How My Science Degree Made Me a Better Creative Writer

I was encouraged to focus on only one subject. In many ways, I’m glad I didn’t listen.


When I was a double major, going for both a BA and a BS, I was often asked, as all college students are, what I was going to do with my degrees. Unfortunately – sometimes jokingly and other times disapprovingly – I was occasionally encouraged to choose one or the other. Encouraged to focus on only one subject. In many ways, I’m glad I didn’t listen.

Earning a science degree taught me almost more about writing than my English degree did. Here’s why I’m grateful for my BS.

It taught me how to be concise, but detailed

In chemistry, at least at the college level, you aren’t allowed to just write that a chemical changed from clear to blue. You have to be able to explain, in simple terms, why that chemical changed, what kind of change it was and the implications of that change. And there isn’t always room in lab reports to write long, detailed explanations. You have to make it short and simple, yet as detailed as possible. You don’t get points with literary agents for being long-winded in your prose. Quite the opposite, actually.

The same goes for social sciences. You have to be able to understand the theories behind behaviors and patterns. That is how I learned to write about more real, believable people. That is why I fell in love with the concept of characters.

It showed me why people do the things they do

When you don’t know much about psychology or sociology, you fall into the trap of writing too many stock characters and stereotypical plot lines. You write with the belief that someone with a mental illness is dangerous. You write thinking formula romance novels are realistic (uh … maybe). It’s not your fault: you don’t even realize you’re doing it. But it happens, and it’s something successful writers grow out of, as long as they learn how people actually work – and why.

Good writing is realistic and believable, and before taking science courses, I’m not sure I really understood how to write dramatic stories that weren’t so stereotypically tragic it hurt. All my characters were the same. They had the same issues and dealt with them the same ways. I can’t say I’ve completely turned that around, but I’ve gotten better.

It made me a more well-rounded person

I loved my English classes and my professors, but I never learned as much about the world we live in as I did in the classes I took in the physical and social sciences. In my English courses I learned how to analyze and communicate, but over on the other side of the academic spectrum I learned the backgrounds of the literature I was analyzing – the history, the facts, the laws, the theories. Some of the things we read and wrote about, I never would have understood as well as I did without the added knowledge those science classes gave me.

I also had to volunteer a lot for service hours, so I spent a lot of time helping people and listening to them and traveling places, which is where the ideas from some of my favorite original stories have come from.

I’m glad I went to college. I’m glad I didn’t skip out on the opportunity to learn just so I could spend all my time writing. But I’m especially grateful for my science professors. You taught me how to write less and say more. You showed me how the real world works. You let me be a thousand things and know a thousand facts without judging me. I’m a better person for that – and a better writer, too.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT – You Have Hundreds of Imaginary Friends and You Didn’t Even Know It

I have always had a theory that characters are more than made-up pieces of an equally fictional story.


This year, I made myself a promise. Many promises, actually. I created a list of specific goals I wanted to accomplish before the end of the year, as I normally do. But this year was different. This list was different. On it, I declared I was going to write an ebook. A nonfiction book about something related to writing … I just wasn’t sure what.

And then, one day early in January, I figured it out.

I have always had a theory that characters are more than made-up pieces of an equally fictional story. To me, characters are much more like people. I know I’m not the only one who talks to them, argues with them and eventually gives into their pleas to have a story end THIS way instead of the way I had originally planned.

But characters are not quite like ordinary people. We’re the only ones who can see and interact with our own characters as we’re creating stories, for example. We use our imaginations to construct people who do not exist in the real world.

So in a way, when we create characters, we are also creating imaginary friends.

Imaginary friends who are REALLY, REALLY hard to please. Or are they?

So I took this concept and created something I think is pretty awesome out of it. And in just a few weeks, you are going to be able to see the finished product for yourself.

Imaginary Friends in Extraordinary Places: How to Cooperate with Characters Who Know Your Stories Better Than You Do is a short and fun book about creativity, imagination and how to handle that really confusing moment when you want your story to go one way, but your characters have something completely different in mind.

Every time we create a new character, we gain a new friend for life. Our relationship with that friend can make or break a story. In just a little over 20 pages (I said short, I meant really short), I’ll help you start to think more deeply about who your characters really are, how they think and what they want from you.

You can pre-order your copy of the ebook for $1.99 here.

Characters are one of my favorite subjects to write about when it comes to fiction and creative writing, and I can’t wait to discuss the topics addressed in the book more in-depth with you on this blog.

But it’s not quite time yet. So until then, click away from this tab and get back to writing.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Image courtesy of Meg Dowell.

NaNoWriMo 2015: I Thought This Would Eventually Get Old


I first discovered National Novel Writing Month by accident.

If I remember correctly, it was either a Youtuber I watched way back when (ah 2008) or John Green that drew my attention to this crazy awesome thing I had never heard of before (or a Youtuber talking about John Green talking about NaNoWriMo, which is more likely the case).

According to my profile, I joined the website on October 28, 2008. Three days before NaNoWriMo started. Procrastination at its finest, I suppose.

I was a junior in high school at this point, so to me, this was a huge deal. I was excited. I emailed everyone I knew (we still did that back then too!). I had sort of written a book before … if you could even call them that. They were novellas and they were awful. Not that this first ‘real’ novel I wrote was any better.

But I had this crazy dream of being a writer. So I figured I’d give this whole writing 50,000 words in a month thing a try. I didn’t really care whether I won or lost. I really just wanted a good excuse to write instead of doing my homework (yep).

Yet somehow, I fell in love with writing a ton of words in a short amount of time. So much so that, on Thanksgiving that year, I won. I even managed to finish my whole book within that word limit. I finished my first ‘book’ and won my first WriMo at the same time.

Which is probably why the picture you see above happened. It was a big deal.

My biggest worry as the years have passed is that winning will become less and less of a ‘big deal.’ I use WriMos as a way to jumpstart my ideas and force myself to write (if you’re interested in more of my thoughts on this, check out this post). I don’t do it to win. But as soon as I get into a rhythm of writing a certain number of words per day, it just becomes inevitable.

It has taken me years to build up this much self-discipline when it comes to writing. That’s the most important thing I like to highlight when I do talk about this. I don’t talk about winning to make other people feel bad. Because here’s the thing: whether you write five words or 50,000 this month, you worked on a novel. YOU WROTE STUFF. Not everyone can say they’ve done that.

I’ve just always figured that at some point, winning would stop feeling so great. Because of my lack of a full-time job (sigh) and this discipline and really just a love for writing and stories and talking with voices in my head that aren’t really there (hehe), I’ve won every year I’ve tried. I won today. I just did it.

And you know what? It feels just as good today as it did all those years ago.

No one’s lifting me up in the air and embarrassing the living crap out of me (weeee), but I still did it.

There’s just something about writing because you love it, because you love your story and your characters and you just want to write all day every day forever, that makes all the work you’ve done wroth it. Big accomplishments, small accomplishments, they all matter. And you should never, ever be afraid to be proud of what you’ve done.

If you’re still writing – KEEP GOING! I believe you CAN do this.

If you’ve claimed your spot in the winner’s circle – CONGRATS!

And if you started writing a book this month, and have tried, but have fallen behind or you just can’t do it this year, KUDOS to you for doing your best. It’s not about winning. It’s about writing. It’s about transforming the ideas inside your head into beautiful, tangible, lovable words.

Winning feels great. It always has. It always will.

But writing? Writing is the reward. Getting to put time into your story, that’s the best part about it.

Thank you for sticking with me, as always. I’ll continue updating you weekly on the progress of this story. I hope to have a first draft finished by the end of the year.

Fingers crossed.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Meg Dowell.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Why You Don’t Need to Know Everything About Your Characters (Yet)

TJ Scott Silhouette Photography
TJ Scott Silhouette Photography

I have been creating stories basically my whole life. I say “creating” because, before I really knew how to write down the stories in my head, I did what any other kid my age would do: I made them up by acting them out. Barbies, Beanie Babies, dress-up: I have all these things to thank for getting me through the early years, until I knew enough about language and forming words to start writing those ideas down and saving them for later.

Yet still, after all this time, I’m amazed at how the same brain somehow manages to come up with different stories that are complete opposites of each other, in every way possible.

I have had the idea for my current novel in my head for awhile, and had to wait until this month to begin allowing it to play out on paper, because I was working on finishing up another story. I didn’t realize before embarking on this new literary journey how much I would end up depending on character development and dialogue to move the story along.

My last book was a YA sci-fi/adventure story, which meant it relied heavily on critical events and the surrounding environment as elements to give the story sustenance. I liked that change, because I usually write in the contemporary YA genre and hadn’t had to think quite so much about imaginary places and mechanisms of the future before.

It was a nice change. But it happened, it’s behind me, and honestly, I’m glad to be back writing in a genre I’m more comfortable in. It’s not that I don’t believe writers need to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones. I just, I guess, write a lot better in the genre I got my start under in the first place.

For some reason, though, I’m having quite a time adjusting to writing such a character-based story again. It takes place in a small town, both the alternating narrators are teenagers and they and everyone they know end up crossing paths with each other at different points as the story moves along. So basically, it’s my life seven years ago, except much more dramatic and none of the characters are based on me or my life (not exactly).

So why is it so hard to adjust? There are a few key events that the story keeps leading up to: a school play being the major one. But while there’s commentary from both narrators throughout and a few hints to some back story here and there, most of it is just talking. Sitting at lunch, talking. At a pizza place or coffee shop, talking. At first this worried me. Is it boring? Is this even exciting enough to keep me entertained? But somehow it is. Because somehow, all these characters have appeared that even I don’t know enough about, and with the conclusion of every scene, I want to know more about them.

Does that mean the reader would, theoretically, feel the same way? And, more importantly, does it mean I’m somehow doing this gradual character development thing right for once?

As much as I’m all for planning and outlining, I don’t really like the idea of detailed character sketches (writing out traits and facts about the characters in your stories). I think it’s important to know their general personality and how they might typically respond to certain events, but I don’t think it’s necessary to know every single detail about them.

I think, if you don’t know your characters as well as you want to, in a way, that’s a good thing. Building a story and creating characters is sort of like building a relationship with people who don’t exist. The longer you spend with them, the further you get into your story, the more they will reveal pieces of themselves to you. You might use all those pieces and you might not. It’s a journey.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy learning things about my characters as I go along. It makes me feel more connected, and it’s quite possible that if I can convey that ever-growing connection as I’m writing, my readers will sense that, and feel as though they’re making new friends, too.

Not that I ever expect anyone to read my stories. But it could happen.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of TJ Scott.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to Add a Time Jump Into Your Story (the Right Way)


Stories are different from real life in a lot of ways. One major difference is that stories don’t move from one day to the next in chronological order. Stories cover significant events, which sometimes occur days, weeks, months, maybe even years apart. You might need to implement a time jump into your story, whether you want to or not.

We’re not talking time travel here, not exactly. Some stories need to skip ahead from one scene to another and aren’t meant to cover only a short span of time, such as one day or a few consecutive weeks.

If this is the case for your story, don’t worry. It can be done well (smoothly and without using too many transitional cliches). Here’s how to make it work.

Just jump right into it

The key to a good time jump – a time jump your readers notice, but barely – is to continue telling the story after a chapter or other kind of break like a time jump hasn’t happened. There are plenty of cliche (not quite wrong, but not recommended) ways writers do this. You’re probably familiar with a few of them.

“The days/weeks/months/years passed …”

“Winter melted subtly into spring …”

“I watched as the pages of the calendar turned …”

“As time went on …”

::skips months by writing November, December, January, etc. across consecutive pages:: (Sorry Steph, I just can’t accept this.)

If you can find a way to twist these cliches into something new and less cringe-worthy, or can fit them into your story in a way that actually makes sense (like, if your narrator is actually sort of obsessed with time and calendars, so it would make sense for her to note the passing of time that way), go for it.

But your best bet is to just jump into a new scene. Reveal that time has passed through subtle hints, either through short descriptions of your character’s surroundings or through dialogue.

Show how your characters have (or haven’t) changed

This element is essential for any time jump, no matter how much time you have actually skipped. It’s hard to show big changes in characters and their environments when you don’t use time as a tool, which is why, if done well, time jumps can be extremely effective. Remember, character development, or lack thereof, can and will make or break the quality of the story you’re trying to tell.

I’ll use a bit of my story as an example here. My narrator, at the beginning of the book, starts out as a coffee loathing, self-conscious, taking-life-one-day-at-a-time kind of girl. Time skips at a critical point for a few reasons, but within the first scene thereafter, we see her, now busy and a little stressed, grabbing coffee before leaving the house. Later on in the chapter we learn a few more unexpected details, like forgetting to finish an assignment (so unlike her!).

There’s also the most annoying character in the book, who hasn’t changed at all, which makes his character stand out even more. On purpose? Oh, of course.

Keep the story moving forward

At points you will need to have a character look back on a small detail that happened during the time your story skipped over, but don’t dwell too much on those moments. You’ve skipped over them for a reason. The key to a smooth transition is to keep the story moving forward as much as possible.

Continue moving through characters’ conversations, activities and key events, revealing small hints to past events as you go along. If you have to spend a few pages going over things your readers missed, you might want to reconsider skipping them completely. It slows things down, which isn’t something you want to do in the middle of your story.

This isn’t always an easy storytelling methodology to pull off, but as always, if you learn and practice how to use it effectively, it does get easier. Check out a few other common writing mistakes and how to fix them for more writing tips like this.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

How to Make Sure You’ve Tied Up All Your Story’s Loose Ends


You don’t have to be Type A to write a novel, but it’s definitely an advantage if you happen to be. There are some parts of writing a book, like tying up all the loose ends you’ve left in your plot by accident, that take a little, slightly obsessive organization.

Yes. The series of steps I’m about to show you involves making a chart. IT IS NOT AS SCARY AS YOU THINK.

There is a smart, simple way to make sure you’ve carried out all your sub-plots from beginning to end without leaving any behind. That’s what I’m going to show you today, because I like charts, and this is how I stay sane.

We’ll use part of my story as an example throughout. I reveal a bit of a spoiler here, but it doesn’t give much of the main plot away, so it’s not the end of the world. I don’t expect the book to ever get to the publishing stage (realistically) so if you’re from the future and you’re mad at me about leaking a spoiler, deal with it.

Step 1: On a sheet of paper, make a chart with three columns

You can use Excel or a table in Word or Google Docs too, if you’re not a pen and paper person. Here is how I set up my table (and in case you were wondering, I actually do use this method for all of my stories and it works. I don’t usually do it until I’m a few weeks away from finishing, because it’s very addictive once you start).


Your three columns should be some variation of what I have listed above. Give yourself a column for the conflict, the climax of that particular conflict and its resolution (how you’re going to tie it together).

But before you can list these out, you need a metric—a way you’re going to separate your sub-plots.

Step 2: Choose your metrics and add them to your chart in rows

Which metrics you choose will depend on your story specifically. If your story focuses a lot on different locations, like a sci-fi or fantasy story probably might, you might want to use location as your metric depending on which part of the story corresponds with each location. You could also separate each conflict depending on the character who interacts with it the most.

I have a lot of characters, so I’ve listed out the primary ones. Character development is a big part of my story mainly because it’s a prequel to a five-part novel sequence. My main goal is to introduce the characters that will play major roles later on in the sequence and show the reader where it all started.


Each character has his or own conflict. And throughout the story, as a result of the different events that occur throughout, each character eventually gets to a resolution. Or they should, if I weave pieces of the story together the right way.

Step 3: Write down every conflict, climax and resolution 

Each metric should have a resolution. This is your key to making sure every minor conflict you introduce throughout your story is tied up and secure before you finish. The last thing you want is to leave a plot point just hanging there. It’s much easier, if you have some time, to fix it now than it might be to try and go back and do it later (a strategy, mind you, not applicable during a WriMo).


This does not mean all mysteries or overarching conflicts need to be solved, especially if your story is part of a larger overarching story and not everything can be resolved in just one story. In my story, Lucas’s conflict is part of this book’s specific plot. It doesn’t carry over into later books, not really (not that I know of right now). There is another character that I know of, however, whose minor conflict does not get fully resolved. But it does come to … well, an end.

Let me know if these steps help you out at all. Give it a try next time you’re a little hesitant about whether or not you’ve tied everything together sufficiently. If you have a different method that works for you—tell us about it!

Happy writing!

Images courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Five Things Aspiring Writers Should Do in College


College is supposed to be that time in our early young adult life where we start figuring things out: how to balance extracurricular activities with school, friends and sleeping; how to do laundry; even how to act like a responsible human being (sort of).

With responsibility comes thoughts of the future, and if you’ve known for a while that you want to be a writer when you grow up, let’s be honest: it’s about to get much harder to find time to write while also figuring out how to keep your dorm room reasonably clean enough to live in.

There are a few things you can do to keep your college lifestyle choices in alignment with your overall goal of becoming a professional writer (yes, it is possible, if you work hard). Here are five things all aspiring writers should do before college graduation.

 1. Study subjects you like, not just English or creative writing 

Studying English is a great way to refine your analytical skills and give you some practice writing in different styles, but there’s a reason you’ll have a set of core courses to take as graduation requirements as well. Learning a wide variety of topics gives you more baseline knowledge to work with when you sit down to work on a new writing project.

You don’t even have to declare English or creative writing as your major, though: study whatever you want, whatever interests you the most. There are plenty of ways to learn about things you’re interested in and apply those topics to your writing.

 2. Pitch story ideas to real-world publications

When it comes to pitching, no publication is too big. In your lifetime, as an aspiring writer, you’re going to get rejected more times than you’ll be able to count. Aiming high, even if you think it’s too high, will help you gain confidence in pitching story ideas (creative or more journalistic/academic) and get used to that pre-written rejection email—or never hearing back at all.

If you do aim high, though, don’t forget to aim a little lower in-between the big pitches, too. You’re probably much more likely to start small and work your way up, so your best bet is probably to pitch ideas anywhere you can, as long as you pitch within that publication’s guidelines and in alignment with their brand.

 3. Write for your student newspaper or literary magazine

This might not sound very appealing to you if you’re a creative writer to the core, but you’d be surprised how much creative writing and journalism compliment each other.

Learning how to fine-tune your work and narrow down the focus of your pieces can really help you in your own writing, too. Plus, gaining experience interviewing people you don’t know won’t hurt, and the more you can prove to future employers you did all you could to get any kind of writing experience while you had the chance, the better.

 4. Form a peer review circle

If you’re not enrolled in a writing course that has a peer review component built into it, or even if you are and want more practice outside the classroom, form your own. Find fellow students who might be interested in having their work critiqued, and giving feedback on others’ work, in a group setting.

It doesn’t even have to be an official campus group or club: you can meet up informally once or twice a month at a local coffee shop to check up on each others’ progress and help hold each other accountable.

 5. Apply to work for your campus’s writing lab

Learning how to critique someone else’s grammar, structure and writing style can be an effective way to track down and improve on weaknesses in your own writing. Even helping students with their academic papers and other projects will keep your mind focused on writing even when you aren’t.

Besides, it will look good on your resume, and if there’s a small salary attached, even better.

You don’t have to wait until you have that degree to start your writing career. Gaining pub cred and networking with other writers and editors will serve as a major asset to you somewhere down the road. You won’t regret taking the extra time to make college all about writing, even if it’s a small part of everything you do as a student on and off campus.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Write Smarter by Enriching Your Mind


One of the worst things we can do as writers, even worse than not writing at all, is to keep writing the same things over and over again. It’s easy to want to stay in your literary comfort zone, especially if you’re an expert in your “field” (you could be, literally, if you’re a nonfiction writer) and want to take advantage of that to help others understand the topics you know and love.

Writer’s block, or as we prefer to say here, creative barriers or brain drought, probably plagues a lot of writers because they don’t realize they keep trying to recycle the same kinds of ideas and make them new and exciting, which isn’t always an easy thing to do. Smart writing involves a lot of time spent researching, experiencing and connecting with others.

Sometimes, to upgrade our writing skill, we need to take the extra time to nurture our brains. Today, let’s go over how to do it.

Never stop learning

While a standard education is a luxury worth appreciating, sometimes by the time we make it through our last year of college, we’re just over it. We don’t always get the chance to learn everything we want in school. By the time we’ve met the minimum requirements to qualify for some kind of grown-up job, there aren‘t always resources or time to master those skills or learn those concepts we’ve always wanted to. But it’s worth trying.

Don’t let your desire to learn die out, especially if you plan on refining your writing style in your free time. You’d be surprised how those little things we learn doing this or that eventually come in handy when working on a writing project. The more background knowledge you have, even about those seemingly meaningless things, can play an important role in enhancing the credibility of your writing. 

Write about things that intrigue you

This doesn’t mean you have to stick to writing about what you know best. This ties nicely into the previous point: to write, your mind needs constant stimulation, just like your heart needs consistent exercise to continue functioning correctly. If there’s a topic you want to incorporate into a story because you’re really interested in it, you might be tempted to shy away from it because you’re not an “expert.”

Write about it anyway! Do your research, obviously; don’t just make things up on the spot. Gather that knowledge you need to include that subject matter in your story and then go with it. Sometimes the best way to test your understanding of a subject is to explain it to someone else, and writing can exercise this skill and refine your style at the same time. It’s a win-win.

Surround yourself with interesting people

And where do you find these people? Interesting places. Spending time with friends and family is important; even more so if they’re the kinds of people who constantly challenge your thinking and expose you to a variety of opinions and experiences. That saying, you’re in the wrong room if you’re the smartest one there? It’s true. Especially if you want to enhance your writing and expand your horizons.

If you don’t feel your usual social circle is enough to stimulate your mind, that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to hang out there. But there’s also nothing wrong with joining other circles, whether online or in your surrounding real-world community, any place you can openly discuss any topic and expose yourself to different ways of thinking and facts you might never have even thought to look up on your own.

Writing is more than typing words out on a computer. If you want to go all in, and diversify and multiply your ideas, your mind needs attention, and your writing, in time, will reflect the amount of care and affection you give it.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Sometimes It IS Okay to Force Yourself to Write (Midweek Novel Update #11)


Not always. But sometimes.

It’s not the best idea to consistently force yourself to write “when you’re just not feeling it.” Especially when it feels like you’ve just run out of ideas, and need a little time for your brain’s creative switch to reset itself. Given time, that spark of motivation and flow of ideas will always come back.

But what if you’re a good ways into your story, you’re not stuck and all you need to do is fill in the gaps—but you’re just too busy to make consistent progress?

I’ve been working on my current book for over three years now. Two of those years, I was still in college, and as you can probably imagine (or infer from experience), time to write was minimal. So if there wasn’t a WriMo or a class break anytime soon, large quantities of writing didn’t really get done.

This past year I’ve bounced between a few internships, a temporary job, finishing up two degrees and starting graduate school. Some more time to write there, but I still wasn’t into the whole forcing yourself to write thing. Now I’m knee-deep in school work, job hunting, balancing a part-time gig (which is nice because I can do it in sweatpants and no one would ever know) and, of course, creating Novelty Revisions content daily, because I consider that (and you, my readers) a priority.

Honestly? I don’t really have time to write. But for the past week or so, since technically hitting my Camp NaNo word count goal, I’ve set a daily 1,000 word writing goal, because I told myself I wanted to get to 40,000 total words before the end of the month (that’s 40,000 including what I had written before July started). And I’m almost there. And if I keep going at this rate, I could technically, maybe, finish this thing before September, which would be amazing.

Because, as I mentioned: three years. A long time. And this newest revision, which I started completely from scratch, I’ve only been working on since April.

So is it technically a new book, not the same one I’ve been working on for three years? Eh, I guess. But so many of this new draft’s themes and concepts are taken from the first two revisions, I kind of just group them all into the same steady project.

Right now, with so much going on (and trying to start new projects, even though I’m nervous doing that without knowing what my job situation will look like in the next month), cranking out that daily 1K is really hard. And this is coming from someone who wrote an 130,000 word book in two weeks, but we’re not discussing the precise details of how that happened. Basically, it’s surprising to be struggling to get out such a small (in comparison) amount of words per day.

So how do I do it? I put it in my planner and say, “Do it.”

Is it always pretty? Of course not. I already know there are a few pieces I’m going to have to go back and fix, or maybe even not use at all. But sometimes we need to just convince ourselves writing something is more important than writing nothing.

It’s a lot easier, I’ve found, to go back and rework a few parts of a book then refuse to write anything because you’re not going to do your absolute best. I am type A! Of course it drives me loopy to write something I know isn’t the best I can do. But I know where the story is going, I know what I want to write, it’s just a matter of sitting down and getting the words out of my head and into the document.

Not everyone can do that. I know. I’m not at all saying you’re any “less” of a writer if you can’t write when you just aren’t feeling it. Maybe it’s one of those skills you have to practice over time; I honestly don’t know.

The nerd part of me (okay, all of me) would love to do some kind of study on that (or find one, if it already exists). If you force yourself to write, in small increments over an extended period of time, does it get easier? I’m going to feel really dumb if there is an obvious answer to this, but I’m always transparent with you. And right now, I’m rushing to finish this post so I can get started on something else I need to have done today, and I don’t have time to go any deeper than a Google search, which didn’t bring up anything too promising.

Just try this for me: next time you want to write, but don’t feel like writing, figure out the best way to talk yourself into doing it anyway. Even if it’s less than 100 words at a time. Can you do it? And once you sit down, open your document and go, is it easier to far surpass that small goal and forget why you were so resistant to the idea of writing that day?

Are we just too distracted by other things? Is that why we don’t feel like doing the thing we quite possibly love the most?

I don’t know about you, but when I’m not writing, I’m just not whole.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter. 

It’s Easier to Write Young Adult Fiction at 23 than It Was at 15


I started writing longer fiction probably in middle school. I wrote a lot of little pieces of stories here and there before then, and a lot of poetry and song lyrics even earlier than that. Writing has always been an important part of my life. I’m not the best with making words come out of my mouth the right way, but give me a piece of paper and I’ll write something worth a read. I hope.

When I was younger, I was like every other tween and teenager: I wanted nothing to do with being a tween or teenager. I wanted my independence. I wanted to live the kind of life I thought adults lived, where things were still complicated but I could make my own decisions and plot the course for my own life instead of someone else always being there to do it for me.

Obviously, actual adulthood is never like you thought it was when you were 13. But I was so content with my stories then: adult characters, living adult lives—which of course I thought meant living out your dreams and always getting the happily ever after no matter the core conflict.

I settled into high school eventually, though, and finally decided to try writing about characters my own age. But … that wasn’t any easier than drafting characters older than me. I still had no idea what I was doing.

I think it’s easier, now that I’ve survived adolescence. No, being 15 isn’t that bad in a general sense, I guess. But up till that point in my life, it was the worst I’d ever felt. So of course I turned to writing to cope, because writing takes you out of the present and into a different world, where feeling is different, because you’re not telling your story anymore. You’re telling someone else’s story.

I won’t lie and say I have it all figured out. I’m between jobs, I can’t find freelance work, I’m trying to write a book and get an advanced degree and run a magazine, I’m single, I don’t even know which direction I want to take my career half the time.

But do you know what I’m not? I’m not a broke high school student biting my nails over whether or not it’s okay to go to prom with a friend instead of a date (it is). I’m not dragging my feet because I have to retake my ACTs so my prospective college will pay me more money to attend. I’m not crying over that same stupid guy who doesn’t remember my favorite color. All that drama you deal with as a teenager, it’s all you know. It’s normal to feel lost and dependent and invisible. But.

Writing is about solving problems. How can you write about a character who has all these problems, and come up with a solution, when you’re going through the same things and have yet to find a solution?

Now I can take all those lessons I learned way back when, all those solutions I eventually found, and make stories out of them. That’s why YA is my favorite genre, and where I think I’ll stay. Because I remember what it was like. My characters have no idea how to put the ripped corners of pages back together. But I do.

In all honestly, I’ll take living with my parents after having survived four years of college without them, having no money to pay my way through graduate school, with no friends left in my hometown to confide in, over being a teenager with absolutely no clue how to navigate the real world, do a load of laundry or flirt with a crush subtly enough that no one else will notice.

This life, I can handle. It’s good to have made it here.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of dotmatchbox [Flickr].

A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter.