Just Because You Don’t Write Every Day Doesn’t Mean You’re Not a ‘Real’ Writer

One writer’s way of doing things is not the only way. Writing every day is just one of many strategies to get writing done, both when you’re inspired to write and when you aren’t.

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The hardest part about teaching other people about writing is giving suggestions without making it sound like those suggestions are the only options they have.

Writing isn’t some elitist pastime reserved only for the stubbornly determined (but mostly stubborn). Just because one person has a method that works for them doesn’t mean you have to adopt that same method to accomplish what you want to accomplish.

Yet that’s what it sounds like sometimes, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t help that I’ve posted here before about how I worked my way up to publishing daily on this blog. It’s not to give off the impression that your writing only matters if you do it every day. For some, it helps, but it’s not a prerequisite for entry into the virtual writer’s circle.

There are too many people out there who want to be writers but never write

“I want to be a writer. But I don’t really have time to write ever.” Okay. Fair. Finding time to write, especially when you’re busy (and honestly, who isn’t these days?), is hard.

But we don’t have to stick to extremes here. It’s not ‘write every day’ or ‘never write at all.’ It’s ‘write as much as you want or need to in order to keep up with your goals.’

Here comes the goal talk again. Yes, you’re tired of it and it’s only the second month of the year. But how do you ever expect to ‘be a real writer’ without any direction? You want to accomplish something. Saying you want to write a book, but never actually sitting down to do it, doesn’t do anyone any good.

Still, that doesn’t mean you have to be like me. I am addicted to writing. Don’t be like me. All my friends are imaginary. (You’ll understand that reference soon, promise.)

You have to do what works for you

I write every day because, if I don’t, I will fall behind. I have a lot of projects I’m trying to keep up with (like this one) and have a strict schedule I need to stick to in order to stay on track. That’s my method and it’s how I stay productive and get things done.

But you might not be able to do what I do. I’m no expert and even if I wanted to, I don’t have any kind of authority to tell you my way is the only way to do it. If you can only write every other day, or only on weekdays, or need to get all your writing done on weekends, guess what? You’re still getting it done. It doesn’t matter when you do it or how often you do it. You are doing it. That counts!

Anyone who tells you you’re not a real writer because you don’t write daily isn’t worth your time. Don’t listen to them. I am here to motivate and guide you, but I don’t judge. You’re here because you have some kind of writing goal, whatever it is.

It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there. One word at a time. That’s all it takes.

Image courtesy of Image Catalog/flickr.com.

My Top Five Tips for Launching a Writing ‘Career’

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Everyone wants to be a writer.

Not just any kind of writer, either. A successful writer. Everyone wants their name on the New York Times bestseller list. Everyone wants to add “author” to their Twitter bio. Everyone wants to take what they enjoy doing and make a career out of it.

Which means, no matter how much you love to write, no matter how good you might be at writing, it is not very easy to launch a career. Especially when you’ve exhausted all other options, and are trying to do it all on your own.

I started this blog in March 2015 to give writers just like you advice on how to ‘make it’ in this competitive industry. Here is a compilation of things I have done my best to teach you since then, just in case you need a pre-New Year’s Resolution refresher.

1 .Be online

Many writers don’t like this advice. “I’m a writer, why do I have to interact with anyone on social media? It takes away from my writing time.” Refusal to adapt to new technologies is going to get you one thing: your own cloak of invisibility, no strings attached.

Promoting your work, and your brand as a writer, is absolutely essential if you ever want to get paid to write. There are many, many, many writers just like you out there. You have to use social media to differentiate yourself from them, or you WILL get lost in the stream.

2. Be selective about who you write for

Pitching articles anywhere and everywhere just for the sake of plastering your name all over the internet is not attractive. Starting a pitch with, “I’m really interested in writing  more so I’m looking for more opportunities to write for publications” is not attractive.

Quality over quantity is an absolute must. You could be writing 10 articles per week, but if they’re not good articles, you’re not going to impress anyone. Write fewer articles about things you are actually interested in writing about, and that passion will shine right through every word you publish.

3. Highlight your passions ahead of your accomplishments

Writing query and cover letters and writing proposals of any kind requires doing something most of us aren’t good at: talking ourselves up. WAY up. You have to tell an agent, editor, publisher, whoever you’re writing to why they should pick you over someone else. The tricky part is, it’s still not about you. It’s about what you have to give, and how you are able to showcase that.

So instead of listing off all the publications you’ve written for in the past six months, try phrasing your ‘self-pitch’ a little more like this:

“I am passionate about health and wellness education, so I contribute weekly to these related publications in order to help their audiences learn this thing.” Also, mention the fact that you plan on doing the same thing for the publication you are pitching to, if your pitch is accepted.

4. ‘Finding your niche’ does not mean ‘squeeze into someone else’s mold’

The way to be successful in any kind of industry is to stand out, which would be great advice all by itself if everyone wasn’t trying to apply it simultaneously to their own lives.

There are way too many ingredients that go into this process. You have to figure out what you enjoy writing about, who is interested in articles about that, where they are, what they’re looking for, how you can prove to them you’re the perfect candidate in only one writing sample … it seems impossible.

But everyone has their own unique angle on writing in the same niche. You have to adopt and embrace that, and hard. What will make you successful is what makes you different than everyone else. Even when everyone else is trying to be different, no one is exactly like you.

5. Be prepared to make your own way

There is nothing wrong with traditional publishing, but if that just isn’t working for you, you have a choice to make. Are you going to close the book on your dream career, or plow forward even though you have absolutely no one backing you up?

Don’t shy away from self-publishing an ebook or short story collection. Don’t downplay your success just because you don’t have a ‘real’ publisher. In this industry, if you’re not stubborn enough to make it happen when everyone keeps telling you no, you’re just not going to make it. That’s the reality and it’s completely your own decision to make.

Writing is hard. Getting published is hard. I am figuring it out, one day at a time, and so will you.

You CAN do this. Set a goal and get to work. It will take a long time. You will not always be able to write your best work. You will fail once, twice, 20 times. But one way or another, you will be successful, as long as you refuse to give up.

Check out our LET’S GET PUBLISHED! series for more pitching and publishing tips.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

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.

If Your Career Doesn’t Involve Writing, Are You Still a Writer?

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To avoid becoming a real-life starving artist cliche, a lot of aspiring writers often get to a point where they have to make headway in a full-time career – any career – to make ends meet as they continue building up writing experience. This is nothing new and nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Unfortunately, every aspiring writer, understandably, hopes and prays to find a job that will help them develop their writing and editing skills. Every single one. So your chances of even getting a job in publishing or journalism or anything related are slim.

It has nothing to do with you as a person or how good of a writer you are. Actually, you’re probably a great writer. But so are a lot of other people looking for the same kinds of jobs you are.

There are a lot of jobs out there that you’re probably already qualified for. Being able to communicate, meet deadlines and stay organized are essential skills most aspiring writers have mastered even before they begin their job search as college graduates. This might mean you’ll end up working for a company who’s happy to have you – and you’re happy to help out – even if that particular industry isn’t ideally where you want to be.

But if you’re working somewhere you’re not spending every moment of every work day writing, are you still a writer?

What if you get caught up in a job you’ve fallen in love with, and all of a sudden realize you’re not spending as much time writing when you’re not at work?

This does happen, and it’s the fear that throws a lot of aspiring writers off course even before it becomes a problem. We’re stubborn. We don’t want to settle into anything other than our dream career. Yet we’re broke. We need to make a living still doing something we enjoy.

Just because you’re working in a different industry than you want to be doesn’t mean you’ll hate your job or never get to do what you love ever again. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.

It takes time to adjust to a new routine. If you’re frustrated because you’ve just started a new job or have just taken on more responsibility at your same job and haven’t had time to write lately like normal – relax. Figuring out how to fit writing into everyday life when you have a full schedule doesn’t happen in a day. Just because you’ve stopped writing for the time being, while you’re adjusting to something new, doesn’t mean you’ll never go back to it.

You’re still using your skills, whatever you’re doing. The skills you use at the office are the same ones you use to write, whether you realize it or not. You don’t have to spend every moment of every day writing to call yourself a writer. Also remember that the best writers have life experience. Some of your best story ideas will come to you while working at your current job.

You are a writer because you are a creative, passionate, story-loving person. We all need breaks and we all have to make sacrifices. Keep your dream alive, and enjoy what you’re doing. If you love to write, you will eventually find time to do it no matter how busy you are.

To learn more about how to stand out in the publishing world, no matter what stage of building a writing career you’re in, check out our LET’S GET PUBLISHED! series, which we’ll start back up again in January.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Five Things You’re Not Doing as an Aspiring Writer, but Should Be

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So you want to be a writer. Excellent. You’ve found the perfect place to learn all about how to do that. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?—things you’re not really doing all that often, but should be, if you want to write professionally someday.

 1. Jotting down ideas

In any given day, thought after thought after thought will cross your mind so fast you’ll probably miss a good portion of them. Every once in a while you’ll have a thought that quickly morphs into an idea, and more often than not, that idea will quadruple in size, block out all other thoughts, and consume you until you simply can’t ignore it anymore. The only way to get rid of it without actually tossing it out is to write it down somehow. On a piece of paper, on your phone—somewhere you won’t lose it, and can refer back to later.

 2. Connecting with other aspiring writers

Sometimes writing can get lonely, no matter how many characters you have to keep you company. There are plenty of reasons to engage with other writers, whether online or in person. Sharing ideas can be a powerful asset to everyone involved, and sometimes, talking about writing with other writers is a lot less frustrating than trying to explain to your non-writer friends why you sit at your computer and talk to yourself (it’s not you, it’s the voices).

 3. Reading

Why must writers read? Well, why must a violinist listen to other violinists? Why do theatre nerds love going to see shows? You have to know not only what’s going on in your desired industry; you should enjoy it, too. And it’s likely you probably already do. The more you read, the more inspired you’ll be, and the more different types of genres you read, the more versatile you can make your own work.

 4. Listening to podcasts (about everything)

There are podcasts out there on pretty much every topic you can think of. That means there are thousands of ideas discussed via podcasts daily—and the more you listen to them, the more of them you’ll here. Back to the whole inspiration factor. Sometimes hearing another successful person talk about their success is enough to convince you to put your own aspirations front and center for a little while. Whether you’re in it for the information or the entertainment, or both, listening can help you more than you think.

 5. Writing

This one might seem obvious, but it’s actually pretty easy, and completely unintentional, for someone to dream of becoming a writer without ever actually acting on it. Writing is something you can’t get better at, or have any hope of succeeding in, unless you physically sit down and do it. It doesn’t even have to be a full story or even make sense. Just write something. Anything. Everyone starts somewhere. It doesn’t matter if it’s not very good. You’ll get there.

It’s never too early or too late to dive into the wondrous world of writing. Everyone enters at their own risk, and few regret it. The most important thing to remember is that, in the grand scheme of things, writing success isn’t measured by how many pieces of writing you publish. At least here at Novelty Revisions, we measure success by how willing you are to give this writing thing a try.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s do it. Let’s get to writing.

Image courtesy of Flickr.