Tips for Writers Dealing With “News Fatigue”

Self-care matters.

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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.

7 Steps to Take After Your Writing Gets Rejected


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.

13 Habits That Make Writers Extremely Unlikable

Please don’t do these things (anymore or ever).

1. They always talk about writing but never actually do it.

2. They constantly beg other writers to read their stuff [for free].

3. They shower their followers with endless complaints about how awful it is to be a writer.

4. They only talk about themselves, even in their work.

5. Every conversation has to be about their writing life.

6. All they ever do online is promote their accomplishments.

7. They get overly defensive when others comment on and/or criticize their work.

8. They refuse to collaborate and interact with other writers and readers.

9. They’re “never wrong.”

10. They only put down and pick apart others.

11. Their way is the only way.

12. They deliberately discourage others from trying to make a living as writers.

13. They insist on being “the next J.K. Rowling.” Even when they haven’t published anything yet.


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 World’s Most Successful Writers Are Doing Something You Aren’t (Yet)

Fear is still an excuse, no matter how legitimate.


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.

Stop Memorizing So Many Writing Rules

Rules are great. You don’t have to follow all of them, though.

My sophomore year of high school, I had two classes with the same teacher — English and creative writing.

These two subjects are a lot alike. They are also very different.

In English, to teach us different patterns of sentence structure, our teacher had us write sample sentences for each type of structure. I loved it, of course — I got to write, AND I got to learn weird grammar rules while doing it.

And then I had to walk into that same classroom later in the day and do the exact opposite — write things without following any sort of structure.

It was harder than you’d think. Human brains like patterns. But there were a few times he had to remind me to stop “writing inside the lines.”

I was young then. We’ve all been there. In school, you’re afraid to be too “out there.”

But you can’t carry around that kind of fear in the real world. Especially not when you’re trying to make a name for yourself as a writer.

I like rules. My slight obsession with following them makes me a pretty good editor.

My refusal to follow many of them, on the other hand, makes me an even better writer.

This does, of course, come from someone who has been doing this whole writing thing for … uh, a long time now. I’ve done my part. I’ve learned all the rules. I’ve written papers exactly the way my instructors have told me to. I’ve written articles exactly the way my clients demanded they be written.

I just used so much passive voice it’s disgusting. But I’m allowed to do whatever I want. I make my own rules now.

You can do that, when it’s for a good cause (your content).

Do you have to learn the basic rules of grammar and structure and how your industry of choice works first? Absolutely.

But if you’re letting the rules keep you from actually getting massive amounts of writing done, you need to take a step back and just let yourself “go crazy.”

And by that, I mean, don’t force yourself to stay between invisible lines when you don’t have to. Parameters are there to teach you how to begin, to give you a foundation off of which to build yourself up.

It’s OK to break the rules. Especially when breaking the rules means letting yourself create in a style and at a capacity you never knew you were capable of before.

I don’t think you’ve reached your full potential as a writer until you’ve at least tried to write something that’s good enough not to have to follow any rules you don’t want it to.

Maybe you’re not ready for that yet. That’s OK.

Keep writing until you are.

Or work your way up to it, slowly. That’s OK, too. You have time.

Don’t obsess over doing everything “right” or “perfect.” That’s not how things get written, and you know 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.

12 Ways to Challenge Yourself and Level Up Your Writing in 2018

Challenge yourself. Grow. Thrive.

1. Dare to ask for feedback on the project you’re most — or least — confident about.

2. Write outside your genre.

3. Write a story from a viewpoint on an issue you disagree with.

4. Take a short break from writing and pay attention to the ideas you generate in its absence.

5. Tell a story without using words.

6. Publish something on a different platform than you’re used to.

7. If you write too much, try writing less.

8. If you don’t write enough, write more.

9. Do something creative that terrifies you.

10. Speak up when you normally wouldn’t.

11. Introduce yourself to another writer. You never know where it might lead.

12. Make a writing resolution you’re not sure you can achieve — and try, really try, until you do it.


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


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

Why Many Books Don’t Sell

What’s more important — your book, or the person who wrote it?

I’m surprised at how many aspiring writers say their biggest struggle is marketing their work.

This surprises me because I’m a very author-focused consumer, personally. If I haven’t heard of you, or someone I follow hasn’t recommended your book, I’m very unlikely to purchase your book.

People focus so much on their product — for our purposes in this post, we’ll just stick with books — that they forget the other half of the equation: the person publishing that book. The writer.

Who are you? If a consumer doesn’t know, they probably won’t care about your paranormal YA romance novel, if we’re being honest here.

My theory — and maybe the theory of many others — is that it’s hard, maybe even impossible, to sell a book without an audience.

If you’re a debut author backed by a major publishing company, maybe you’ll be fine. Your chances of success are much higher, anyway.

Let’s be clear — I am not an expert here. I’ve self-published some novellas and I created this blog and I write for a media company and I know a lot about how writing, in terms of craft and online publishing, works.

But I have not worked in the publishing industry. I don’t know anyone personally who does. I haven’t even sent out my first query letter yet.

The reason I’m sharing my theory is because I see writers’ imbalanced focus on what’s important when promoting their work. And I think these words might help some of them.

If even I were to try to self-publish and sell a novel right now, I’d most definitely fail. Whatever failure means in the publishing world, if there’s a metric. At the least, some members of my audience might say, “Sure, I’ll support you.” But that’s about it.

There are so many books out there — especially now that self-publishing is a mainstream route for aspiring writers — that people are highly unlikely to pick yours up if they don’t already know who you are.

Sure — a title, a cover, a good synopsis, all these things increase your chances of selling.

But they aren’t guarantees.

What you need, if you want to get published, is an audience.

How do you get one? You write stuff. A lot of stuff. And this is why so many aspiring writers are struggling. Because they refuse to write for free, even though that’s literally the only way you’re ever going to get published no matter what kind of writing you do.

As a beginning writer, you need at least a healthy host of freelance clients. If you don’t have enough experience for that, you need a day job and a side hobby (probably involving writing). If you keep turning down writing opportunities because they’re unpaid, honestly, what do you expect? That someone is just going to come along, see that you have zero experience or work to prove your worth, and hire/sign you?

That’s not how it works. This is, of course, coming from someone who blogged for three years (for free) before even getting a low-paying stipend job as a student journalist. (And by the way, it took until five years after that to get my first full-time writing job. Yeah, this stuff takes awhile.)

If you want to sell a book, you have to build an audience. And if you want to build an audience, you have to write a lot. Many things for free. Many things you would rather not write. Now that so many people have access to publishing tools, a following is, in my experience, pretty much a requirement if you want to accomplish anything as a writer.

I could go on about this. About consistency, about responsiveness, about how to treat your audience well — and I will, in a separate post.

But I just want you to understand that yes — literally anyone can publish a book. There is nothing stopping you from doing that.

If you keep holding yourself back because you’re afraid of failing, maybe writing isn’t for you. Writers fail. All the time. It’s part of the job.

If you want to succeed, your personal/professional brand matters a lot more than you think.

Instead of focusing on marketing your book, you need to tell people why they should care. And that often involves telling them why they should care about you.

An audience develops slowly over years. I know that’s not what you want to hear. But it’s the truth.

How does all this start? By sitting down and writing. You can talk about how much you want to be published all you want. But if you never write, well … good luck with that.


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 nine-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 now.

What Your Forgotten Writing Goals Say About Your Future

Why didn’t you do that thing?

Looking at my goals for the year, I’ve come to the realization that so far, I have accomplished … well. Not as much as I originally planned to.

That’s not a good feeling.

And yet, it also happens to be one of those moments of growth we often take for granted.

Not crossing something off our lists doesn’t mean we’ve failed. We just didn’t get something done. It’s the reason behind that shortcoming, not the shortcoming itself, that matters.

Look at the one thing you really wanted to do this or last year, but didn’t. Why not?

You can look back at what you haven’t accomplished and ask yourself why you did not reach your goal. Was it because you lost interest? Because something unexpected came up that took precedence over everything else? Or did you struggle to manage your time, prioritize your tasks, and stay motivated to get things done?

Let’s say you wanted to finish writing your book this year. You fully intended to make this happen. But about halfway through the year, you realized you really didn’t want to finish telling that particular story. You decided your time would be much better spent on a different project. As much as you didn’t want to leave your book behind … you knew it had to be done.

That’s not failure. Just because you didn’t finish one thing doesn’t mean you’re incapable. Quite the opposite. You were aware enough of your priorities and future aspirations that you were able to make the conscious decision to set aside something from your past. That’s a good thing.

However, if you haven’t worked on your book simply because you just “haven’t had time,” that’s a sign you need to put more energy into prioritizing all the things you want to do.

But again — just because you’re bad at managing your time doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It just means you need a planner, or a better alarm clock, or a temporary Netflix detox.

Sometimes the goals we set in January aren’t as important to us by November. That’s okay. Our focuses and desires are constantly changing. You will always have a few “big” things you’re working toward, and plenty of small ideas that may or may not make it onto your list of accomplishments for the year. That’s normal. Healthy, even.

Don’t get discouraged if you look up and realize you didn’t do That One Thing … again. There’s a reason why. If that reason was or is out of your control, shrug it off and either transfer it to next year’s goals or just let it go. If it was or is completely in your control, some behavioral adjustments may be in order.

This is all part of growing as a writer. You learn to shake off the things that don’t matter and figure out how to hold on to the things that do.

Whether you’re disappointed or sort of relieved, hang in there. If you really want to finish writing that book, you’ll find a way. You always will.


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 nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Hey! I’m vlogging my way through NaNoWriMo. Here’s yesterday’s video.

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

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Use This Trick to Get Inspired to Create

Still don’t know what to write about? Try this.

Whether you realize it or not, you use other people’s creations to inspire you to create. And when you are struggling to come up with an idea you’re motivated enough to turn into something tangible, you often make the mistake of walking away from everything, in an attempt to clear your head.

Maybe when you’re stuck, you should instead try taking a moment to think about what, if anything, you would love to read/watch/listen to right now.

Does it exist? If so, does the thing that already exists cover all the points and move in all the directions you’re hoping it will?

If not … that’s the door to inspiration — and creation — you didn’t know you were looking for.

Pay attention to particular thoughts like these:

I wish there was an article about …

I’d love to read a book about …

Why isn’t there more out there about …

Whatever comes after that ellipses? THAT is what you should write about.

“But there’s already so much out there about that thing!”

Not from you. Not from your brain, your way of thinking — not in your style.

If you ever start thinking about something that interests you, or causes you to question something, or you’re frustrated looking for something on a topic and can’t find it … you should be the one to make that thing you want to know more about.

After all, you can’t write what you know unless you first make the effort to know. One day I wondered what would happen if all however many billion of us on this planet went vegetarian. So I researched the idea and wrote an article about it.

A curious mind makes for a more prolific writer. Inspiration means something different for everyone — triggered for everyone by something unique. Maybe what inspires you most is seeking out the answers to your seemingly random questions … and then telling the world, through something you create, what you have just learned.

We shy away from this because we think “Oh, no one else is going to be interested in this.” Well how do you know? Your job as a creator isn’t to please everyone. It’s to create things that excite and interest you, knowing that there are like-minded people out there somewhere who will relate.

Don’t hold yourself back if you stumble upon something that makes you go, “Wow. That’s cool. I want to write about that.” WRITE ABOUT IT! That’s inspiration, whether it looks like it to you or not. Don’t let it escape you. Recognize it for what it is and let it carry you into something amazing.


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 nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Hey! I’m vlogging my way through NaNoWriMo. Here’s yesterday’s video.

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

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What’s the Point?

What’s your audience supposed to get out of this?

I want you to think about what you’re currently working on. A book, a short story, an article — whatever it may be. If you’re not currently working on something, think about the last thing you finished. Or the thing you hope to start soon.

Now let me ask you this: what is it about?

I don’t mean the plot. Don’t tell me who your characters/subjects are, who your audience is, why you decided to write your story. Tell me the point.

A book about a high school sophomore who writes letters to her missing sister is intriguing. But it is not the point of the book.

A book about the different ways grief changes a family may not be the most polished sentence (it’s six in the morning, cut me some slack), but it’s something much closer to its point, its message — the thing the author wants you to think about long after the book ends.

The better you know your core message, the more focused your writing will be — and the easier your revisions will seem, if you make it that far.

You should be able to boil down what your story is about into a single sentence. And if you can’t do that yet, then you’re not 100 percent clear on what message you’re trying to convey to your audience. And if you don’t know what you’re talking about, they won’t, either.

Does this mean you should stop writing if you’re not fully confident in your overarching point? Of course not. When it comes to first drafts without time constraints (e.g., NaNoWriMo), get the first draft out first. Worry about whether or not it makes sense later.

I’ve gotten into the habit of outlining a story I’ve already written, after the fact, to see if all the connections that need to be made have been made successfully. It’s what works for me. If everything fits and my story conveys the message I want to, the best way I know how, I’m satisfied.

If it doesn’t, and I have the desire, I enter revisions and set out to “fix” what didn’t work the first time.

However, I also understand the barrier of time constraints. My job requires me to write one to two articles per day each week. If I don’t have my article’s point nailed down before I start writing, there won’t be enough time to fix any parts of it that veer away from that message. And that’s bad.

So sometimes, your message has to come first. Headlines, titles, characters — all that has to come second. And many writers struggle with that. They know they want to incorporate the whole writing letters to MIA sister thing. But they have no idea how to build a much bigger story around that.

I’ve found, in my 12+ years (!) of drafting everything from novels to news briefs to press releases, that the easiest way to pick out the flaws in your writing, relative to your core message, is to write a first draft. Then you have something to look at as you’re doing that evaluation, instead of trying to picture in your head whether or not what you haven’t even written yet is going to work.

Is writing a rough draft that feels disorganized scary? A little bit. But do you know what’s even more stressful? Wanting to write something, but never actually writing anything.

My philosophy: write first, organize later. This is coming from a person who cannot get out of bed on time in the morning unless I’ve planned out by day by the hour the night before. It’s called a rough draft because it’s supposed to be a mess. Embrace that.

So, can you do it? Can you summarize, in one sentence, what your story is about?

If not … don’t worry. Just keep writing.


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 nine-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 now.