The Dark and Twisty Poetry

What makes a Bad Day not so bad? A poem. A chance at temporary escape.

One what is still considered to be the worst day of my life, I read an original poem out loud to a group of people for the first time.

It wasn’t the worst day of my life because I had to read an original poem out loud to a group of people for the first time. Actually, that’s what ended up making The Worst Day not so bad.

It was the night of the Boston Marathon bombings. That, on top of a life-changing phone call (unrelated to Boston, but still devastating) and more bad news about a classmate, froze me. I stood in the middle of the library all numb and chilled and feeling that way I feel when my brain cuts off all access to reality for an undisclosed amount of time.

Everything was falling apart. My world collapsed around me to the point where time just stopped. So when I say it was the worst day of my life, it’s not because I was a college junior double-major type A overloaded crybaby Snowflake plagued by fast-approaching finals and summer internship orientations and boy drama. I was quite literally about to lose everything – as far as I knew, in that moment – just as the universe decided to remind me just how screwed up the world was.

Yet I still had to walk across the first floor of the library to stand in front of a few dozen people and read a poem I wrote about pancakes.

I’m not going to lie to you – it was a good poem. I wrote it because my fiction and poetry class, required for my creative writing minor, forced me to. I started writing song lyrics – basically poems – when I was 10. Writing a poem was a no-brainer. Writing a good one was hard. I worked hard because I am incapable of doing anything other than Overachieving. Being chronically ill with Imposter Syndrome, I don’t usually admit it when I’ve written something good. This was possibly the one and only exception. I knew it was good.

So when it was my turn, I stood and walked up to the front of the room – still numb, still cold, still hollow and shaken – and switched my brain to Performance Mode. I like Performance Mode. I spent 11 years singing under hot bright lights without ever passing out. I am a big trembling ball of Anxiety until I flip that switch. And then I am the part of me I like. I am confident.

I read that poem as I had a thousand times in front of the bathroom mirror I shared with two other 20-somethings – reciting the lines as if everything was fine. Everything was good. Not for the narrator in the poem, but that was the point. It was a Dark and Twisty poem – it was a Dark and Twisty time in my life. I read that last line and I said thank you and people clapped.

And on my way back to my chair I heard someone whisper, “That was so good,” and for a few more seconds I forgot about Boston and that phone call and my friend with a Darker and Twisty-er life than mine.

It was the worst day of my life, but I got to escape it. Being One With My Art even for only about 90 seconds was enough to get me through it. I remember nothing else about the rest of that day. I’m sure I dragged myself back to my apartment and got sad and called my mom. But I got to share something I created with people who actually listened to my words. There’s a bright spot on my memory of that day because of a Dark and Twisty pancake themed poem that at least two people thought was good.

On the worst days of your life, perform. Create something and release it into the world. Not so you never have to face the Bad Things, but so you have something warm and fuzzy to remember when your mind flashes back to that day. All the things that went wrong will still be there. But that one good thing – that once chance to share the best part of you – will be there, too.

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

Why So Many Writers Are Sad

Far too many of us have forgotten where we came from.

When you were young, you wrote stories because there were stories to be written. Tales floated around in your head until you wrote them down, at which point they became yours – your real, amazing creations coming to life in your hands.

Kids carry little to no shame when it comes to creativity. You know this if you have spent even only five minutes with a six-year-old. When they don’t know how to explain something, they attempt to create a way of understanding that matches their level of cognition. Creativity is their perspective. They know nothing different.

When you were little, every story you wrote was awful. At least in comparison to what adult professionals tend to produce. Adults didn’t tear the pages of your stories into pieces and say you were stupid for responding to your heart and mind’s call to create, though. They said “very good.” That was enough for you. “Good” meant your attempt was successful. Onto the next task you went.

Adulthood has a way of shattering everything you once experienced as a young writer. Before, you were just interested in writing about the moving pictures in your head. It was relief; it was fun. But not anymore. Now you’re over-concerned about everything. Will this sell? Does my audience care? Where IS my audience? How will I get paid? Why is so-and-so’s blog more popular than mine? Why is he making a living as a writer even though I’m better at writing than he is?

Why does no one ever tell me I’m doing a good job?

Have you ever stopped to think that it doesn’t have to be like this?

The reality is, as you already know, making money as a writer is challenging. Getting people to read what you write is a struggle. Building a marketable, credible online presence is a nightmare. You’re not the only one doing it, so you feel threatened when someone else crowds the tiny space you’ve claimed in your niche. All these things are part of writing, whether you’re a journalist or a novelist or whatever it is you want to call yourself. But you don’t have to be part of the crowd that complains and shoves elbows and demands more money than they have earned.

Far too many of us have forgotten where we came from. You didn’t start out this way. I didn’t think about making money as an author when I was seven – did you? You wrote because you liked it. You wrote because every part of you demanded it. I think it’s safe to bet a good percentage of people trying to write professionally now don’t even like doing it half the time. That’s sad. Please don’t be one of those people.

You don’t hate writing – you hate the system. No one ever said this was going to be a perfect road. People get so caught up in being better than everyone else that they completely ignore the only thing that’s going to get them anywhere near the top – listening to that voice inside them saying, “Write this. Write this because it is what you are supposed to write, and that is all that matters.”

I am a freelance writer. I understand that money and a following and recognition matters. However, I am a believer in passion before profit. That sounds a lot more hollow than it actually is. I wrote things I liked, and there was no money. I wrote things I didn’t like, and there was still no money. Then all of a sudden there was money, and people started reaching out to me. It HAPPENS.

Of course, by “all of a sudden,” I mean months and months later. Instant gratification does not exist in the writing world. If you can’t handle that reality, you’re just not going to survive.

You have to do this because you want to do this. You have to do this because of that part of you that’s screaming to let that story out. Otherwise, you’re going to be miserable. I have met many miserable writers. They are not fun to be around. They’ve lost their reason for doing this. Don’t lose yours.

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

How to Structure Your Life to Make Room for Creativity

There’s a lot to balance – but it’s essential that you do it.

Creativity is something many people have, but don’t use. There were times in college I can remember going weeks without doing anything other than homework and consuming other people’s creations. It’s important to continuously exercise your creativity – though you won’t be able to do this everywhere you go. Sometimes work, people and just life in general get in your way. That’s why you have to learn to block out time in your schedule for everything – including your own personal, private time to be creative.

Here are all the things you can expect to have to balance – not including Adult Responsibilities, which you just have to do regardless of whether you want to or not – if you want to live a healthy, fulfilling and vastly creative life.


I’ve turned down way too many chances to spend time with people I like for the sake of writing, and that’s not recommended. Even creative people who consider themselves introverts need a social life. People who go out into the world, form relationships and experience real life are better writers – and more creative, in terms of application, in general. Make time for friends, family, significant others, whoever is in your life that’s important to you. Plan something social outside of school/work at least once a week. Go out to breakfast or lunch or for a drink with someone. You need it. And you DO have time for it, whether you think you do or not.


Writing or being creative at work does not count as a creative project. I don’t even consider more creative freelancing gigs to be creative projects. I think there needs to be a separation between the things you create as part of your job/career and the things you create voluntarily. It’s hard to approach creativity the same way under someone else’s guidance than when you’re calling all the shots. It sounds exhausting, having a creative career working under someone else and then coming home to work on your own projects, but trust me, if you really want to stretch your limits, you’ll make it work. Sometimes, you’ll work jobs you couldn’t care less about. At some point, you might run headfirst into your dream career. Balancing that with your own personal work is still hard – but it’s absolutely possible.


Dedicate time, maybe in the evenings or on weekends, to spend time with your hobbies. Anything you like to do on your own time – usually without any stress or negative pressure to excel – can be considered a hobby. I like to play video games sometimes. It’s fun, it’s stimulating and I can get lost in it for hours at a time (but I usually don’t, because who has time for that? …). I look forward to Saturday nights when I have a few spare hours to do some much-needed zombie slaughtering. Some people play sports. Even things like writing, dancing and music are hobbies – unless you’re working on something specific, like choreographing or writing a poem. Writing in general can be your hobby; writing a poem is technically a creative project.

Creative projects

Creative projects can be hobbies, but the idea behind making time for creativity specifically is that you always have something you’re working on – something with a start and end point. I’m always working on a novel in the background, for example, even if it’s not my priority. It’s not my work, but it’s also not my hobby. A creative project forces you to actually do something with your creative motivations. It’s not always relaxing – sometimes it’s even harder than your actual job. But if you’re a true creative, you’re going to need this time to literally or figuratively sketch out and develop the many ideas popping up in your head.


You can’t forget to take care of yourself – no matter how busy you think you are. Things like cooking, exercising and sleep are not going to take away from your productivity. In fact, the healthier you are, the more productive you are going to be. So set aside at least an hour or so every night just for you. You can watch Netflix or play games on your phone … it doesn’t matter. Stop working. Give your brain a rest. And then PHYSICALLY rest. Go to sleep. Use Bedtime, if you have an iPhone. Set a specific sleep-wake pattern for yourself and stick with it. Sleep deprivation and stress WILL kill your creativity, 100 percent.

Be creative. Make time. It’s worth it – but only if you put as much time and effort into it as you want and need to.

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

Are You TOO Organized? Here’s How to Be More Spontaneous

Give yourself some room to breathe.


Organized writers are some of the most productive creators out there. They also often struggle with their creativity – not because they aren’t creative, but because they’re so locked into a schedule that they never treat creative work like anything other than work.

Sometimes we end up stifling our creativity without even realizing it. Here are a few suggestions for letting loose a little bit – it’s good for you, I promise. I see you hyperventilating over there. Calm yourself.

Schedule “whatever” time

I just started doing this, and it’s amazing what happens when you block out time just for doing whatever you feel like doing. You literally just pull out your planner and pick three days out of the week – I like Monday/Wednesday/Friday for consistency. Choose one hour out of each of those days, preferably the same every time, and label it “whatever” time. The rule is, it’s not Netflix time or reading time or hang out with friends time. This is isolated time set aside specifically for creating whatever you want. You can write, you can take pictures – it doesn’t matter. Once I sketched and colored in a self-portrait. I’m a terrible artist. But it was the most fun hour I’d had that week – and I got to laugh at how bad it was. Everyone needs time to just create freely without having to worry about deadlines or doing something well.

Try not to work on the same thing two days in a row

This won’t apply to everyone or every situation, but I have this philosophy that if we work on the same thing too many days in a row, we’ll lose interest quicker. Let’s say you’re about to start writing a new novel. YOU’RE SO EXCITED!!! All you want to do for the next six months is work on it every day until it’s done. The problem is, about a week in, you’ve made a lot of progress … but you’re already sick of it. You’ve burned through all your anticipation. It’s not fun anymore. I’m not saying you should “starve” your creativity – but the longer you can draw out your motivation to work on that book, the more likely you are to actually follow through and actually finish it. I’d still stick with the three days per week rule.

Take weekends off

Some of you aren’t going to like this one, and I understand why. Especially when you work full-time, you often save weekends for your most productive writing sessions. But after almost a year of freelancing, I can tell you with confidence that working seven days a week – because technically, writing is still a form of work – will kill your energy and your creativity. If you need your weekend writing time, at least spend one day writing and the other taking a break. You need that break. You need to get away from your routine and do something else – something spontaneous. Take at least one if not two days every week to just exist. Your writing life will be much richer and more productive if you set it aside every once in awhile, go out into the world and experience new things.

Some days, you’re going to have to stick to a strict schedule and plan ahead or you’ll never get anything done. You can’t do this 24/7, though. You’re going to struggle so much more if you don’t give yourself some room to breathe. There’s productivity … and then there’s growth. If you want to grow, break away from the norm every now and then. If you have to schedule that time out, fine – but don’t neglect it. Your writing depends on your willingness to go off the grid every once in awhile.

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 for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

What Your Creativity Needs You to Know

Your creativity has an important message for you.



I’m kind of nervous about letting you see this. I mean, for all you know I’m just an abstract representation of all kinds of neurons in your brain firing all over the place, convincing you to do weird stuff like make up stories and draw pictures and whatever. But I have feelings, you know. Well, not real emotions, like people have. I’m your creativity – I’m part of your brain. Part of what makes you who you are. I’m just trying to respond to your behavior. Give me a second to think.

Well, I guess you’re wondering now why I’m writing to you. Kind of weird, I know. I guess the only way to justify this is to phrase it in a way you’ll understand. If I were a human, I’d say you’ve bruised my feelings. That’s how you’d say it, right? I don’t think you get how your behavior is affecting me – affecting our relationship. I know you’re busy and all that. But hello! You wouldn’t be so busy if it weren’t for me. I’m where all your ideas come from. You owe me. Ugh. Read this, at least. That’s all I want.

I guess I’ll say it this way: I’m lonely? I miss you? You’ve abandoned me?

OK, I’m sorry if this gets too sappy but I don’t know how else to get you to pay attention, so here it goes.

Sometimes I just want to spend time with you and, I don’t know, it’s like all you do is ignore me. It feels like you forget about me until you feel like you need me. Then you get mad at me when you’re trying to use me for one specific thing and it doesn’t work. Like that time you were trying to work on writing your book, and you got an idea for another story instead. It’s not my fault cool stuff happens when we’re together. It’s not my fault you think you’re so busy that there’s no time to make me feel important.

You know what it’s like? It’s like a long time ago you put me in a box and put a lid on top of the box. And every once in awhile you’ll take off the lid and you’ll talk to me and you’ll ask for my help. But it’s hard for me to help you when I’m stuck in that box. Why won’t you ever let me out of the box? I just want to run around and give you ideas and be happy.

And can’t we ever do anything besides stare at that bright rectangle and put words on it? Aren’t you bored of looking at that thing? I’m good for more than just sitting, you know. There’s lots of stuff we could do together. You know what my favorite thing is? When we go for walks. Just you and me. No bright rectangles, no dark insides of boxes. Sometimes you even let me sit on your shoulder and I can see everything and it just makes it all so clear – all the things we could think about and write about and sculpt and paint and I don’t know, whatever you wanted to do.

I want to do what makes you happy. And I know making words is your favorite thing ever. I know sometimes you’re tired and I’m tired and we don’t get along so well, and you’re sad about it but you just think I’m mad at you or something. I don’t get mad – I don’t have human emotions, remember? Sometimes you don’t use me enough and sometimes you wear me out. I need breaks, too. Can’t we just compromise? Go on more walks, maybe? Especially when you’re mad at me? That’d be nice. I’d like that.

You know, as a team, we’ve done some pretty awesome stuff together. I just want you to know not to give up on me or forget about me. That’s all, really. Sometimes you say there isn’t time … all I want is a few minutes. Ten? Twenty? Just “us” time. Time to come up with crazy ideas together and maybe even make stuff out of them. Can we? Maybe not every day … but that would be fun, wouldn’t it? Sometimes we come up with some bad ideas, but that’s OK. I always keep them around just in case we might use them someday. See, I care about you … I’d do anything for you. I just wish you’d do the same for me.


Think of me when you’re sad about stuff or you feel like doing something DIFFERENT. I like different. Different is when the best stuff is made. Don’t keep me in a box. Let me help you do cool stuff. Don’t hide me away when I can’t give you exactly what you want. This is a partnership. I inspire you and then we create. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Well, I think so.

OK bye.

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 for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

How to Practice Being More Creative

Exercise your creativity, and have fun doing it.


Is creativity something that can be exercised? If you have ever taken a creative writing class, your answer should most definitely be yes. I spent my first few weeks of my first creative writing class frustrated that we weren’t doing enough writing. It turns out you can’t write without being creative, and you can’t practice writing without also taking the time to practice creativity.

How do you “practice” something so abstract? Here are a few of my favorite suggestions.

Come up with random writing prompts

On my first laptop, I used the Stickies app (virtual sticky notes that “stick” to your desktop) to keep track of random writing prompts. Every once in awhile a character would pop into my head – a trait or flaw or desired achievement – and I’d stick it there, knowing I’d be able to find it later. Other times, I would do the opposite of what we did in school – come up with my own writing prompts, as if I were the English teacher giving students something to write about in their homework journals.

When we claim to lack inspiration, we’re really just at that unbearable stretch of time that falls between deciding we want to write something and actually writing something. When you’re sitting on an airplane and that airplane is sitting on the runway, it’s pretty awful. You just want the giant machine to carry you safely to your destination already. But the plane can’t do that without first making its way onto the runway, and then – slowly at first, faster at last – speeding down that strip until it finally takes off.

The same way a flight crew has to make preparations before flying (what those are, I’m not knowledgeable enough at this moment to say), we have to prepare ourselves for writing as well. Sometimes the act of sitting down and thinking up random writing prompts, even if we don’t use them right away, or ever, stimulates our minds just enough to engage a creativity takeoff.

Build with LEGOs

Though it seems silly now, I’m not sure I would have ever had the chance to play with LEGOs growing up if it weren’t for my brother. (If you’ve ever wondered, by the way, pink LEGOs do exist.) I’ve played with enough of those bricks in my lifetime to know there’s nothing quite like figuring out how to build a tower that touches the ceiling, as a seven year old with no knowledge of physics or architecture. How did we figure it out? By figuring it out. Literally. There was no Google back then. You couldn’t search on YouTube and watch someone else do it.

I never liked those sets that came with instructions showing you exactly how to build something. It’s not fun if you can’t dump an entire bucket of LEGO bricks on the floor and create something from nothing. If we still had them, I’d probably still do the same thing. It makes you think without realizing how hard you’re actually thinking. You can build whatever you want, knock it down, take it apart and build something else.

If you think about it, you’re doing the same thing when you sit down to write something. You have a general selection of story elements and ideas and have to figure out what to put where to build it into something awesome. Playing with LEGOs may seem like a pretty strange way to practice how to do that, but when all you have in front of you is a bunch of plastic, your brain is going to weave a lot of threads of ideas together while you’re building.

Write your own dialogue for an already existing video

Bad Lip Reading, anyone? This is an exercise I remember doing in my creative writing class in high school, and I still do it sometimes when I’m “bored” (aka want to write but don’t know what to write about). All you do is find a short video, or a piece of a longer one, and watch it on mute. All you have then are visual cues. You have some context, but give yourself the task of writing your own script to go along with what you’re seeing, and you’ll be busy for quite awhile.

Probably the most fun part about this exercise, after coming up with at least a few versions of what you think is being said, is going back and watching the entire video with the sound back on. Whether you were somewhat on track or completely wrong, the first benefit of doing this is laughing at the comparison. The second, of course, is letting your imagination do most of the work, something we don’t often do enough.

I catch myself doing this subconsciously scrolling through Facebook, since most of my news feed is now mostly videos I have no interest in watching with sound. This might be especially beneficial for those who also want to practice writing dialogue, because it forces you to not only write your own, but to listen more closely to the way people talk in real life, if it’s an interview or speech or something you’re watching on mute.

Four words: coloring book and crayons

Some of us need structure in our creativity – most of you reading this are probably writers, after all. Outlines exist to build some kind of defined framework and foundation to a story before creativity takes over, which you wouldn’t think to be a skill that can be practiced or refined. You’d be surprised how all those hours you spent bonding with markers and colored pencils in grade school actually probably contributed to the writer’s brain you’re now stuck with for the rest of your life.

I don’t know about you, but the smell of crayons alone warps me right back to my coloring book days. “Adult” coloring books are a thing now, and it’s not just some random fad or marketing scheme. Coloring is mindless in some ways and mentally stimulating in others. Especially when you have a Disney princess coloring book like I do, and make Belle a blond and Cinderella a redhead just because you can. (I’d still never color outside the lines though … that drives me crazy.)

Do I even need to mention here how we rely way too much on technology to stimulate our own creativity? Watching a few videos here and there can help, but if you’ve ever had a shower epiphany (haven’t we all though?), you know what tends to happen the second you stop staring at your computer screen. I’ve never been a believer in the wondrous claims of brain-stimulating games. I want to think, not have an app do the thinking for me.

Do something you already know you aren’t good at

When I was younger, I used to want to be an artist. Painting; drawing; sculpting; I did it all, and I loved every minute of it. There comes a point, though, when kids either cross over a line or don’t. When you’re little, no matter what you draw or paint or sculpt, it’s good. It gets put up on the refrigerator or put on a shelf. But eventually, bad art stops being cute. Some kids progress, and learn how to make better art. I was bad at it, and thankfully, realized that soon enough to shift my focus to music and writing, forms of art I was a little bit more skilled at.

However – don’t tell anyone – sometimes I still draw. Sometimes it’s just doodling, but other times, I dig out my sketchbook from way back when, and I start drawing landscapes and people and all the things I used to draw when I was eight. It’s just awful enough to laugh at, and don’t ask to see it, because I’d rather burn it than show it to anyone. But I do it, still, because it exercises a different part of my brain than writing does. There’s a visual component that writing doesn’t have in quite the same way. Because I’m not good at it, and don’t really have any desire to improve, it challenges me just enough to inspire me to put my pencil down and get back to writing.

This could be anything. Playing a sport, or a video game, or DIY’ing something. Creating something, even if you aren’t good at it, still forces you to engage in a creative activity. Even better, it frees you, in a way. There’s no pressure for me to draw something well, because I don’t need or want to. It makes you laugh at how awful you are at using a hot glue gun or a paintbrush or kicking a ball into a net. I think all of us need to do things like this regularly. Once you try to do something you’re terrible at, and then return to writing, you won’t feel quite as doubtful about your ability to craft a story that makes sense. Trust me.

As writers, we tend to obsess over small things – whether this character is relatable or that event could scientifically actually happen in real life. These are important details, and we’re trained to pay attention to them. But we can’t forget to, every once in awhile, let go of all that and just focus on being creative. Why do so many writers get bored so easily? Because all they do is write. You have to do other things, too. Especially things that make you think, and force you to have fun. Laugh a little, why don’t you? I’m staring at the literal character sketch (an actual sketch of an actual fictional person, or a sorry attempt at one) I tried to draw and I’m smiling. I’m going to go write a story about that character now. How about you?

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 for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.