing or whatever kind of writing you’re doing thinking you can write 12 hours a day and be fine. It’s a great idea in theory – think how far ahead you can get, compared to all the other new starters. But trust me – TRUST ME – you have to start small, and you have to go slow. You will get overwhelmed, you will get tired, you will burn out, and who knows … you might consider never trying to get back into writing again after that.

You might never get back into it at all.

Burnout is discouraging and it hurts. I don’t want you to come into this thinking that’s not going to happen to you if you push yourself too hard in the beginning. It will. It does. It’s why so many beginners never make it past that stage. They have it in their heads that if they go too far, they’ll be able to step back immediately and still come out ahead.

Hard work is necessary. Dedication is essential. Consistency is key. But you do not have to try to be a superwriter. We train years for this. We go to school, we get certifications, we do internships, we learn and grow slowly until we can handle this pressure. You might not be quite there yet.

But you’ll get there. Eventually.

What is the right balance? How do you work hard – but not too hard … just hard enough?

Look out for a new post on this topic later this week … wink, wink.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Writing. Friends. Fitness. Sleep. If You Can’t Do it All, You’re Still Missing Something.

Must you choose?

I hate that saying.

You know the one. “Work, social life, staying healthy. Pick two.” Or whatever variation you want to go with.

I hate it because it’s a lie. The whole concept is just ridiculous.

There are many successful people who are as mentally and physically healthy as they can be, with families they love, friends they connect with often, jobs they are good at, hobbies they enjoy …

And eating and exercise and sleep – those are part of many people’s routines. On top of everything else.

For writers, there seems to be this idea that you have to give up one or two important things for the sake of writing. I have never bought into that philosophy, because it legitimately angers me.

Because, you know, we all have the same amount of time in every day.

It’s what we do with it that matters.

There are going to be days, maybe even weeks, when you have to give up Netflix, or reading a good book, or whatever it is you do to completely decompress.

But I do not understand why people can’t make time for the most important things – the wellness-focused things. Work, plus family, and friends, exercise, having a good meal, making headway on that side project, sleeping a decent amount of hours.

Well, okay. I understand a few things about this. I have to acknowledge that it goes beyond time management. Sometimes you just have a lot going on, and you can only push yourself so far. I get that. I’ve lived that.

But I also understand that we sometimes use that as an excuse, even when we don’t mean to. It’s not that we absolutely can’t do everything we want to do. We fail to prioritize, sometimes. We choose to watch Netflix instead of write because … I don’t know. It’s a choice. We’re humans. We don’t always make the right choices.

You can start making the right choices, though, by paying more attention to time.

You say you don’t have time to work out. Yet a good workout, if done right, can take less than 30 minutes.

You say you don’t have time for friends. Yet coffee and catching up only has to last an hour at the most.

You have time for sleeping. You just spend that time doing other things.

And writing … writing can take as much or as little time as you want it to. Fifteen minutes of writing per day isn’t wasted time. And it’s sure better than not spending any time writing at all.

Technology makes us expert time-wasters. That’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes on Saturdays I spend a few hours watching YouTube videos. After I’ve done everything else I have to do, that is.

It’s when you watch YouTube videos in place of doing your work, or writing, or spending time with friends, that it becomes a case of bad time management.

“There’s not enough time for everything” just isn’t an excuse I can buy into. Because there are a lot of days in a week. You also don’t have to do every single thing you want to do, every single day. You can not write every day and still be a productive writer. You can not see your friends every day and still have good relationships with them.

I’m not going to get into the health stuff (here), because people don’t like it when you tell them there’s time for cooking and working out and meditating and whatever else, on top of all their other responsibilities. But the same goes for that.

I’m no stranger to busyness. I know it can feel like there’s too much to squeeze into a single week. Yet I make time for all these things and more on a weekly basis. Writing especially, on my own time. (Yes – I blog during my free time. It’s a good use of my time.)

How? I don’t know. I just focus on what’s most important to me, and make sure it gets done. And I fill in the gaps with fun things. Netflix and books and all that.

Let’s not waste time wasting time. Let’s make better use of the time we do have.


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.

Maybe There’s No “Right Way”

Be careful when taking advice from anywhere, whenever.

When I’m giving my audience writing advice, I’m very careful to repeat one key phrase, no matter how many times I’ve written it before:

“This is what worked for me.”

I do this because I never want someone reading about how I accomplished x to assume my way is the right way. It’s not. In fact, I’ve done, and still do, a lot of things wrong. Many of those things, I was told, were “right.” They were right – just not for me.

I want to let you in on a little secret many writers don’t know: there is no “right” way to do anything in this business. Not really.

Because you’re just one person. So is the person telling you what worked best for them.

What works for someone with a large audience probably won’t be effective for someone with a small audience. Those with small audiences might actually get more engagement than anyone else. What works in one niche probably won’t do as well in another.

Every writer’s circumstances are different. So how do you really know that what you’re doing, because someone else told you to, is the best way to do it?

You don’t.

I’ve found that the best way to figure out what works, especially with a small audience, is to first learn what absolutely does not work, ever. There are unwritten rules of writing online that just shouldn’t be broken (mainly in terms of etiquette – or netiquette, I guess).

But then, once you know what never works, you have to go by trial and error. There’s something that’s going to work for your blog, for promoting your writing on social media, for selling books – whatever it is you’re trying to do to “make it” or however you want to phrase it.

I’ve tried many things I was sure would work, but completely flopped.

I’ve tried things I figured wouldn’t go over well, but they ended up succeeding.

I only know – as much as I can at this point – what works for me and what doesn’t because I kept trying different things until some of them stuck.

Stop driving yourself crazy trying to do things “the right way.” You’re only going to be disappointed when the things authority figures promised you would work never work.

Do things the way you want. Then keep doing the things that work out in your favor, and stop doing the things that don’t.

Don’t like writing listicles? Don’t write listicles.

Don’t like making infographics? Don’t make them.

Want people to engage with your content on Facebook but not on your site? Disable comments.

Do whatever you want. Really. Because that’s how you figure out what the people in your audience respond well to and what they don’t. Stop worrying so much about what you’re doing right or wrong. It might seem like the answers are easy to come by, but they aren’t.

I had to learn this the hard way. So I’m sharing what I’ve learned with you now. Figure it out. Learn by doing. Don’t rely on someone else to steer you in the right direction, because no one knows you, your work, or your audience the way you do. This is on you to figure out. And I know that seems scary. Don’t think of it that way. Think of it as an adventure full of discovery, failure, and – eventually – success.


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.

There’s More to Writing Than Just Writing

So much more.

Writing is hard. A lot harder than many people think. But why? How hard can telling a story really be?

Hard.

There’s a reason writing is such a draining, yet rewarding process. Because when it comes down to it, you’re not just writing.

Oh, you do a lot of writing. Day after day after day.

Then you finish writing whatever it is you’re writing …

And that’s just the beginning.

Writing online is more of a long, strategic process than many people realize. First there’s the whole coming up with an idea, doing research, writing, editing chain of events we’re all familiar with. Then there’s photos. SEO. Social media promotion. Link building, expert outreach, responding to comments, commenting on other people’s work …

It goes on. And on. And it does not stop.

And the more you build up an online presence, the harder all of this becomes.

Not “hard” as in “I can’t do it.” Hard. Like, wow, this takes some actual effort. So anyone who thinks sitting here, writing and hitting publish is all we do all day — no. Just … no.

The deeper I dive into writing as a business — as a career — the more I want to communicate this reality to writers who are still figuring this whole thing out. It’s a LOT more work than you think it will be. It’s working late on a Friday to catch up on answering comments that have built up over the past week. Forcing yourself to write when you’re all burned out of ideas. Getting paid to do a lot of it, but nearly enough for the amount of hours you put in to create good things.

I’m not complaining. I love what I do. Even the free stuff.

But my heart breaks for anyone who comes into this thinking there’s an easy way to make it work. Because there isn’t. I joked last week about “instant success,” but in hindsight, it really wasn’t a joke. Content comes first — of COURSE it does. Everything after that … there’s just not one way to do it that’s going to be 100 percent effective for everyone. You have to learn by doing. You have to put in the hours upon hours of work to figure out what’s going to work for YOU.

A lot of people just haven’t been doing this long enough yet to have the stamina to stick with it. Many figure it out – but many just don’t make it that far. And as much as I wish there was more I could do to help, it’s hard. Just like everything else. I can say “just keep at it” over and over and over again (and I do). But it’s up to each individual person to make it happen for themselves, in the end.

It’s so much more than putting words on a screen. Working alone, as so many writers do, you don’t get to just hand your work off to someone else to take care of. It’s all on you. It’s all on us.

I believe anyone who truly wants to write full-time, who wants to make a career out of it, can do it. I really do. I want to see you succeed.

Just be prepared. Prepare to work harder than you ever have before. And when you feel like you couldn’t possibly be working and harder … you have to work even harder.

You can do it. That’s all I can say. You can. Whether or not you do – well, that’s up to you.


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.

Success is About the Chances You Take, Whether You Fail or Not

Don’t miss out.

FLASH.

This is what a chance looks like.

(I’m telling you because they’re hard to see.)

It looks like lighting – flash! – it’s there, and then it isn’t.

A chance is a moment like any other moment. Except this one burns a question into your heart: What if?

What if I do this, and it works? What if I don’t, and I regret it?

In an instant, you get that crazy excited feeling in your chest. Sometimes it stays. Sometimes it leaves.

But it happens. It’s easy to miss, so pay close attention.

A chance comes quickly. It’s an opportunity you didn’t ask for, one that showed up anyway. It won’t stay long, so hurry up. Decide. If you don’t reach out and grab it, it will already be gone

You’re afraid to take chances. We all are. Chances always go one of two ways: it works out in your favor, or it doesn’t. You succeed, or you fail. You win, or you lose. You try, or you don’t.

You take it, or you leave it.

I don’t like taking chances. They scare me. In my personal life, I don’t take many.

But as a writer, I have taken countless chances. It’s necessary. Do you know why? Because hitting submit can never hurt you. Pressing publish is very rarely a mistake. True, there are many things that can ruin a writer’s career, whether they’re a long-time veteran or brand new to the game.

But do you know the one choice that has a 100 percent chance of making you fail? Never taking any chances at all.

I took a chance once. Should I start a blog? No one will read it, but, whatever. Eight years and counting.

I took another. Write for a newspaper? Sure, why not. I was on staff for almost three years.

Apply for a professional writing internship, even though I had very little professional writing experience. I worked for that magazine for nearly four years.

Again, and again, and again. Submit there, apply here, sometimes looking, often not.

Oh look, a real writing job. I’m qualified. I’m not looking, but – why not?

Student, blogger, intern, freelancer, staff writer. Chances, opportunities. Tried. Took. Succeeded.

I’ve failed many times, don’t get me wrong. Avoiding failure is inevitable, when you actively grasp at every chance you get to do something new. To shoot for something better.

All the failures have been worth it, though. The successes make the failures … count.

I don’t know you. But I know how scary chances are. They’re not subtle. They’re not polite. And they’re fast. There’s no time to ponder, to second-guess. To ask, what’s the point?

There’s only a moment. Decide. Take it, or don’t. Try, or don’t. Succeed, or don’t.

Look! Over there! A chance! A chance to do something, to change something, to write something, to be something. TO TRY.

Take it. Take it now. Don’t regret missing it.

Flash.


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.

Why I Haven’t Finished Writing a Book in Two Years

There’s a pretty good reason.

When I was a sophomore in college, I wrote over 100,000 words in two weeks.

I don’t know how I wrote an entire novel in 15 days. I don’t remember a single one of them. But it happened. I have a hardcopy draft to prove it.

That’s how I used to write fiction: fast, yet thorough. Some mysterious creative hyperdrive in my brain just kicked in, and I got some really cool stories out of it.

The past two Novembers, I have started writing books. I have yet to finish either of them.

I’m trying. I’m making very slow progress (but still progress!) on my novel from NaNoWriMo 2015. But we’re talking a few hundred words a day. I am, apparently, in no rush to finish.

Yet I can’t wait to finish, to be able to put it behind me. To never have to look at it again.

The reason I haven’t just given up on it is because, honestly, I finish what I start. It’s just what I do.

The reason I haven’t finished yet is a little more complicated.

When I wrote that novel in 15 days, even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was fast-approaching a major crossroads in my future career as a writer. You see, many people dream of publishing novels, of becoming best-selling authors. I did, at the time. I still do, every once in awhile.

Some people dream of a different kind of writing life – one that is, let’s be honest, easier. Not in the sense that it takes less work, of course. Journalism, or blogging, or being hired to write listicles. I spent many years of my life trying to convince myself I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to stick with the harder option. I had something to prove, I guess.

Then I realized my interest in health and my ability to arrange words nicely on a page were a match made to last. It took me about six years to turn that into a legitimate career, but I’ve done it, somehow.

As much as I don’t feel comfortable saying it … there’s just not as much time for writing fiction as there used to be.

I don’t have 15 days of empty space, during which I might write a novel about bees.

I would love to have more time. I just don’t.

I realized very recently that I no longer felt guilty for not spending as much time writing fiction as I used to. I’ve “made it,” as they say. I get up, I go to work, and I write. All day long. I come home. I write some blog posts, I write some articles, I slide into PJs and read and I am happy.

For someone who used to daydream about doing nothing but write novels for the rest of my life, this is strange. Knowing that publishing a book is no longer on my list of things to do before I turn 25.

It’s not that I’ll never write fiction again. I write fiction every day. I just spend minutes doing so, instead of hours. Writing stories is as essential for my wellbeing as breathing, and I mean that literally. My mental health depends upon transforming racing thoughts into some original burst of prose.

But I always dreamed of being a writer. I don’t care how I spend my hours writing, as long as I’m writing. As long as I’m doing what I’ve always known I was supposed to do.

It is freeing, to know there is no longer any pressure to finish a book.

It means I’m much more likely to actually do it.

I’m not making any promises. But I’ll keep at it. 100 words at a time.


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.

How Self-Care Fits into the Writing Success Equation

Relax.

“Enjoy your life … [I]f you are so anxious or unhappy that you have to put tape over the warning lights with psychotropic drugs just to function like a person, then freelancing might not be for you. Find some hobbies or something that will help manage your anxiety.” – Thomas Leveritt (Hustle Economy, pp. 101-102)

There are many ways to define success as a writer. Writing can be many things for many different people: a business; a hobby; a side job to pay for their book-buying addiction (slowly sinks lower in chair). Success, then, can also be measured by many different things: money; page views; sales.

To me, success as a writer has always meant a combination of a number of different factors. I wanted to make enough money to feel secure (plus enough extra for, you know, uh, BOOKS). I wanted to have an audience, maybe some followers on Twitter that weren’t bots.

I also wanted to show up to work feeling excited, and leave looking forward to the start of the next work day.

I know these are everyone’s dreams. Especially creatives, who sometimes work their whole lives to be able to say, in some capacity, they succeeded – and doing something they love, no less.

I never, ever thought I’d be sitting here, slowly but truly coming to the realization that I’m achieving everything I’ve always wanted to achieve. The best part? Anxiety not included.

Well. As much as I can exclude it.

Writing is one of very few things that don’t make me anxious. Such is life: I can deal. Anxiety can be tamed, never slain. But when you’re in the very early drowning stages of freelancing, it’s nearly impossible to work your tail off and not chew all your fingernails off at the same time. Especially when you write all day, then continue to write on your own time … forgetting that you’re not required to write in your free time anymore if you don’t want to. You’re off the hook.

Pretty much the only thing that got me through a year of freelancing were the hours I spent not writing.

I love to write – I would not keep doing this if I didn’t love it. But I realized this year that I’ve officially used up all my Get Out of Sleep Free cards. I cannot function anymore (read: cannot get out of bed when the alarm goes off) when I do not get enough sleep. I can’t work for twelve hours straight (even when I want to). I can’t willingly force myself into too much work stress at one time, or I will fall apart.

AND ALL OF THAT IS NORMAL.

I’ve watched many, many hours of Netlflix already this year – AND I’M HAPPY ABOUT IT.

I’ve read 20 books in the past three months. AND I LIKE IT.

I’ve also spent many hours working. And when I’m done working, I do fun stuff. I STOP WORKING, SO I DON’T GET TOO ANXIOUS ABOUT WORK, AND I RELAX.

To me, that is success. Figuring out how to work hard for 10 or so hours a day, and then do absolutely nothing productive until I ACTUALLY GO TO BED AND ACTUALLY SLEEP.

This is not lazy. Enjoying your life is not lazy.

When it’s time for work, I work very hard. I write many words. It is – and I am very fortunate to be able to say this, I know – my full-time career. I can’t let myself get anxious about work. The only things I’m allowed to get anxious about are (and I’m massively abbreviating the list here, for your sake): running out of coffee creamer in the middle of the day, not waking up when my alarm goes off, missing Grey’s Anatomy on Thursdays, forgetting to feed my cat, spelling a word wrong in a blog post …

You get the idea.

Fill your life with enough things that bring you joy, and you can manage. Writing is a big part of your life, but it is not your whole life. Take care of yourself. Success is possible only when you put as much effort into emphasizing the importance of your well-being as you do your job.

Trust me – it’s well worth 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.

If Everyone in the World Read the Words You Published Next, What Would You Write?

If your words had infinite reach, how would you use them?

If your words had infinite reach, how would you use them?

If you had one chance to reach everyone, everywhere, right now – what would you say?

What are the first words that come to mind?

Which topic would you choose as your focus?

What would your angle be?

How would you feel, writing it all down?

The answers to all of these questions are what make up your mission. Your purpose. The one thing in a single lifetime you set out to accomplish with the help of your words.

A long time ago, I stopped using the following phrases:

  • My words don’t matter
  • No one is listening to me
  • I’m not important enough to make a difference.

Because what do I – what do we – know about any of these things? If we had a chance to publish something everyone would see, we would write about the same things we’re writing about now.

Wouldn’t we?

And if we wouldn’t – then what are we doing with our time?

If you aspire to write in such a way, with such an audience, that helps you change the world as well as the people in it, then you should already be writing about the things that matter most to you. You should already be spreading the exact messages you would send to every person in the world, if you could.

The best way to make good use of your time is to write as if your words DO matter. As if EVERYONE is listening. Like you ARE important enough to make a difference.

So. What would you write about?

Rather – what are you going to start writing about today?

Because today isn’t just another day. It’s a new beginning. Or it could be, if you let it.

Write something meaningful today, as if the world is ready and waiting to read it. Because for all you know, they are. Online is still a wondrous thing, in that you don’t always know who is out there reading what you write; benefiting from what you say; living out the advice you give. It’s lovely to know when a specific person is listening. It’s thrilling to imagine everyone who might be, though you may never know for sure.

If nothing else, write because there’s a possibility your words are someone else’s hope. The world feels very big, and you feel very small inside it, until you realize there’s a lot you don’t know about how far your words can reach.

To think over seven billion people will read your words all at once might be wishful thinking. But you’re a writer. Nothing is impossible when making up realities is your job.


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.

For Anyone Who Jumps Into New Projects … Then Abandons Them

Here’s an idea: don’t start developing a new idea.

I come across many writers who struggle to finish projects. They start, they are excited to get going, but they very quickly abandon their work.

There are a few different factors that play into this problem: focus, discipline and confidence (or lack thereof) are a few common hurdles.

But many people also don’t realize what they’re actually doing when they hop from one project to the next.

The moment they get a new idea for a story, for example, they immediately start writing it.

In many cases, this is a surefire way to fail before you’ve even really started.

How about trying this instead: don’t start writing the new story or working on the new project.

Let the idea sit there.

Let it take up space in your brain.

Let it beg to be written, even if it drives you crazy.

Because here’s what happens: the idea either dies, or it thrives.

It either dissolves into nothing or blossoms into a project worth pursuing.

If it’s not important to you, if it doesn’t have a solid enough foundation or it’s just not as interesting as you initially thought it would be, it will go away. You likely won’t miss it.

When it does matter, when you really want to develop it, when your creativity is already starting to take hold of it, it won’t disappear. You won’t forget it.

So many people complain about writing taking too much time (indirectly). Why waste time on an idea you don’t care about, that isn’t important to you?

For many people, the longer an idea stays untouched, the more chance it has to develop before the work even begins. And that makes you feel even more motivated to finish what you’ve already started, so you can move on to this new idea that truly is growing on you.

Jumping into a new idea too soon, you’re so much more likely to quit. It’s underdeveloped. All you have is the one small element of an entire story that sparked the idea in the first place. Once you get past that, it stops being fun (mostly). It gets hard. And many people don’t know how to handle that.

Wait. It’s not going to kill you.

This is not the best method for every writer to follow. But it can be very helpful for those who consistently start and abandon projects without ever finishing anything in full.

I’ve been sitting on a new idea for a book for months. Every time I think about it, I get excited. But I know I’m not ready to start writing it yet. I’m not putting it off – I just have way too many other projects that are of a much higher priority than starting a new book.

Last night, I randomly got an idea for a TV show. I’m probably not going to even outline that for at least a year, if I do end up still wanting to pursue it by then.

I personally love letting new ideas circle around in my head. They make me happy on days when writing other stories gets frustrating. But I’m also a big believer in not abandoning things you’ve started, especially things you’re nearly 70,000 words into. Sigh. So, no new stories for me!

Yet.

I know many people don’t agree with the idea that you should let an idea simmer. But feel free to suggest a more effective cure for “can’t ever finish anything” syndrome. I don’t have that problem – but I can understand how frustrating it can be. And I’d love to help, any way I might.


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.