12 Important Reasons You Haven’t Quit Writing (… Yet)

This is what makes you who you are.

1. You’ve had the same story stuck in your head for a LONG time and you just need to get it out.

2. You are not a quitter! You are too headstrong for that! NOPE! NOT YOU!

3. YOU ARE SO CLOSE TO FINISHING YOUR CURRENT WORK IN PROGRESS!

4. You … you really, really kind of like it??!

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10 Things I’ve Learned About Writing In 2019

It’s been a year of learning for sure.

1. Even if you have been writing for a long time and you think you know all there is to know, you are one hundred percent wrong.

2. It’s not always “writer’s block” that stops you from writing. Sometimes — okay, many times — it’s something completely out of your control.

3. There are going to be times you start writing and know you’re not doing your best work, but you have to keep pushing forward anyway to get to the good stuff.

4. Also, distractions? Yeah, you’re not immune to them no matter how much you think you are a master at focusing on even one task. (I just got sidetracked for almost a full hour in the middle of writing this post. It’s real.)

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What Is ‘Good Enough,’ Anyway?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

How do you know if you are a “good” writer or not?

I used to ask myself this question a lot, much more so in the months leading up to my first full-time writing job offer when I was getting rejected and talked down to so often that I almost gave up and started looking for a “real” job.

I even asked a few people I trusted if they thought I was “good at writing” or not, mostly because I had no idea what I was doing “wrong” and needed some kind of external validation that I wasn’t completely out of line in believing someone might actually hire me to write words on their behalf at some point.

But there is a reason no one ever had a decent answer for me — at the very least, I understand, in full, the error of my ways many years later and won’t make a similar mistake again.

What does it mean to be “good” at something? You could ask a room full of people this question and get different answers from just about every single one of them. But the reason we are so bad at judging our own skill and worth is because we’re just universally bad at judging ourselves. You almost always aim either too high or too low in either direction, and well, that’s not helpful at all, is it?

Even less helpful is the expectation that “good enough” — as in, will I ever be good enough at writing to get published? — actually means something, or that it means something simple. It doesn’t. Not really.

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What a Writer Really Wants

When the thing you love to do becomes the thing you have to do, everything changes.

When the thing you love to do becomes the thing you have to do, everything changes. Yet nothing really changes at all, does it?

It’s not at all surprising that getting paid to write is both the thing we all dream about as well as the thing we all dread. Some of the reasons are obvious. Some are not.

The biggest roadblock when it comes to writing and work isn’t finding the time to do it, or conserving enough energy to finish it … or even taking this mess of a thing you made and convincing someone it might be good enough to sell.

These are all things we commonly struggle with as writers, sure. There’s no denying that.

But the biggest struggle of all — the one so many don’t even realize they might be struggling with — is remembering that beneath all the work, the hours of effort, the days and months and years of hoping, and the sweat and tears and sorrow and joy and everything between, there is only one thing that really keeps a writer moving forward.

It’s the most important thing. And the thing we so often forget about.

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‘Writer’s Block’ Is More Than Just Staring At a Blank Page

You might not even realize you’re struggling.

Hi there! I wrote this post six months ago and avoided publishing it because it was written in a tone and using some wording I’m not proud of. However, due to some personal issues, I don’t have a new post ready for you today. So I offer this to you this morning instead, in the hopes you can pick out the general intended message, and that we can all learn from this — that sometimes it’s OK to admit you didn’t do your best and you can and will do better tomorrow.

The classic picture of what too many people call “writer’s block” is simple. An aspiring writer, head full of ideas, sits down in front of their laptop and eagerly opens a blank document. They’re excited! They’re ready! This is The One! This is The Book that’s going to be read by millions!

But then they realize that in order for this to happen they actually have to start writing. And so they stare at the blank page in front of them motionless as if waiting for the ideas to leap off the page. They continue to stare at that nothingness, that quickly fading hope of a story, until they finally give up. They’re “blocked.” It’s hopeless. They close their laptop and hope for a better outcome tomorrow.

This is not the only way that writing does not happen.

While there will be times the words just won’t come to you the way you want them to, and on many of those occasions you won’t be able to do a single thing about it, more often than not your time spent not writing will not be something out of your control at all. Quite the opposite, actually.

As much as I despise the things “writer’s block” implies — that there’s nothing that can be done and that it’s OK not to write whenever you’re feeling blocked, and so on — I’m going to continue using it throughout this post because it’s the term most people will readily understand.

If it’s more than staring at a blank page, why is that how so many people see it? Because there are no emotions or bad behaviors associated with sitting at a desk staring at a screen. People don’t like to acknowledge that the reasons they’re having trouble writing run deep. People haven’t learned — and hopefully will, gently and kindly — that in order to write with feeling, you have to be fully in touch with your whole self, the good as well as the bad.

This is the reality of creative blockage. There is something in the way. There is always something in the way. But it’s not always obvious, and that’s the biggest problem of them all.

Sometimes writer’s block manifests as avoidance. You don’t ever even get to the point where you’re sitting down staring at a blank page — you never reach the chair. Instead, you continuously consult excuse after excuse, disordering your priorities, procrastinating, saying over and over, “I know I should write,” but you don’t.

Avoidance as a means of “dealing with” writer’s block can look different for different people. A writer might worry that her idea isn’t “original” enough, so she keeps moving her writing task further and further down her to-do list, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and even going through and giving away half her worldly possessions all before even thinking about touching her manuscript again.

Or, you might stay in bed later or go to bed earlier because you’re “tired” when in reality those are your peak writing times and you just don’t want to face the page. (I still do this on occasion, I am just as guilty as you are, so there’s no point in denying it. I see you.)

You WANT to write, you have the time and the energy to do it, but you don’t do it. The second you even think about putting in the intense effort required to do the work, the moment writing begins to feel like a chore, you give up. “I’m feeling blocked today,” you shrug. “I guess I won’t write.”

Do you understand now, why “writer’s block” is such a terrible way to describe the struggle to write? It doesn’t solve any problems. It doesn’t even imply that these mystery problems can be solved.

Am I implying that all writers who are struggling are behaving poorly or that they’re lazy? Obviously not. I’m here to help you, remember? In this case, helping you means feeding you hard-to-swallow truths. Sometimes writing is hard and that’s just a reality you have to figure out how to work through. Sometimes you’re just dragging your feet and throwing silent tantrums and you need someone to talk you out of it.

In a nutshell: Don’t blame writer’s block for your problems. And don’t just assume it’s not writer’s block if you’re not trying to write. Be honest with yourself. It’s time to face what’s going on inside so that you can face what you need to pour out onto that page.


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.


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Why You Can’t Wait Until You’re ‘Feeling Inspired’ to Write

Just because you don’t “feel like” writing doesn’t mean any writing you do during that time will be “bad.”

When I hit the 50,000-word mark co complete another National Novel Writing Month this year, I fully expected to put my unfinished draft to the side so that I could focus on other (and in all honestly, much more important) things. That’s usually how it goes every December. I take a short break, not because I’m sick of writing, but because the end of the year in online publishing is crazy busy and so are the holidays.

So the night after I hit that goal and went to sleep feeling stress free and satisfied, I was surprised to wake up in the middle of the night and realize it hadn’t been a noise or a worry or a 55-pound ball of fluff that had woken me up, but instead an idea. A really good idea!

This doesn’t happen to me very often. I’m one of those writers who is much more inspired to write after I have already started writing. So to wake up from quite a restful, wonderful sleep knowing exactly which direction my book needed to go in next was both unusual and pleasant.

Did I have time to keep working on my book? I really didn’t. I really shouldn’t have. I still shouldn’t be working on it, at least right now.

But this was an idea I could not ignore — one that I simply knew I could not leave to fend for itself in the chaotic depths of my memory. This was an idea I did not want to lose. And I knew that might mean I was going to have to make some extremely tough choices.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Continue reading “Why You Can’t Wait Until You’re ‘Feeling Inspired’ to Write”

How I Wrote 50,000 Words In 30 Days Even Though I ‘Didn’t Have Time’

You often have a lot more time and willpower than you think you do. You just have to know how to use it.

Time is the greatest opponent of almost every living writer, whether you know it or not.

We like to think we know how to manage it. But we don’t. Not really.

Yes, you CAN write when you don’t think you have enough time. The question is, will you?

I’m not going to spend this post talking about avoiding distractions and giving certain things up because this is really a given at this point. I will talk more about it in the future because I know many of you struggle with these things and I am clearly here to help in any way I can.

But for now, let’s focus on a few things I know you don’t want to talk about — but we are going to talk about them anyway: Creating schedules, how to stay on track when you fall behind, and why “writing only when you feel like it” usually does not work out in a writer’s favor.

Yes, I wrote a lot this month. I’ve written a lot this year. I have developed plenty of strategies along the way to make sure I don’t let bad time management be my excuse. This does not mean I am perfect.

I struggled just as much as the average person. My “secrets” aren’t anything magical or specifically unique to me and me alone. But by sharing what I have learned, and will hopefully continue to learn for many years to come, perhaps I can help you reach the writing goals you feel are too far out of your reach.

Continue reading “How I Wrote 50,000 Words In 30 Days Even Though I ‘Didn’t Have Time’”

12 Tips to Help You Keep Writing Through the End of the Year

The holidays approacheth, which means it’s time to relax and enjoy. But you still might be able to squeeze in some writing here and there. Here’s how.

1. Have fun! This is the best time of year to take a completely casual approach to writing and focus on something that just makes you happy and does not stress you out. Most writing, most of the time, is work. It doesn’t have to be right now. Enjoy this. Play with your words. You have earned the right.

2. Don’t try to write every day. Everyone loses momentum around the holidays, especially if you make it a point to wind down before the New Year. You should continue writing as much as you can, but this is not the time to push yourself too hard unless you absolutely have to. Sometimes, especially now, less really is more.

3. Unless you absolutely have to (deadlines do, unfortunately, often still exist around the holidays), make it a point not to write when you should be spending time with family or friends or enjoying the holidays. Write on your own time so that you can enjoy both things separately — but make time for both, if you can.

4. Motivate yourself by reading as many books as you can and want to read. If it helps, choose a few books that align with the current genre you are writing in and let other writers’ accomplishments fuel your creative energy. Some people find that reading in different genres helps them, too. A mix of both probably won’t hurt.

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Dreams Don’t Change — Priorities Do

I wrote this blog post directly after consuming massive quantities of food in one sitting so if there are typos I’m leaving them DEAL WITH IT

What happens to dreams that quietly fade into the background?

The hope is that they do not disappear forever — or that at the very least they return to the front of your mind and become your main focus, the main driving force behind your work, again.

There are many things that often arise that “get in the way” of a writer’s dreams. Responsibilities like jobs and family. Distractions like Netflix and Disney+. Uncertainties and insecurities like whether or not you will ever be able to write anything good enough that other people will want to read it.

What many people unfortunately do not realize — creative people included — is that even though you might turn your attention to something other than the dream you once held with such importance in your life, this does not mean you have officially given up on that dream or that your dreams “changed.”

To be clear: Sometimes people do decide they would rather go about achieving a specific goal in a different way than they had originally planned. But this still speaks to how strongly we tend to hold on to the things we truly want. Even though we might spend a lot of time focusing on something that is not our direct dream — like a day job instead of a side hustle — this does not mean our dreams are dead. Or that we have to forget about them forever.

Continue reading “Dreams Don’t Change — Priorities Do”

Writers: Find the 1 Thing That Helps You Survive

I hope you find it. I really do.

It is a very rough time in my writing life right now. I am doing a lot of work. A lot of it isn’t landing. Pieces I spend hours working on aren’t getting viewed. This only makes me work harder, which hasn’t changed a thing, forcing me to question whether I should even bother continuing.

It’s not just Novelty Revisions that has left me in a state of chaotic turmoil lately, but it’s certainly a contributor. Which is a real shame, because I love what I do here and my only hope is that other people will too.

I put hours of work into this blog, and have for over 10 years, and have done so almost daily for over four. So I think it’s completely acceptable and normal to feel discouraged and upset knowing I basically have nothing whatsoever to show for it.

Except that’s not totally true, is it? After all, I haven’t given up yet, and I don’t believe I plan on doing so anytime soon. The reality, however, is that I have learned a lot about this niche over the past decade, and about writing and writers in general. And if it all has taught me anything, it’s that most of your writing life is going to be spent working very hard for very little gain. But this is the way. This is how things are, and how they always will be.

So how does a writer continue writing knowing this is the case? I’ll tell you how I do it, if that counts.

Continue reading “Writers: Find the 1 Thing That Helps You Survive”