12 Reminders for the Writer on Hiatus — But Not By Choice

We don’t always choose to take a break. Sometimes stepping away is a necessity, not an option.

1. You need this break.

2. You’re exhausted, or unwell, or your energy and time are needed elsewhere.

3. You are not a failure, you are not lazy, you are not weak.

4. In fact, creators who know their limits are probably the strongest and most successful of them all.

Continue reading “12 Reminders for the Writer on Hiatus — But Not By Choice”

12 Struggles All Successful Writers Eventually Learn to Work Through

It’s OK to struggle! As long as you don’t give up.

1. Being afraid to put your work out there. Like, it’s still scary most if not all of the time, but you get used to just dealing with it and doing it anyway! YAY FEAR!

2. Not knowing what to write about. (You eventually learn to either “just write anyway” or put in many practice hours into refining the art of “just

3. Determining which ideas are good and worth pursuing and which are not. It takes time to get the hang of this one, but as long as you remember that even bad ideas aren’t completely useless, you’ll be just fine.

4. Finishing what you start. There are going to be plenty of projects you start but never get around to finishing, but you’ll learn to make the ones you finish truly count — while also learning from the things you leave behind.

Continue reading “12 Struggles All Successful Writers Eventually Learn to Work Through”

How to Write Stories That Scare You

Some stories are just meant to be written.

I was not prepared to start writing another book. In fact, the idea of abandoning one project for another was so ridiculous that when the idea approached me I actually laughed out loud in an empty room … to myself.

“No,” I said. “Go away. I’m busy.”

I actually spoke these words, as if saying them out loud would convince the idea before me that it truly was not welcome here.

The trick did not work, of course. I am a busyness addict (not proud, just stating a fact). I never claim to be too busy for anything, especially when it comes to writing.

So what was really going on inside my head?

The truth — as much as I can reveal to you at this particular moment in time — was that as the idea began unfolding in my mind, taking up more space, expanding inside me to fill all the empty space reserved for random and passive thoughts, I quickly came to the realization that if I were to give it the level of attention it begged for, I would be heading into something I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle.

What I learned, not long after that, is that fear is strong. But so am I.

Continue reading “How to Write Stories That Scare You”

Why Do Some Readers Give Writers Such Harsh Feedback?

Okay but did you have to say it like THAT?

There isn’t a writer I know who isn’t even just a little curious about what others think of their work.

Most writers don’t do it exclusively for the feedback, but it’s sure a nice perk. Especially when you’re lucky enough to get compliments on something you’ve written.

But if you’ve been part of any online community for any extent of time, you already know compliments aren’t the only thing you’re subject to when you publish something on the internet. In fact, it’s almost certain that if something you create gets noticed by many people, it will receive criticism.

And sometimes that criticism … just isn’t nice.

Some people can give feedback in a gentle and well-meaning way, and that’s often much appreciated. But others just skip the advice and go straight for saying hurtful things. But there’s a reason for that.

Continue reading “Why Do Some Readers Give Writers Such Harsh Feedback?”

You Don’t Have to Write Every Day — But You SHOULD Do This

It’s not great advice. But it’s often misinterpreted.

“If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day.”

This is quite possibly the most controversial piece of writing advice out there. The reason it’s so widely debated is because many people fall into the “because it worked for me, it will work for everyone” trap.

Those highly inexperienced in the realm of giving advice assume that their methods are universal, and those with little experience in the activity or topic related to that advice don’t know any better than to take it to heart.

I personally write probably about 28 days out of every month, sometimes more depending on travel plans. I have found that I am at my best creatively and dare I say spiritually when I write. Writing, for me, is like exercise. It relieves anxiety and stress, improves my mood, and motivates me to accomplish more tasks. It also makes me feel like I’m making constant progress toward my writing goals, which steadies my confidence and just overall makes me a better person.

Because of my almost daily writing schedule, I have learned how to write despite surrounding chaos, push through the pain (yes, sometimes writing is painful), and have accomplished many things I am proud of in the past year alone.

However, I have never, and will never, tell people that they “must” write every day simply because it has worked for me. That wouldn’t just be irresponsible: It would be unfair. Whether they want to admit it or not, many aspiring writers are desperate, and they’re going to cling to any advice that “promises” them success. If someone tells them they can’t be a “real” writer unless they write every day, then gosh darn it, they’re going to commit to writing every day.

This would be fine if writing every day was feasible for the general population. But it isn’t. It can actually be dangerous and destructive for people who are not used to the mental, emotional, and physical toll writing takes on you. Burnout is a hot topic right now. Do you want to know why? Because people are told they have to do something daily to form a habit, they take it literally, they go all in for a week and they completely wear themselves out.

Some take a deep breath, center themselves, and keep going. But many don’t. Many are scarred by that experience and they don’t go back to it again.

It’s like someone who hasn’t done a workout in two years trying to run five miles every day for a month. You’re not going to make it. You might actually hurt yourself trying.

So no. Writing every day is not an effective strategy for everyone. If you do it and it works for you, great. If you don’t think you can handle it, then don’t force yourself. It’s not the frequency of writing that matters, but the consistency.

However, just because you don’t write every day doesn’t mean you should spend your off days with your book or blog or portfolio completely on the back burner. Here’s a fun fact: You can work on a story without actually “working” on it. Yes! I mean it!

After all, all stories begin with a thought. That’s also how they grow and develop, even when you aren’t actively sitting in front of your computer typing out the words.

I’m going to use last night as an example. I had just finished the minimum amount of writing I needed to do for the day. I could have written more, but I was tired — mostly tired of sitting at my desk hunched over my keyboard. I knew I would be much more productive in the morning if I called it quits for the night.

But after I’d gotten comfortable and entered full relaxation mode, my mind began to wander back to a story I’ve been chipping away at for the past month or so. I didn’t force it, but I also didn’t try to suppress it. I sort of just sat back and let the story consume my thoughts for a little while.

I did not technically “work” on that story yesterday. I did not contribute new words to it. But I did think about it. And because of that, I have a few ideas I can work with as soon as I sit down to work on it later today.

Even if you don’t write, you should allow yourself some time every day to “meditate” with your ideas.

Think about your story. Focus on it. Spend time with it. Get to know it.

This is the kind of thought and creativity that energizes instead of exhausts. There is a big difference between sitting alone with an idea and actively pursuing it. One technically isn’t “work” and the other is. But both are healthy and productive means of channeling your creativity into something purposeful.

Every day, make the time to at least think about your stories. When people suggest that writing every day is essential, I think what they mean is that you should have your head in your craft as much as possible — every single day, if possible, even if you don’t actually write.

Is actively writing an extremely important part of the process? Yes. If you do not write, you are not a writer.

But sometimes it’s okay to just sit back and fall into your stories for a while. Chances are, you’ll emerge more excited and motivated to work on them than you were before.

Excitement and motivation often lead to writing. And that’s not a bad thing at all, is 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.

The Best of Novelty Revisions – 10-Year Anniversary Edition

My best blog posts of all time!

I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I’ve been publishing words on the same blog for over a decade. Starting out, I knew blogging would take commitment and constant motivation. But I just wasn’t sure if I had it in me until I decided to keep going.

Over the years, I’ve published some pretty terrible things. I’m not (totally) ashamed of them. But I’ve also published some pretty awesome stuff — well, you guys seem to think so, anyway.

These are the most-loved, most-viewed posts on this blog of all time, from January 11, 2009 to now. If you missed any of them along the way, make sure to give them a read. According to your fellow readers, they’re worth it!

10. What Does It Mean to Be an “Accomplished” Writer?

“Is there some kind of chart that states when you’ll officially have “made it”? We all wish there were. In reality, the “answer” is much less clear.”

9. Stop Trying to Be “The Next J.K. Rowling”

“Do you really want to follow the same path as another writer — mimicking someone else’s success story instead of creating your own?”

8. What If You Write Something No One Else is Interested in Reading?

“It would have been very easy to give up early on in my blogging journey. I say that because many people do. They’re so worried about their small audiences and whether or not what they’re saying or talking about is “interesting” to the people around them that they just quit.”

7. This Is What a Full-Time Writer’s Schedule Looks Like

“Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a writer full-time? Everyone’s schedules are different, but I thought I would take the time to show you mine.”

6. How to Juggle Multiple Writing Projects At Once

“Here are my tips for juggling multiple writing projects at once, if you’re worried about how you’re going to do that this year.”

5. You Don’t Need More Motivation to Write — You Just Need Fewer Distractions

“It’s not motivation you’re after. It’s a lack of distractions. And only you have the power to do what you have to do to put writing first, in front of the things you would much rather be doing.”

4. Many People Still Don’t Understand Writing As a Job

“As much as I sometimes wish that easy, effortless money were the outcome (you know, on those really rough days), it isn’t. For those who think otherwise, listen up. For those who are in my position, you will appreciate this rant.” 

3. All Writers Start Out Writing Terrible Things

“Need some encouragement? Here it is: You might totally suck at writing at the moment. Or not. But that’s OK, because at some point along the way, we all do.”

2. The Unexpected Power of Writing Letters You’ll Never Send

“All my thoughts and feelings – positive or negative – intensify. And then they level out. And it’s like I’ve had an hour-long heart-to-heart with someone without seeing them face-to-face or messaging them over Facebook.”

1. Pros and Cons of Writing Stories Chronologically

“Is there a right or wrong way to construct a story? Really, it depends on your preference and which parts of the story you want to focus on.”

I know I said it on Twitter, but I’ll say it again here: Thank you. Whether you’ve been reading for 10 years or 10 minutes, thank you for the support and encouragement I often forget I need to keep doing what I do. I’ve stuck with blogging for so long because of those of you who need/appreciate the words I have in my heart and the passion I have for writing and helping other writers find their own success.

I couldn’t have done any of this without you. Here’s to 10 more years.

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.

Find Someone Who Believes Your Writing Matters.

Say what you mean. Always.

Grief is strange.

It has a funny way of reminding you, at seemingly the worst possible moments, that it’s not completely gone. That it will never be gone. That with every anniversary that passes, that dull ache will return — even just for a moment — and suddenly it will feel like no time has passed at all.

I told this story in a Project for Awesome video a few years ago — maybe one reason I feel so weary and shaken as I type this. I just find it so unbelievable that five years later it still hurts that he’s not here.

I’m not sure I would have become a writer professionally if it weren’t for my high school creative writing teacher. He was my mentor. He made me believe I could write for real because he genuinely believed I could.

Imagine being 17 years old and having someone tell you you’re going to make it and mean it. That’s life-changing. Imagine waking up every morning and being excited to write because you knew one day you’d be able to not only dedicate a book to this person, but you’d be able to hand them a signed hardcover copy in person and thank them for being so kind and inspiring.

Imagine waking up one morning and being told that person is gone forever.

What do you do when the person who believed in you goes away? You get up. You keep trying. Maybe one day you actually do all the things they said you would. But not right away. Because first you have to fal apart, and get mad at everything, and cry so hard you lose your voice. Twice.

The thing is, through all this, the only thing you want is to say all the things you never said. Like “I’m sorry for not responding to your emails” and “I’m sorry I never went back home to visit” and “thank you.”

You figure out how to go on anyway. You figure out how to write through the pain. You remember how much they believed in you, and that fire just keeps burning inside you for years. Hopefully for decades.

But you never forget. You never stop thanking them, in your heart, for everything.

Every day I wish I could say thank you to him. I can’t.

So if you do have someone in your life who supports your creative efforts — in big or small ways — tell them how much it means to you. TELL THEM HOW MUCH THEY MEAN TO YOU.

And if you have yet to find that person … remember that even when there’s someone there who believes in you, you have to believe in you too. You have to believe your work is worth it. Because there won’t always be someone. All you’ll have left then is you.

Hold on to those who care. And never forget to keep going even when it feels like you’re on your own.

You write for a reason. KEEP WRITING for that reason. No matter what.

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.

Why You Shouldn’t ‘Go All In’ When Starting a New Writing Project

Does this go against the advice you’ve come to expect? Good.

The excitement you feel when you’re first starting to work on a new book, blog, or series of articles is addicting. But if you’re the kind of person who starts things but abandons them within a few months of hard work, not all hope is lost.

Here’s an unpopular slice of advice: When you’re starting a new writing project, put the least amount of effort into it as possible for the first month or so.


I know, I know. This goes against everything every productivity guru and writing expert has told you about rising, grinding, and keeping your head down until you make something good.

Yes, you need to be consistent — especially in the beginning.

True, you need to build a backlog of content, get a significant start on the rising action of your story, give prospective readers something to grab onto.

But even though it might seem like the best blogs, books, and similar projects spring up overnight and immediately gain traction, that’s not actually how things work.

For all you know, that blogger that just started posting last month spent the six previous ones scheduling out enough content to kickstart her site without anyone knowing.

She got excited about a new idea. But she also took her time to plan ahead and wrote posts slowly, one at a time, so she didn’t burn through her excitement until there was nothing left to keep her moving forward.

The main downside to diving headfirst into something new and hyper-producing content right away is that if you go too hard too fast, you’re going to burn out.

And I don’t just mean you’re going to end your days feeling tired, allow yourself a good night’s sleep, and pick back up right where you left off yesterday.

I mean you’re going to hit a wall. You’re going to have a really hard time getting back up. And once the excitement wears off and exhaustion kicks in, you’re much more likely to not even bother jumping back in.

Take it from someone who is prone to starting new things before thinking through how much work it’s actually going to take to not only get them off the ground, but also keep them in the air for an extended period of time.

Don’t write 20 blog posts in one week only to realize the only reason you wanted to start a blog was to get comments and likes on your posts.

Don’t write 50,000 words in one month before deciding the story isn’t worth finishing.

You’re excited. You want to capitalize on that motivation while it’s bright and hot and propelling you forward. But don’t spend all of it at once. Content creation, regardless of the type, should be a slow burn. Use your motivation to plan, to strategize, to ease in slowly.

If it’s something that truly matters to you — if it’s really meant to be — you’ll stick with it long after the initial appeal has worn off.

Pace yourself. Don’t start sprinting before you’ve even crossed the starting line. I know you’re impatient. But one of the greatest lessons a writer can learn is that not everything has to happen right now. Some of the best ideas unfold when you let them do so slowly over 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.

It’s Not Your Publishing Credits or Your Follower Count That Makes You a Writer — It’s This.

It’s OK to not feel OK.

We’ve all had those days — the ones where we clock out of our day jobs, greet our fur babies, sit down on the couch for five minutes … and then it’s 9 PM and oops we didn’t write again oh well maybe tomorrow!

And repeat.

But there are also days we do try to write. And it doesn’t always go well. Sometimes the words just aren’t coming out right. Or you got another rejection email and you don’t want to even look at your computer screen anymore. Or the 40-hour workweek is exhausting you so intensely that even your small writing accomplishments don’t feel worth celebrating.

Sometimes … you just don’t feel like a writer.

And then you start questioning whether or not what you’re doing actually matters.

You haven’t published a best-seller. You’re tweeting into the void and no one’s responding. You barely even blog anymore. Should you even bother?

Maybe you’re just not looking at the correct definition of “writer.”

Chances are, if you’re chipping away at a book, trying to write blog posts, or even just sketching out ideas as they come, you’re actually doing just fine.

What makes you a “real” writer isn’t how many things you’ve published, how much money you’ve made, how many people follow you or even how long you’ve been doing it.

What makes you a writer is the simple fact that every day, you wake up not only believing that your work matters, but also that you’re trying as hard as you can to make your big dreams a reality.

This doesn’t mean you have to physically write something every day. It doesn’t mean you have to send 1,000 emails a week to editors or agents. It doesn’t mean that if you feel like you’re struggling, you’re not doing your best.

Writing is hard. I will never try to sugar-coat that. I will never try to crush someone’s dreams by saying “becoming” a writer takes years of practice, hard work, and exhaustion. Because I don’t know of any writer who doesn’t feel the weight of The Grind.

Everyone is trying to get better at some aspect of their craft. And everyone is struggling with something that has nothing to do with their writing projects, and has to figure out how to write and deal with that at the same time.

If you’re writing 50 words a day, and that’s it, you’re still a writer.

If you’re taking some time off of writing to deal with life, but you’re still thinking about all the stories you could tell, you’re still a writer.

If you hate your day job and can only stand to write a few days a week, you’re still a writer.

If you’ve been trying to finish the same book for five years, writing one page at a time, you’re still a writer.

What makes someone a writer is that they are writing. Maybe no one will ever see that first draft. Maybe a magazine will never pick up your essay. Maybe you’ve collected so many rejections you’ve forgotten what it’s like to receive praise. It doesn’t matter. Your best is your best, and that has to be good enough. It’s better than not trying at all.

It might not always feel like you’re doing fine. But if you keep going, keep writing, keep trying, it’s all going to work out. You have to believe that. We all do.

Here's some extra encouragement for you today.

When Writing Reminds You You're Not Very Good at This (Yet)

When It Feels Like No One Else Is Proud of You

Do This the Next Time You Feel Like Leaving the Writing Life Behind

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.

My First “Real” Job Had (Almost) Nothing to Do With Writing

Everyone has to start somewhere.

I was so excited to have a job lined up after graduation.

Most of my family and friends assumed I’d gotten some kind of writing job, though. No one really understood why I was choosing to commute an hour into the city and back every day to sit at a desk and enter information into databases for eight hours straight.

But it really wasn’t a choice. When you’re desperate and in debt, you take any job you can get.

I was a little frustrated that I wasn’t getting to do the kind of work I’d been training for years to do. But as you can probably imagine, I needed the funds, I needed some kind of work experience, and I hadn’t been writing in the “real world” long enough to get any freelancing clients.

So in a way, I settled for something temporary and not totally related to my preferred career path. But I wasn’t the first or only writer who has ever done this.

Unfortunately, so many aspiring writers think just because they’ve been writing on their own for a long time, they’ll have no problems settling into their “dream jobs.”

That’s not how it works.

I’m not saying you’ll never get to where you want to be. But it probably won’t happen right away.

It didn’t for me. I was a “data entry specialist.” There were numbers involved.

But it was a job that didn’t force me to take work home.

Which meant I could spend my entire commute — and my evenings and weekends — working on my own writing projects and building up my freelancing portfolio.

And that meant that when that job ended, I wasn’t totally lost. I had things to fall back on. Almost like I’d been building something up in the background intended for later use.

I don’t use many skills from that job now. But those paychecks helped me pay for a large chunk of graduate school. And my graduate degree is the reason I earned my first full-time writing job — a job that, YES, actually involved writing!

It’s a process. Not everyone gets a good job as a writer straight out of college, or straight out of little experience. If you go into it knowing that, you’ll face a lot less disappointment and frustration. Some people have day jobs that don’t utilize their passions, but nights and weekends are all theirs. There’s nothing wrong with that. Especially if you find you don’t have any other choice.

Don’t get discouraged if your dream job isn’t achievable quite yet. You’ll get there. Having a full-time job while figuring out exactly what I wanted to do with my passion for writing ended up being one of the best accidental decisions I ever made. Actually, I highly recommend 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.