When Words Alone Aren’t Enough


I’m sorry for all the less helpful or constructive, more personal posts going up lately. I really am. I’m trying my best to create the best possible content for you. This is a really hard time of year for me. Not an excuse, I know. Some days all you can do is your absolute best, even if it’s not the best you’ve ever done. I’m a perfectionist, but I’m learning, slowly, that it’s okay not to be all the time.

Sometimes, I really struggle with words. I’m better at writing them down than I am speaking them out loud as it is, so when even writing them seems impossible, I’m stuck. It’s not very often that I find myself so out of sorts I can’t even write.

The first thing I do when I wake up, usually, is fill up a few pages in my journal with thoughts. It’s a healthy, necessary activity for me. I don’t post personal things on social media, so it’s how I work through my frustration, confusion, doubt, even excitement and the good kind of anticipation (my favorite emotion).

I know I’m in trouble when even journaling is a struggle.

Mind you, I’m not living a terrible life. I’m really not. The things wearing me down are big things in my head, because that’s how everyone views their own personal tribulations. It’s not about, “Oh, I have it much worse than you.” Or it shouldn’t be, anyway. To you, that thing is your worst thing. To you, it’s an unbearable obstacle, and if you can’t get around it, you have to figure out your own way to work through it.

Usually, for me, words are my way of working through it. Lately, words alone haven’t been quite enough. Toward the end of every year I start looking back into the archives of my life, so to speak, which can be both constructive and destructive. I do it a lot less than I used to. But there’s an anniversary coming up I’m not looking forward to, and as much as I love the holidays, it’s stressful as an adult. Especially when you’re the kind of person who would rather give than receive, worry about others instead of yourself.

People keep asking me what I want for Christmas. I don’t have an answer for them. I want abstract things. For my friends and family to be happy. Energy to keep going so I can continue helping other people. Time to reflect without feeling guilty about it.

I’ve been turning to songwriting (lyrics and music, I studied that a little in school too, as if two degrees weren’t enough) to handle sorting through all these memories, which I haven’t done in a long time. You saw an early draft of one a few weeks ago. It’s weird to me. It’s like writing a poem, but it’s different. It takes words and gives them a completely different feel.

So instead of writing a letter to someone I miss, which I’ve tried and can’t do because I don’t know what to say in what order, I write a song instead. It just flows right out onto the page. I’ve been writing songs for over 10 years (not necessarily good ones), and I still don’t understand how my thoughts and emotions just spill out when I’m putting words to a melody, as opposed to writing straight prose.

Whatever gets you through the day, I guess.

Eventually, when I’m ready, I’m going to start sharing these songs via Storie. I love blogging and talking to cameras (sometimes) and being honest and trying to be helpful, but as a writer and creator, when one form of storytelling doesn’t work, doesn’t satisfy you, doesn’t send the message you want to send, you have to find another way, a better way.

Does that scare me? Duh. It terrifies me. It took me years to work up the courage to blog and share my writing with other people. My music is personal and deep and I don’t like exposing myself that way. But I can’t keep writing posts like this to you because I don’t have another outlet. I need another medium to express the things that are bothering me, so I can focus on helping you write stuff better.

Just know that I’m trying. I’m doing the best I can. You are in my thoughts always. If you have any suggestions about ‘how-to’ or ‘blank ways to write blank’ posts, send them my way, if you can. That would really help me continue to help you over the next few weeks, which is, truthfully, all I want to be able to do. I mean it.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Austin Kirk/flickr.com.

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.

This Is Something I Don’t Normally Do …


Maybe this is a little selfish and maybe it won’t mean much or anything to you. But I’m feeling a little overwhelmed today. It’s one of those frustrating days when I have a lot of creative energy and a lot of ideas and not very much extra time to spend working on most of them.

I am working on a special project coming up in December (more details coming soon) in addition to updating this blog, writing a book, my podcast, etc, etc, and since I’m a little pressed for time and sort of anxious about my monstrous to-do list, I’m going to combine a few of these things so I can provide you with some content that may, or may not, resonate with you in some way.

So here’s a little creative writing for your enjoyment and my sanity. If you’re not interested, that’s okay, and I can assure you this isn’t something I currently do or will plan to do very often here, but Novelty is all about writing, and sometimes, that means you get pieces of my brain in the process.

Enjoy. Or don’t. I’ll be back with a regular post tomorrow.



It’s the end of the school day

You’re holding back tears

You’d think this would have ended

After all these years

You climb up to your treehouse

And within the hour

You’re a warrior princess

Scaling the tallest ivory tower

Protecting the innocent

From the fire and the lies

Of the kings and queens and nobles

You’ve come to despise

You’re confident and strong

You’re powerful and brave

But you’re afraid to climb down

When you know things will never

Be quite the same

In the large crowded hallways

On a Wednesday afternoon

You’ve avoided the danger

But you fear it’s coming soon

You don’t feel safe

Outside the walls of your treehouse

The words breathed like fire

Meant to take you down

Are too much to bear

When you’re already tired

From the battles you’ve fought

Against the queens you once admired

You try to blend in

They always single you out

You’re not a princess or a hero

You’re nothing, you don’t count

But inside your fortress

You’re invincible

You can be who you want

You can conquer the world


When nobody sees you

It’s just better that way

When it doesn’t matter

That they’re all beautiful

And you’ll never be the same

Everyone has their own way out

Their own way to escape

From the pain and the doubt

So write your own story

It might never come true

But at least you’ll always have

A little more faith in you

There will always be those

Who don’t ever approve

Of the brave things you say

Or the nice things you do

Keep your chin up

Even when it’s impossible

Then run to your treehouse

And become unstoppable

Even for awhile

Think of how many days

You’ve already made it out alive

I bet you years from now

You’ll be glad you survived

Maybe you won’t be

The ruler of a kingdom

But you can still be a hero

To those who need to hear

They’re still worth the world

It’s the end of the school year

It’s been a long time

Since you’ve climbed up to your treehouse

Without needing to cry

It’s great to pretend you can conquer the world

But the words don’t burn quite so much these days

© 2015, Meg Dowell.


Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of pinterest.com.

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.


Just Write: An Interview with Songwriter Jacqie Brooks


Putting ideas into words is a writer’s greatest thrill. He or she will never pass up the opportunity to weave together strings of words to craft an elaborate storyline, regardless of the form. Songwriting, just like writing prose or poetry, takes the process a few steps further, adding a musical element to the mix.

This week we sat down with Jacqie Brooks, fashion/beauty enthusiast, editor and fellow lover of words, to talk about a genre of storytelling we haven’t covered here before: songwriting.

Ideas come from everywhere. Where do you go when you’re in need of inspiration?

In every facet of life, I tend to just find inspiration in everything. The latest song I’m working on sprouted from hearing a George Strait song on the radio on my drive back to my house from my family’s house. And George Strait songs remind me of being a teenager, and so the song is about being 14, before relationships were stressful.

But I also will see people doing things and create a story in my head off of it. I also get a lot of inspiration from other artists. Growing up, I was obsessed with Kate Voegele and Sara Bareilles. Their songs are so personal and clever.

When did you start writing songs? How did it come about?

I think I actually started writing songs around the sixth grade—they weren’t very good. But there was always something I got out of listening to music. It wasn’t necessarily that I just liked listening to music, but the fact someone wrote this song that portrays a story and a feeling was really cool to me. The composition of the words was so pleasing to me, and still is. So I started writing things down.

What’s the first thing you do when you get an idea, or a set of lyrics in your head?

Writing for me happens one of two ways, usually. I either think of words that I like or I think of a tune that I like. So if it’s words, I immediately write it down—on a napkin, in my phone, on the back of a receipt … And then if I have time, I usually will try to come up with other lines that could potentially go in the song.

If I have a melody or tune in my head, I try to form some kind of wording that makes sense, and I will write it down and actually hum or sing it into the voice recorder in my phone. I am a horrid singer, so absolutely no one hears those. But they are there. And I will revisit them when I’m ready to finish or work on the song.

When you’re writing songs, what do you usually write about?

Okay, everyone gets on Taylor Swift about it, but I probably write most about relationships. Honestly, it’s so easy. It comes so naturally. You’re in constant relationships—not necessarily romantic relationships. And it’s easy to build another story off of one reality. I’ve been trying really hard to write those fantastic “finding yourself” songs, but it’s a lot harder to do that and make it relatable.

How has writing helped you along as you’ve gotten older?

For me, my songbook is my journal. It’s my life. Even if I didn’t finish something, I flip through the pages and see where I was in life at a given point. I do journal, in more of a prose format. And that’s great. But to me, reading through my songs is when I see myself at my most creative or hurt times in life. I get to go back to that and either realize why I was so hurt by something and how I learned to overcome it and where I am now or I get to see myself being so happy and enjoying myself so much to write it down.

Do you ever revise any of them, or just leave them be?

Sometimes I revisit and work on them, particularly if [they are] unfinished. Rarely do I go through and change something that’s finished. I usually have worked on those long enough to be satisfied with them.

How do you think telling stories through song lyrics differs from telling them through an article or a book?

There are a lot of people who don’t like to read, but who doesn’t like music? The stories [in] songs take a situation everyone can relate to and turn it into something short and catchy and memorable.

I also think it’s a lot more challenging to write songs than some of the other forms of writing. You’re more limited. You don’t want a 20-minute song. Also, you want it to make sense. Rhyming is harder than you think!

What do you love most about writing?

I’ve just liked to write for as long as I can remember. I’ve always known it’s something I’m good at. And I love the satisfaction I get after finishing something and being happy with the end product.

Has anyone ever given you a piece of writing advice you’ll never forget?

I recently sat in on a songwriting session with Victoria Banks and Emily Shackelton in Nashville—they’ve written songs for Sara Evans and other country stars—“Gotta Have You” and “Can’t Stop Loving You” for example. They were talking about what they do when they get stuck, and they both said, “Just write.” Eventually something is going to come to mind, and something is going to work.

Whatever your method for bringing your ideas to life, we believe you can do it! Take a few moments today to look back at some of your old work to inspire you to create something new tomorrow. And of course, if you have any more songwriting tips or revelations to share with our readers, or songwriting questions for Jacqie, leave a comment!

Image courtesy of Jacqie Brooks.