Posts

12 Reasons Perfectionists Are the Best Editors

They’re not afraid to tell you everything you’re doing “wrong.”

Advertisements

1. It’s their job to clean up messes.

2. Their only goal is to take what you’ve done and help you make it better.

3. They’re not afraid to tell you everything you’re doing “wrong.”

4. But they’re good at making you feel better about the stuff you’re doing right.

5. Fixing random typos counts as being productive instead of being a distraction.

6. Their attention to detail is just annoying enough to be useful!

7. They can help you avoid repeating mistakes.

8. They have the patience to reread the same paragraph 50 times to make sure it sounds right.

9. They would spend hours on a project to make sure it was as close to perfect as possible.

10. But they can also work quickly (and do a great job) when meeting tight deadlines.

11. Most of them actually enjoy their jobs.

12. You need us. HIRE USSSSS


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 Questioning Your Future As a Writer Is Actually a Good Thing

Some days, I do not want to be a writer.

Some days, I do not want to be a writer.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to write. I NEED to write.

But “writing” and “being a writer” are two very different things. One is mostly fun. The other often is not. One comes without obligations or true commitments. The other involves pressure and time constraints and, well … effort.

There are days I question whether I’m really built for this life. The long hours in front of a screen, the need to concentrate deeply for long stretches of time. The research, the rewriting, the unsolicited criticism …

As much as I love sitting down to write, and actually writing, I do not always love what comes along with it.

There are a lot of writers out there who write things on their own time and do not expose themselves to the pressures of deadlines and feedback and Making It. Sometimes I wish I could be one of those people again. Get a “real” job. Write only when it suited me.

But I know that’s not how I meant to do this.

I know because I often question myself. I don’t simply wake up, write for 10-12 hours, and simply assume this is where I’m supposed to be whether or not I struggle. When I do struggle, I sit back and I ask myself, out loud, “If this is so hard for you, why are you doing it? Can you stand to keep doing it? Is it worth it?”

So far, the answer has always been yes.

Because what starts out as frustration quickly turns into an opportunity to reflect not only on how I am feeling, but how I have been feeling, and how that relates to my recent work.

I think we all go through periods like this. When we just don’t know if what we’re doing is worth the struggle.

If you take the time to think about it and realize it isn’t worth it at all, well, that’s not a bad thing. You don’t have to keep doing something you hate — not forever, at least. (Yes, there are exceptions to this, but stick with me.)

And if you’ve accidentally reminded yourself why you’re doing this difficult thing — because it makes you happy? Because it brings joy to others? Because it’s all going to be worth it someday? — that’s amazing.

Questioning our motivations, checking in with ourselves, can remind us that (hopefully) what we’re doing, we’re doing for the right reasons.

But we also need to remember to breathe in the moments as they come. Enjoy the writing time for what it is right now. Take in how magical it feels to get pulled into a story and feel like you’re there …

And come back to that when you’re struggling. Remember the good times. They’ll make the bad times worth living through.


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 Reset Button

One day? Is that really all it takes?

Last week, I took a day off of work, spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon reading a book, and the rest of my waking hours watching TV, playing with my puppy, talking with friends, and resting.

This was the first time I’d spent an entire guilt-free day like this in a long time.

I do not always practice what I preach. That will not surprise most of you. I work too much. I usually don’t mind. But after a few months of working 7 days a week without breaks, you start to get tired. Your productivity starts to slow down. Your energy and motivation start to fizzle out.

It starts to get harder to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. The work you normally love … well, you don’t love it so much all of a sudden.

You’re not sad or anything.

You’re just really, really tired.

At least, that’s how I felt. Until I took a day off.

It was like I slammed my first down on a reset button, and everything changed for the better.

One day? Is that really all it takes?

For me, maybe. One good night’s sleep, one day away from a screen, a desk, a structured schedule. That might not be enough for some people. They might need three days or a week.

I was amazed, though, at how differently I felt the day after my day of rest. Suddenly, it was a lot easier to come up with new ideas. I felt more motivated, and energized, to do my work. I missed being able to relax, but who wouldn’t?

I won’t exaggerate and say I was looking forward to jumping back into my work. But it was definitely a lot easier, and I didn’t feel like I had to drag myself out of bed to start the day (I mean, besides the fact that it’s in the 30s (F) now when I get up and that’s not fun, ever).

You can’t expect everything to be fixed in just one day. But whether you’re religious or not, there’s a reason a day of rest was built into the Jewish and Christian cultures way back then. We’re not built to spend all our waking hours working. It isn’t good for us.

I suppose, however you use your downtime, what matters most is that you’re using it. Whether it takes one day or many days, we all need rest. Whether you plan ahead or make it spontaneous, your mind and body need some time to recharge. Without work, without screens, without social media or stress.

You’ll be glad you took a break. Just make sure you remember to come back from it eventually.


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.

Can You Go Back to a Book You Never Finished Writing?

I WANNA FINISH IT SO BAD!

Yesterday, I spent most of my day reading an unfinished book series I’d almost forgotten I’d started.

This was years ago — enough of them have passed that I’d completely forgotten I’d started writing a sequel to the unfinished first book and NEVER FINISHED THAT ONE EITHER.

Now, I’m not saying that this mess of a draft was “good.” But I was so intrigued by this forgotten story that I felt my heart break a little when I went to scroll to the next page and THERE WASN’T ONE BECAUSE I STOPPED WRITING IT.

I spent enough time with these characters that, if I could, I would go back and finish the trilogy I had set out to complete, even just for my own satisfaction.

There are many reasons I can never go back to it, though — no matter how much I desperately want to.

Reason 1: I’ve grown. Not just as a writer, but as a person. At the time of writing, I needed to tell this story, to help myself cope with some things going on in my life. I no longer need to cope with those things, and in many ways, major plot points feel as though I have outgrown them. And honestly, I’d really rather not relive a lot of that pain if I don’t have to.

Reason 2: I have a lot of things to write that are new and, let’s be honest, much more important. Yes, I could spend the next year of my life working only on these books until they were finished. But then I’d be abandoning everything I’m currently working on, and I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest.

Reason 3: There comes a time when you have to let go of the projects that helped you along your journey as a writer. You have to accept them as part of what was, and leave them as part of your history to make room for the things you need now to grow from where you’re at. You can’t keep going back to your first loves. You can do better. You must.

There is something special about the writing projects that made us who we are. We stick with stories in the long-term because we love them, care for them, enjoy them, and want others to experience them someday. But the reality is, we can’t finish everything we start. Life happens. Our interests change.

Going back to those old flames is like rereading our favorite books over and over again … only our favorite books, and nothing else. It’s tempting, but it’s not going to be a good use of our time.

Remember: everything we write leaves a mark on us somehow. There’s no law that says I can’t use trace elements of these unfinished books in future projects to, even if only for myself, keep them alive.

Plus, apparently I had it in my head who the villain in this series was all along, and as I was reading, I COULD NOT REMEMBER WHO IT WAS.

UGH.


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 Easy Ways to Support Writers (and Other Artists) Online

Give their work a chance.

1. Buy one of their things. Just one. One time. Every $1 counts.

2. Give their work a chance. It’s OK if you don’t like it — but you’ll never know until you try.

3. Leave them nice, short comments sometimes. One “great job!” can go a long way.

4. Ask them questions about what they’re working on — be curious.

5. Turn your ad blockers off while on their sites :)

6. Share their stuff on social media. You don’t even have to say anything, just share it.

7. If you really like something they made, reach out and tell them so!

8. If you read their stuff, take a few minutes and give it a nice review!

9. Pledge $1 a month to their Patreon (if they have one). Even if you don’t want the perks. $1. That’s it.

10. If you don’t like it, that’s OK, but please be kind — both to the artist, their work, and their fans.

11. If you’re not interested in following them, try recommending them to someone who might be.

12. Sometimes, just hitting the like button on a post makes them feel really good for a minute.

Most Writers Have No Idea What They’re Doing

If you feel like you’re just wandering around, writing whatever comes into your head, and have started worrying that you’re doing everything wrong and don’t even know if writing is what you’re supposed to be doing at all … you are not alone.

It’s true. Most of us are totally clueless.

Don’t worry — I don’t mean most of us don’t know how to write a good story. The average aspiring writer has consumed enough material (books, movies, TV, etc) and has tried to write enough things that they have a pretty good idea of what makes a good story and what doesn’t.

But here’s the problem with “being a writer”: your job doesn’t end when you’re done writing the story.

What the heck are you supposed to do then?

Oh, of course there are guides out there. Books that tell you how to increase your chances of getting published. Websites dedicated to teaching you how to be better than every other writer you’re competing against (if that’s possible). Blogs that try to give you a realistic perspective on how hard writing is but also encourage you to keep trying anyway (like this one!).

But … is what everyone tells you is the “right” way to do it REALLY the “right” way?

And … what if you do all the things the guides say and you STILL don’t get published or even get a written rejection in response to any submissions?

Here’s the good news: If you feel like you’re just wandering around, writing whatever comes into your head, and have started worrying that you’re doing everything wrong and don’t even know if writing is what you’re supposed to be doing at all … you are not alone.

I’m pretty sure that most of us at least have moments or days when we feel this way. If we don’t feel like it 95 percent of the time.

Why? Because this whole writing thing is complicated. Even though a lot of us like to pretend we have it all together and are all following the same general rules, we’re all basically just doing everything we think might work until a few things actually do.

But maybe that’s not a terrible thing.

There’s nothing wrong with trying. As long as you make an effort to change your habits/strategies when they stop being effective.

And not trying anything is a lot worse than trying to figure out what works, one thing at a time. I refuse to call people writers if they aren’t actually, you know … writing.

Who cares if it feels like you’re not doing it right? The only way to figure out what works for you is to do a bunch of different things while simultaneously resisting the urge to quit.

It’s also important not to worry about what other people are doing … at least so much so that you’re doing less work because you’re too fixated on everyone else. Pay attention. Be informed and involve yourself in the community. But don’t obsess. Do your thing. If it’s not working, feel free to ask for advice.

It’s OK to be unsure, to wonder if you’re going in the right direction or not. Eventually, we all, somehow, figure it out. Some of us even try to take what we’ve learned and help other people slowly figure it out, too.


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 15 Worst Things About Starting to Write a New Book

Starting.

1. Starting.

2. Naming your main character.

3. Trying to remember what you named your main character 3 pages later.

4. Naming all the rest of your characters. ESPECIALLY their last names.

5. Typing too fast because you’re so excited and spelling literally every word wrong, probably.

6. Not being able to tell anyone. (If you do, they’ll ask questions, and YOU’RE NOT READY FOR THAT.)

7. Remembering how terrible you still are at writing dialogue.

8. You get like 10 pages in and realize you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

9. But it’s probably fine because you’ll basically feel like this for the next 300+ pages anyway.

10. Second-guessing yourself all of a sudden. Is your opening scene, like, super boring? Should you rewrite it? Should you start over even though you’ve barely even started??

11. Suddenly forgetting how to form coherent sentences in your chosen writing language for some reason.

12. Wanting to write the end. Starting to write the end … even though you haven’t even written the beginning. IS THIS EVEN ALLOWED?

13. Realizing you already hate one of your characters even though you’re supposed to. How are you going to put up with them for all the rest of these pages??

14. Not having a set deadline even though … having one would actually kind of help …

15. Realizing you’re in too deep now, there’s no turning back, you’re really doing this … good luck!


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.

Writers Complain a Lot … Do Any of Us Actually Enjoy Writing?

Is writing really as torturous as it seems?

Writers don’t make enough money for the amount of work we do. We’re under-appreciated. Writing is hard. Getting published is harder. We’re tired. We’re hungry. WE WANT ICE CREAM.

Complain. Complain. Complain.

Do any of us actually LIKE what we do?

Yes. Of course we enjoy writing. Some of us, anyway.

But the reason there’s often so much negativity surrounding this profession and the craft and the people in it is the same reason anyone complains about anything.

We want to feel understood. We scream into the void because we want other writers to hear us.

Online writing communities are popular for a reason. They’re spaces for writers to share their work, build each other up, and encourage each other to keep going.

But they’re also a place where writers can share their struggles and issues and just straight-up vent about what they’re dealing with in their writing lives.

This can sometimes make it seem like all we do, all day long, is complain about writing. I know that’s how it feels when I tweet about x problem three days in a row (eh …).

Earlier today I actually sat back and asked myself, “Do you actually like writing? Because you sure haven’t been acting like it lately.”

Do I love writing? Sure. It makes me who I am, and I enjoy it in the moment. It’s just so easy to let other life stressors trickle in and sour your attitude.

I’m not always the most positive person when it comes to writing, despite trying to always spin my blog posts in a way that’s helpful while remaining realistic and honest. I get frustrated, just like you. I get discouraged and upset and I doubt that I’m cut out for this often mean, twisted game.

But I really want to try to do better. To not complain so much. After all, there are a lot of people out there who don’t have the luxuries many of us do. They don’t have blogs, writing jobs, difficult-to-handle clients … they’d give anything to have the problems we have.

I know every level of writing, if you want to look at it that way, comes with its own challenges. We all feel our own respective challenges deeply and we all struggle in our own ways.

We just need to remember why we do this. Why we write. If writing didn’t matter to us, we could very easily do something else and not have to do the parts of it we hate. But we don’t. Because despite the struggle, deep down, we love it. We want it. We NEED it.

Maybe we complain because we love it, and wish it were easier, even though it never will be.

I guess I can live 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 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 Can’t Write About That! It’s Too ___.”

Does it matter?

Our brains will find any and every excuse possible to justify why we shouldn’t, or can’t, do something.

The brains of writers are no exception.

You’ve probably found yourself hesitating before writing something — or not even writing it at all — because something about it just seems … wrong.

You can’t write it! You can’t! Because it’s too …

Because it’s too … what?

Boring?

Weird?

Overdone?

Stupid?

Does it matter?

Here’s the problem with this mindset: It implies that everything you write has to be, somehow, perfect. Not too boring. Not too weird. Not too overdone. A GOOD FLIPPIN’ IDEA.

But guess what, fellow writers? Most of the things you write, in the beginning, will be very boring. They’ll be strange (not necessarily in a good way) and full of tropes and cliches. They probably won’t make much sense … and that’s because they aren’t supposed to.

They call it a first draft for a reason. A reader will (hopefully) never see your first draft. They won’t know how boring it was. How much of a mess your story was the first time you dared to let it all spill out on paper and become something real.

All writers doubt themselves. All writers worry that the project they want to start working on — or have already started, or have recently finished — will not be good enough. This is normal.

What is not normal is letting these roadblocks stop you from writing. That gets you nothing but a draft that will never become anything else.

You have to keep writing … or start writing anyway. Even if what you’re producing right now feels boring, or weird, or like a thousand writers have already told this exact story before.

The only way to progress, and move a story from these milestones that make you feel unsure all the way to something you can genuinely be proud of, is to keep going. Keep writing. It’s really as simple — and as complicated — as that.

Don’t worry about fixing a broken thing when it was never even whole to begin with. An unfinished draft — heck, an idea you haven’t even written down yet — isn’t a complete thing. You can’t make it better until you finish it. And you won’t finish it if you keep overwhelming yourself with thoughts about how imperfect it is.

Just. Write. The thing.

Worry about making it more exciting later.

Worry about making it the right kind of weird later.

Worry about adding new twists on an unoriginal idea later.

For now, just get the idea out of your head. Give yourself something to work with. And allow yourself to create imperfectly. Because that’s the only way you can learn to take something not that great and turn it 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 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.

Your Answers to These 3 Questions Will Determine Whether or Not Writing is Your True Calling

What makes a writer isn’t their ideas, their fame, or their salary.

Have you ever had one of those days when you just want to throw your keyboard/laptop across the room and quit writing for good? Or you’re exhausted because of how hard you’ve been working lately and don’t even know if it’s worth it anymore?

Yeah. We all have. And it’s not a fun thought spiral to slide down. But if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll be able to decide the right way to proceed without (as much) stress. I hope.

Here are a few questions that might help you decide if writing is a career worth pursuing for you.

Do you dream of being a writer but rarely actually write?

Do you have a bunch of ideas for stories? Do you tell your close friends about them whenever you get the chance? But do you also have a hard time actually sitting down to write? Do you do a lot of dreaming, but not a lot of work?

If this sounds like you, the writing life might not suit you as well as you think. There’s a big difference between saying you’re going to write things and actually writing things. From where I stand, only people who actually write are considered “writers.” People who talk about writing without actually writing … you’re not quite there yet. But you could be. If you actually start writing.

BUT — if this isn’t a problem for you, and you write fairly regularly (despite the usual challenges and hiatuses), it’s pretty safe to say you’re on the right track. Keep going!

Are you trying to be the next J.K. Rowling?

Because it’s not going to happen.

I’m not saying you can’t or shouldn’t dream big. I’m not saying you’re incapable of doing great things with your word-arranging superpowers. But writing should not be about trying to be “famous.”

Yes, we all want our stories read. We would all love to have huge, loyal audiences. But the worst thing you can do when you’re getting into this profession is think it’s easy or even possible to succeed as much as some authors have. Not because you’re bad at writing or anything, but because setting your expectations too high can and will lead to disappointment. That drives a lot of people to quit before they’ve ever accomplished anything.

If all you want out of this whole writing thing is fame … in all honesty, you’re probably not going to make it very far. As soon as the game gets tough, you’re not going to have something tangible to hang onto.

You need a goal that’s still challenging, but more easily attainable. Maybe start with trying to get a book published before striving to sell a million copies of a bestseller.

Would you keep writing even if you never made a cent off of it?

This is possibly the most important question you’ll have to answer when determining — or reminding yourself of — whether or not writing is really “your thing.”

Because the reality is, for many years, you may never see a single paycheck. It does, of course, depend on the type of writing you’re doing or hope to do in the future. Until I started writing for newspapers and magazines, I never made even a dollar. I wanted to publish books, and you don’t make any money doing that until you publish something.

The biggest test of dedication is honestly admitting whether or not you’d keep doing it if it couldn’t support you financially. If I had to get a “real” job and could only write for free for the rest of my life, I’d be okay with that. Why? Because writing isn’t something I can “stop” doing.

If you’d keep writing even if money weren’t on the table, you’re much more likely to put in the amount of work necessary to make a living. It might take years — that’s not unheard of. You might hit a dozen roadblocks along the way. Making money is nice — preferred, even. But it’s not going to happen right away — if at all.

It’s those who write for the love of it first, and everything else second, that end up earning the most in the long-term.


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.