Are You Setting Up Your Writing Routine All Wrong? | #WRITERTWEETS

A “sit-down” routine doesn’t have to be complicated.

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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.

How I Took Back Control of My Writing Time After Completely Losing It

Regain control. Write like the beast you already know you are.

I hadn’t touched my novel in almost four months.

Every blog post I wrote took twice as long as it should have. I dragged myself through them day after day, because I always wished I were doing something else.

I looked at my writing goals every day, getting more frustrated each time. Because I hadn’t accomplished any of them yet. It was almost March, and, in the grand scheme of things, I’d barely written anything since December.

But I’d read plenty of books, watched more than enough TV, and had told myself “I’ll get back on track by the end of the month” three times too many.

I knew I’d lost control of my writing time. I knew it wasn’t anyone else’s fault but mine.

And I knew I had to fix it, before it was too late.

These are the strategies that helped me regain control without giving up the things I loved. This is how I got back to writing, without making it a punishment.

If you’ve ever been here — out of control and wondering how to get it back — here’s my advice for you.

Disclosing distractions, facing roadblocks

When it comes to writing, distractions are the things that pull you away from writing no matter how inspired and/or motivated you are to get your work done. I might sit down at my desk 100% committed to finishing my article within the hour, but I get a text from someone I haven’t talked with in awhile, and suddenly that deadline goes right out the window.

I consider roadblocks to be a little different when talking creativity. They’re the things that “block” you from even sitting down to write in the first place, or prevent you from wanting to write at all. When I’m trying to outline a pitch email to a prospective client, but I get anxious about the possibility of getting rejected (it happens), I might put it off for days. Weeks, even.

Whether you’re distracted or blocked, identify and pin down the things keeping you from writing. Self-doubt is one of the most common writing roadblocks creatives face but don’t know how to conquer. The solution that works best for me? Compartmentalizing and creating, one small step at a time.

Saying ‘yes’ to ‘less’

This comes in two forms: saying ‘yes’ to fewer distractions, and committing to fewer things at once.

Too many writers make the mistake of, for example, saying “no more Netflix” when they realize they’re spending too much time watching Netflix. (Not that I know what that’s like or anything.) “Less” is a much better strategy than “none.” I can do with fewer hours of streaming if it means gaining five or more hours of writing time per week. But you don’t want to suck all the fun out of your life. Balance, not extremes.

And here’s the reality you might not want to hear: it’s OK to say yes to fewer projects. Some people just aren’t equipped to work on five different things at once. If you’re trying to do too much, stop yourself before burnout hits you. Because it will, and it will hurt. It’s not something you ever want to have to give up writing to recover from.

Focusing on one thing at a time

My brain has two settings: hyper-focus and non-focus. I’m either so deep into my work that I lose track of my surroundings, or I can’t pay attention to a single thing for more than a few minutes. Over the past few years, I’ve personally found that it’s much easier for me to write when I’m only focused on writing the most pressing thing (e.g., this blog post, which should have been written almost a week ago).

This does not mean that I’m not simultaneously working on multiple projects at once. Ideally, a writer should always have more than one income stream — you never know what might happen tomorrow. But, when I’m at work for eight hours, for example, I focus only on what I’m working on at work. I don’t think about my blog, or about any other project. Work time is work time. Blog time is blog time.

If you’re having a hard time focusing, set a priority and get to work. When you have multiple things that need doing ASAP, take a deep breath and tackle them one at a time. Don’t put them off as long as possible, no matter how tempting. It’s not going to go away just because you keep pushing it aside.

You’re in control. Or you will be, again, soon.


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.

3 Things I Learned Writing for a Media Company Full-Time

A skilled writer never stops learning.

One of my main goals in keeping this blog is that I never imply to any reader that I have all the answers or know everything there is to know about writing.

I have always believed, and always will, that skilled writers never stop learning. So when I started my first full-time writing job, I showed up on my first day knowing I still had a lot to learn. And I was right.

I’ve learned plenty of important things that anyone can apply to their own writing endeavors. Whether you consider yourself a rising professional in the field or you just like to write for fun, some of these lessons might help you approach your work with a more realistic — but still optimistic — outlook.

1. Half the job is all about experimentation

There is no formula that guarantees something you write will always get the clicks or shares you think it deserves. Life would be a lot less stressful if there were. But the truth is, sometimes, you have to start throwing ideas against the wall at random to figure out what gets results and what doesn’t. And even then, often what you think will work will not — and the other way around.

If you want to succeed in writing, you have to dare to experiment. You can’t worry about failing or about being judged. You just have to let whatever”s going to happen, happen.

2. Sometimes you have to wait for things to take off (if they ever do)

Instant gratification does not exist in the writing world. Waiting is an essential part of the job. You wait for people to email you back. You wait for scheduled projects to be released. You publish something with more excitement than you know what to do with — and almost always, if it’s received well, you also have to wait to find that out.

It’s slow, and it’s hard to have patience when you feel like you’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t have a clear solution. But you have to learn to live with that.

3. As long as you’re writing to the best of your ability, you’re doing fine

There is only so much you can actually control when it comes to your content. You can write it, edit it, format it, and present it in a way that’s appealing and persuasive. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s about it. You can’t force people to click, to subscribe, to care. Sometimes that makes it seem like you’re putting a lot of hard work into things no one will ever read. That’s just part of the deal.

There is also only so much feedback other people can give you. They don’t have all the answers, either. This is why they call it “the grind.” You keep working until it pays off, 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.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a New Writing Project

Be honest: can you REALLY do this?

When new ideas hit, it’s tempting to jump in without considering whether or not that’s the best move to make. As a writer, you probably have a lot going on at once. Starting new projects is the easy part, compared to the follow-through.

How can you ensure you’re not going to bail on this three months from now? Start by asking yourself these questions to help you decide if you’re making the right choice for you right now.

1. Do you have time?

Time. You know, that thing we can never seem to have quite enough of. In all honesty, most of us are a lot worse at managing our time than we should be, and even though it’s not really shameful to admit it, what we really can’t afford to do is give ourselves more to do than we can handle, time-wise.

Be honest with yourself. Do you have the time required to put even a few extra hours into a new project every week — or a little bit every day? Can you set aside time blocked off specifically for writing this one thing? If you can’t, it’s OK to hit the pause button until you’re willing/able to make it happen.

2. Are you genuinely interested, or just bored?

You might not have thought of this, but some people’s brains have a tendency to bounce around from one thing to another a little too quickly. For me, boredom creeps in when I’m writing too much on the same topic, or in the same medium — and that’s when new ideas ever-so-conveniently start knocking.

The problem is, if you’re tempted out of boredom, and not legitimate interest, you won’t be able to stick with this new project very long before you get bored again and move on to something else. Maybe that’s your workflow “style,” but it might not be the most productive way to handle your work life all the time.

3. Do you have a long-term plan in place — or at least in the works?

Starting anything without an action plan is, usually, not a great idea. Yes, sometimes the best you can do is dive in and allow yourself to be a little bit spontaneous. But if it’s really a project you’re interested in pursuing in the long-term, your chances of sticking with it aren’t great if you don’t have a clear direction of where you want to take it.

At least do what you can to figure out when you’re going to sit down to work on it throughout the week, if it’s feasible. You don’t have to plan in too much detail — but you have to have something.

4. What are you REALLY hoping to accomplish?

Maybe you just have a fun idea and want to enjoy writing something random for a little while, no strings attached. Or maybe you have a much more tangible end goal in mind. Neither way is “right” or “wrong.” But it’s important to know what you’re really hoping to get out of this new thing before you commit to it.

Remember, goals — the only real way to make sure something gets done — help you establish not just where you’re going, but why. Your “why” is one of the most important drivers of theoretical success. When you’re struggling, it might be the only internal motivation you have.

5. Are you willing to give something up to make it happen?

When you make a commitment to work on something new, usually, something else has to take a trip down to the bottom of your priority list for awhile. Maybe it’s Netflix, maybe it’s reading, maybe it’s sleeping in on Saturday mornings.

You don’t have to make yourself miserable or stop doing the things that relax and recharge you. But some adjustments probably do need to be made to your schedule. Are you willing to make a few small changes so you have more time/energy for a little extra creative exercise?

If you want to dive right in, go ahead. As long as you’re confident you’re doing the best thing for you as a creator, chances are, you’re already on a good track.


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 Just Pitched An Article for the First Time In Forever and I Wasn’t Even Nervous … Nope, Not At all. NOPE.

Nope, that wasn’t terrifying at all.

I figured this sort of thing would be easy by now.

Pitching my skills as a writer, I mean.

I’ve been doing it for years. You do build up a small bit of resistance to the unpleasant possibility that your efforts could get shot down — or completely ignored. It’s a little less scary than it used to be. You learn to expect rejection.

But that definitely doesn’t mean it gets easier. Or that you’re ever completely immune to the anxiety surrounding the uncertainty of the matter.

For the first time in a long time — probably since I sent a thank-you email following the final interview before being offered my current full-time writing job — I put my game face on.

A probable writing opportunity bounced into my Twitter feed and proceeded to stare me down until I could no longer ignore it. I knew I had to at least reach out. Knowing I had nothing to lose, knowing the answer very well could have been “no thanks,” I figured, “How hard can it be?”

I sat on my hands for days. DAYS. Trying to decide the best method of contact. Email? Twitter? That questionable contact form on the website that you never know whether or not to trust? All of the above? None of it?

Then the doubt rolled in, as it always does.

What if they think I’m too forward? Too desperate?

What if they say no, and I get disappointed and sad?

What if they don’t say anything at all, and I’m just left here wondering what I might have done wrong this time around?

See? I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve succeeded and failed as an initiator in these conversations on too many occasions to count. And even I still get nervous. Even I still get scared that, somehow, I’m going to humiliate myself in front of someone I really want to impress.

But here’s the thing. There are two directions this crossroad can take you. You can give in to this fear, never take a chance, and let the “what if” questions cloud your conscience for the rest of your life …

Or you can take a deep breath, say “oh well” to all the possibilities, and hit send.

In this case, I chose to hit send. My hands shook when I did it. I got that feeling you get in your gut that you might have just done something dumb, even if it also sort of felt like the right thing.

The reality is, people on the receiving end of your queries about writing aren’t judging you the way you think. It’s very likely they’ve been in your same position before, and understand that just because they get messages just like yours all the time doesn’t mean you’re silly for trying.

I tell you this as a former magazine editor whose job it was to review article submissions and writing internship sample pieces. Everyone wants the same thing: to get their work published. They’re all trying. Whether your efforts work out in your favor or not … it’s really nothing personal.

So what happened after I submitted my pitch? I’ll let you decide the ending of this story for yourself. Maybe they loved it. Maybe I got rejected. That’s not the point. The point is, yes, this is one of the hardest parts of the writing process. But we all have to do it. And those of us who sidestep our doubts and fears and give it a swing really do fare better in the end, eventually.

Do it. Pitch it. The only way to guarantee failure is to never do anything at all.

Are you trying to pitch to a magazine editor? Here are the steps you should take.

Did your pitch get rejected (again)? Here’s what you should do next.


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.

Tips for Writers Dealing With “News Fatigue”

Self-care matters.


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.