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Stop Saying Everything You Read Is ‘Interesting’

You’re a writer. You can do better than that.

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There are a few small things that bother a very specific subset of people.

You don’t usually know it until you unintentionally do the thing that bothers that small selection of people. Or you’re one of them.

Sometimes they let you know you have committed some sort of invisible crime.

And often, they don’t.

Writers are amazing. I can say that because I belong to this very odd segment of the population (and I’m proud of it!). But sometimes, we’re weird. And obnoxiously particular about our pet peeves.

Isn’t it … interesting … how much we have in common, despite our differing opinions, creative preferences, and the like?

No, not really. It’s fascinating. Thought-provoking. But it’s certainly not interesting.

It’s one word. But for some, it’s like a thorn in the side. Nails on a chalkboard. I’m using cliches on purpose, because of course, I hate those.

There’s nothing wrong with the word itself, but instead how many people overuse or misuse it. Or interpret it, for that matter.

For the record … I don’t really care. My feelings aren’t hurt if you call something I write “interesting.” I get what you mean.

But you know how the internet is. People feel the need to act like everything offends them.

Yeah. You can offend someone by calling something they wrote “interesting.”

It makes sense why. But still.

“Interesting” has become the word people use when they don’t want to outright say that something is strange or 100% not at all interesting to them.

So even if that’s not how you use the word, when some writers read your comments about how “interesting” you thought their work was, there’s a chance they’ll get the wrong impression.

Actually, there’s a good reason why you shouldn’t overuse it besides the fact that someone might think you’re trying to be nice when really you hated a thing they said or wrote.

Here’s the good news: You’re a writer. You use words for a hobby/living. You can do better than that.

Don’t say something is interesting. Say it was or wasn’t helpful. Was or wasn’t insightful. Say why you did or didn’t like it.

Don’t be lazy with your words, because that’s just not a good reflection of who you really are — or who you have the potential to be — as a writer.

It’s something I need to work on too — being more careful about the words I choose when publishing things online, I mean. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is a skill you do develop over time, but like many other things, it needs constant refinement no matter how long you’ve been a writer.

Go forth. Read good content. Analyze it well, and choose your words wisely.


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 Things Wrong With Your Writing Routine

You’re doing it wrong. Probably.

1. You don’t have one — but you could really use one.

2. You think writing every day is essential — it isn’t!

3. You keep trying to get up early (or stay up late) even though it just doesn’t work for you.

4. You listen to your excuses.

5. You don’t plan ahead.

6. When you feel blocked, you stop writing entirely instead of writing something different.

7. You don’t sit down with a writing session goal already in mind.

8. You consistently choose distraction over focus.

9. You don’t “feel like” writing, so you put it off. All the time.

10. You haven’t figured out how to “productively procrastinate” yet.

11. You keep trying to apply the advice of “experts” even though it doesn’t work for you.

12. Maybe you’re just not a “writing routine” kind of creative. That’s OK. Do what works for you! As long as you’re writing, it doesn’t matter when or how much.


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.

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

What does accomplishment look like in the writing world?

If I asked the one thing, as a writer, you want to accomplish before you die, chances are you wouldn’t have a hard time giving a straight answer.

Most people want to write and/or publish a book. Some want to write for a specific company or in a specific genre. It varies from person to person.

But what most don’t realize is that even if they publish that book or become a writer for a specific employer, they still might not consider themselves “accomplished” writers.

Because a published author will always want to publish more books.

A staff writer will always want to generate more article hits.

Even end goals have stretch goals. Which makes it even harder for every writer to figure out how to achieve the most they can and consider themselves satisfied.

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.

Being an accomplished writer means whatever you want it to mean.

Maybe for you, it would mean blogging consistently for a few years and successfully growing your audience and increasing your traffic.

Maybe you need to publish a book before you achieve the sense of accomplishment you’re craving.

Or maybe you just want to, once and for all, decide the genre or style of writing you want to focus on and start setting goals in that specific area.

Unfortunately, there is no point at which you are certifiably “accomplished.” There are no certifications or diplomas that directly state you have managed to do something big and important with your life as a writer. It’s up to you to decide those metrics for yourself.

Not everyone is willing to assign goal posts to their own life, which is why it’s hard for a lot of writers — especially aspiring writers new to their craft — to stay motivated. They may have an end goal, but without some sense of what they really hope to accomplish, there’s no reason to keep pressing on when things get tough.

I personally think a writer who has worked consistently for many years to refine their skills and create content, has built up a loyal audience of any size, has a body of published work to display, and can be considered, with proof, highly knowledgeable about a particular subject (notice I did not say “expert”) has accomplished more than many ever will. And that matters.

 

Here's how to keep writing and reach your goals.

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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.

What Happens When You Write More Things That Scare You?

Hint: Many good things, zero bad.

1. You start writing things you normally wouldn’t … but somehow, it feels right.

2. You worry (a little) less about your future as a writer.

3. You stop trying to impress others and start trying only to impress yourself.

4. You end up trying a lot of new and exciting things.

5. You learn a lot about topics you otherwise never would have bothered to look into.

6. You also learn a lot about yourself — as a writer and as a human living in the real world.

7. You begin discovering the genres/styles of writing you are — and aren’t — good at.

8. You start feeling … free.

9. You start to believe you really can write things worthy of being published.

10. You realize you really had nothing to be afraid of after all.

11. You ALMOST start to like reading your own stuff. Almost.

12. You finally start to become the confident, risk-taking, accomplished writer you’ve always wanted to be.

Want to gain confidence as a writer? Let me help you with that.

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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.

This Simple Trick Will Make Reaching Your Writing Goals So Much Easier

It will change everything.

When I was younger, I used to worry about what my writing life might look like two, five, 10 years from now.

I remember spending an entire lecture during my first semester of college writing out my entire five-year plan. I “knew” exactly by what point I was going to graduate, when I was going to publish a book, when I was finally going to “be a real writer.” A “professional.”

I remember bits and pieces of that plan. And I can almost guarantee you that not a single one of the points on that plan played out the way I thought they would.

I did not graduate in three years; it took me five.

I did not publish a book at the age of 22; I still, technically, haven’t. (Unless you count self-publishing, which I did not at the time.)

I didn’t go on to get a master’s degree in creative writing; I currently don’t plan on it anytime soon, still.

We make plans because we’re scared things won’t happen.

When, in reality, things will always happen. Just not the way you think they will.

Here’s my advice for making and meeting reasonable writing goals that will let you relax a little:

Stop freaking out about your future.

No. Seriously. Stop it.

As much as we wish we could see into the future and know for sure if all this hard work will pay off someday, we can’t. There’s no way to know. Even writers who are good at what they do, who work as hard as they can and try their best, don’t always end up where they once thought they would.

Isn’t that the fun of it, though? Not knowing where you’re going? Not knowing if this blog post or that submission or a random email to someone you’ve never met would set you on a course for a professional life beyond what you ever could have imagined?

I know, I know. Sometimes, it just feels like too much. You’re trying to figure out if all this is worth it. You don’t like uncertainty. You can’t seem to handle the stress.

You are not alone.

All of us wish we could know for certain if we’re really meant to be writers or not.

But that’s where faith comes in. Regardless of how you personally view the word, whether it’s inspirational or spiritual or something different entirely.

You just have to believe that in one way or another, what you’re doing now will matter somehow, some way, at some point in time. You may not know when or how or why. But that’s life. Doing things not because you’re certain, but because you’re brave enough to hope. To believe in the possibility.

Maybe you can’t turn off your worry, your doubts, or your fears.

But you can choose to believe, in your own mind, that things are going to work out in your favor — even if things don’t exactly play out the way you hope they will.

Maybe someday, I’ll publish a book the traditional way, earn another degree. Maybe not.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to grow my blog, excel at my job, or do the kind of writing I like on the side.

The future is uncertain. But what you do today doesn’t have to be.


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 Things Writers Want (and Need)

You WANT more followers. You NEED to write more content.

Writers have desires just like any other type of artist or creator. We all want to feel like we belong somewhere. Like our words matter. Like we’re important, somehow.

If you stop and think about it right now, I bet you can come up with more than one thing, as a writer, you’d give anything to have.

A blog that can sustain you financially, for example.

Or a popular book that serves as a gateway to be able to write more popular books.

Maybe all you want is for someone to hear you.

But these are not necessities. In the end, we often want what we can’t immediately have because there’s no guarantee hard work can provide us with those things. Not on today’s internet, where everyone wants what you want and some people are just better at inching toward it than you are for some reason.

There are things, however, that writers need — to have; to do; to believe.

All writers need an outlet to express their creativity.

Every writer needs their own strategy for overcoming roadblocks and writing their own masterpieces.

Writers need to learn to write well for their intended purpose — e.g., all aspiring novelists need to learn how to write fiction. All hope-to-be journalists need to study the work of award-winning journalists.

Yes, we want things like more money, more influence, more reach.

But wanting isn’t necessarily what gets us those things.

Instead of focusing on the things you want, try focusing instead on the things you need in order to get the things you’re not guaranteed to get.

If you want more followers, you need to write more/better content.

If you want to make money, you need to gain real-world writing experience.

If you want to publish a book, you first need to write a publishable book.

The things we want and the things we need aren’t the same. We all want the same things — when it comes down to it, money; recognition; self-actualization. But we all need different things to accomplish our goals separately. Some of us need basic training in content creation. Others need to learn how to build up enough discipline to do a few different writing-related things at once.

No one piece of writing advice can tell you all you need to know or do in order to get what you want. But the needs of writers are more easily met, not because they’re more easily achieved, but because the steps to meet certain needs are often more straightforward.

No one REALLY knows how to get 1K followers on Twitter in a year.

But everyone knows that to have more followers on Twitter, you need to post often, share at your convenience, join conversations, and avoid spamming your stream with nonsense.

Everyone knows that the only way to grow as a writer is to write. It’s not always what you want to do, what you feel like doing. But you need to do it nonetheless.

To achieve what you desire, first meet your most basic needs as a writer. Write often. Write well. And keep going, even when it all seems pointless. One day, you’ll see it was all worth it.

Here's how to keep writing even when it gets tough.

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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 to Get Good At Writing: A Quick Guide

It’s not complicated. But it does require some patience and discipline.

1. Write a lot, all the time, even when you don’t think it’s good. Early on, it probably won’t be.

2. When you aren’t writing, read.

3. When you aren’t reading, consume story-driven content in another way, like playing a video game.

4. Take a class, join a critique group, or share your work for feedback with people you know.

5. Submit your work anywhere you can, even if there’s a chance you’ll get rejected.

6. Whenever possible, follow up rejections with “how can I do better next time” queries.

7. Go to conferences or workshops, or join online or in-person writing “support” groups.

8. Try starting a blog. Even if it doesn’t take off, it’s good practice. It’s OK to blog just for yourself.

9. Write what you know … and then make an effort to learn more so you can write more.

10. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Every writer advances and reaches milestones at their own pace.

11. Be patient. If you stick with writing, you will find your place in your niche or genre of choice.

12. Don’t give up. Improving your writing skills takes time, but anyone can do it if they keep trying.

Want to improve your writing skills? Start here.

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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.

Why I Don’t Blog About My Dog: The Problem With Self-Proclaimed ‘Experts’

I’m not a dog expert. Why do so many people think they are?

Three months ago, I welcomed a husky puppy into my home.

Since then, she has — literally — consumed my life. As is to be expected from any puppy, especially an energetic “aggressive chewer” like Izzie.

Before I made the 30-minute drive to pick her up, I did all the online research I could about husky puppies. Not just how to train them, but how to care for them, how to make them feel comfortable, how to love them. I’d never owned a dog before. I was excited, but terrified.

I assumed I was feeling like any new or soon-to-be parent might feel. My “research” really helped calm my nerves and prepare me for the first night, week, and so on. As much as even the best book or website can, anyway.

I’ve learned a lot about how to train, entertain, and care for huskies — and puppies in general — since I found myself holding a three-month-old fuzzball for the first time.

But here’s what I won’t do: Start giving advice to other soon-to-be husky owners in the form of a blog, Instagram page, or some other medium that makes me sound like I’m trying to be an expert.

Why? Because I’m not.

I have owned exactly one dog in the past 26 years. She’s not even past the worst of the “puppy stage” as I’m writing this (“Don’t eat that” is a phrase I now say 50 times a day, and I’m not exaggerating). I’m pretty confident that I’ve done plenty of things wrong in the past 12 weeks. I’ve posted more to Facebook (seeking advice from friends who know more about puppies/dogs than me) than I have in years.

I use what I have learned daily to raise, train, and love my “fur baby.” And I still seem to learn something new every day.

I couldn’t imagine taking what I think I know now and writing a blog post about it, for the sake of teaching others in my situation what to do.

But there are many people who would. Who do.

And it drives me absolutely mad.

As a health science writer, I see this in the diet and fitness “space” more than anywhere else. Someone goes on a three-month weight loss “journey” and all of a sudden they’re promoting their coaching services or nutrition advice to “help people.”

I have no problem with people giving other people advice online. It’s what I do every day. I give aspiring and working writers suggestions for how to make words happen, and they either take my suggestions to heart or they don’t.

But I do this because I’ve been publishing my work online for almost a decade. I didn’t start writing yesterday. My almost 10-year-old blog has gone through so many transformations and upgrades that it’s a miracle I didn’t give up eight, five, even two years ago.

Can I give writing advice that’s reliable and adaptable to every individual because I’m a professional, I’ve been doing it for a long time, and there’s little to no chance I’m going to hurt someone in the process? Yes.

Can I give advice on how to care for/train a husky because I’ve owned one for three months, taught her to sit and shake, and am 2 taps away from giving her her own Instagram account? No.

From the side of an advice-seeker, know who you’re getting your information from. I only visited websites providing information from long-time trainers and breeders and professional organizations I could count on to give me what I needed to keep my puppy safe, healthy, and happy. I refused to visit anyone who just happened to own a husky and blog about it.

I suppose, if someone has owned 100 huskies in their lifetime and they can somehow prove they know what they’re talking about, I’d consider it. But not likely.

And from the side of an advice-giver … you’re not an expert just because you tried something once or have been doing it for three months and it’s working for you. I know people want to feel relevant and like they’re contributing to society somehow, but please stop.

But writers — this does not mean you can’t blog about your life as a writer! That’s how this blog started. For the first four years, I was a high school and early college student with no professional writing experience. I didn’t try to tell people what to do. I just rambled about my life, about my writing struggles, about my hopes and fears and goals. It wasn’t necessarily helpful, but it was a start.

You’re free to blog about anything you want. But don’t prey on those seriously looking for real-world help. Refer them to resources they can actually use, if you aren’t qualified to give the advice yourself (and if you have to question whether or not you are, you probably aren’t).

You might be a writing expert someday. But be careful how you present yourself. Don’t claim to be an expert when you aren’t. People are desperate. They’ll trust anything. Be mindful. Be helpful, but don’t be harmful. Or annoying. Please.

Everyone wants to be an expert. Not everyone is -- yet.

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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.

14 Writing Struggles You Only Encounter When You’re Tired

Tired brains are terrifying. It’s scary up there.

1 You’re either hyper-focusing on your work or you’re playing Candy Crush. There is no in-between.

2. Everything is a distraction except the thing you’re actually supposed to be writing.

3. You start getting random ideas for things you know aren’t good but you can’t NOT write them down.

4. You’ve spelled the same word wrong five times in two paragraphs.

5. It’s like your first language is no longer your first language. Can you even grammar?

6. You’re either typing 100 words a minute or, like, 10 an hour.

7. You start using WAY TOO MANY adjectives.

8. Your brain says “Write!” but you honestly don’t know what you’re even typing right now.

9. Your usage of “like” and “that” has suddenly tripled.

10. All of a sudden your characters are plotting to commit a crime without warning you?? (?????)

11. You can’t keep your eyes open but somehow you’ve written 200 words. How?

12. Everything you write is hilarious.

13. Or it’s terrible and you start questioning whether or not you should be a writer at all.

14. Eventually, you either give up or call it done. Either way, you’re going to have a lot of proofreading to do tomorrow morning …


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.

This Is the First Step to Making Money As a Writer

It’s an important step, too.

I earned $70 after completing my first job as a freelance writer.

Not knowing any better, I’d agreed to complete a series of articles (yes, I said a SERIES) for a client for literally pennies each.

That was, as I hope you can guess, a mistake. I did a lot of work (and, later, far too many revisions) for basically no money. By the time I’d successfully completed the job, I’d decided never to work with that client again — or anyone who preyed on new freelancers who were desperate enough for work to sign a contract that would pretty much earn them negative income.

But at the time, I was elated. That was the first time someone had actually paid me to write online content.

Up until that point, I’d worked as a student journalist, an intern, and a “contributing writer” (which usually implies, as was the case for me, you don’t get paid in funds). I was 23. I had 2 academic degrees. And I was struggling to turn writing into a job, even after working with my first few clients.

There’s only one thing that got me through that — the initial phase of writing professionally, when you’re nobody, you’re working with people who only want to work with you if you’re willing to agree to the absolute minimum stipend and you’re frustrated and angry all the time.

I kept telling myself, over and over again, that it was OK to write for pennies. Even for free. Because it would not, could not, be like this forever.

The first step to earning income as a writer is understanding that you cannot make a lot of money — or any money at all — in the beginning.

Often times, it’s best to write assuming you’ll never make a comfortable living doing it. It’s not that you can’t or that many people don’t. But a lot of new writers put way too much pressure on themselves to earn a living right away. You don’t need that kind of stress. Getting your stuff out there is hard enough already.

Once I stopped stressing about my weekly income, I started making more money. Ridding myself of that burden allowed me to focus on the most important thing in that moment: Writing good content, building experience, forming relationships with clients, and learning as much as I could about writing as a craft AND as a business.

I’ve mostly left the freelancing world for a much more stable, less draining writing job. But I will never forget those first few months. That first year, even. And even the years before that, when no one would pay me, but I had to keep writing anyway.

You are going to get through it.

It’s not going to be easy.

You’re going to have days when you hate the career path you’ve chosen.

But it does get better. Not everyone is trying to squeeze words out of you for as little money as possible. There are people and businesses and publications out there who really do care about hiring people who can write good stuff consistently for long periods of time.

You will get there.

Writing for free seems like a waste of time. But in the end, it’s actually an investment you won’t regret buying into.

I can help you make it through the early stages of your writing career.

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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.