Just Start the Thing — Even If You’re Not Sure You’ll Keep Doing It

You have nothing to lose.

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10 years ago to the day (as I’m writing this), I did more than decide I wanted to start a blog. I registered for my very own free account on WordPress.com, took a deep breath, and wrote my first-ever blog post.

To be honest, I didn’t take it too seriously. I mean, technically, my very first sentence publicly visible to the world was “Hello, people of Earth!” Ah, 2009. How I miss thee.

I thought that blogging was going to end up being this thing that I started just to see if it caught any traction. I was 16, had just gotten an essay published in a magazine for the first time, and was convinced I could write and publish a book before I turned 18.

And to do that, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a blog like Meg Cabot’s blog. She was my favorite author, and we had the same name, so. Why not?

Many times when you’re that young you don’t tend to stick with things for very long. You end up trying a bunch of different things and abandoning most of them for things you like more or are better at or that will get you college scholarships or whatever. But also when you’re new to something. You’ve never tried it before. You want to see what it’s like. If it’s worth the effort. If you’ll fall in love with it.

I never thought I would fall in love with blogging. I am shy. I don’t like sharing personal things about me with even people I know. And somehow I knew that blogging about writing would mean I’d have to be open and honest and admit when I failed and let people know when I’d succeeded.

Mostly, I figured no one would read it and I’d have no social accountability and I’d just give it up after a while.

For a while, no one really read it at all. The content wasn’t great, it wasn’t consistent, and for the first few years, I mostly just complained about school. (And for a short stretch of time I became very obsessed with saving the environment/planet? That was weird. Not that I don’t still care about the planet. I do.)

But the most unexpected thing that happened after following through on my decision to start a blog was that I figured out I REALLY LIKED TO BLOG.

Even when no one read what I had to say, I felt better just having released it into the world. And I started to learn a lot about writing and publishing and being professional online just by keeping up with my blog.

So after taking a chance on something I’d never done before — just to see what might happen — I decided to keep doing it. I still figured I’d give up eventually, like when college got too busy or something. But oops, I never quit. In fact, my blog survived the end of high school and college and grad school and now it’s a decade later and it’s a bigger part of my life than I ever imagined it would be.

From what I can remember (it was a long time ago, after all), I didn’t hesitate when the thought of starting a blog popped into my head. I didn’t sit on it for months wondering if I should do it. I didn’t spend weeks trying to come up with the perfect name — I just picked one (Writer’s Blog — agh) and would end up changing it about four times before it became Novelty Revisions.

Basically, I had the idea to try starting my own blog. I obtained the right tools (a WordPress domain) and went ahead and published my first post right then and there. I didn’t worry about whether or not I’d be bad at it (I was). I didn’t worry about what other people might think about it (my friends and family thought it was cool even though they never actually read it).

I didn’t even listen to any of the excuses that might have distracted me or prevented me from doing what I wanted to do. I just decided it was going to happen, clicked a few buttons, and made it happen.

The thing about creating is, you don’t know what something is going to be like until you dive in and start doing it. You don’t know the time commitments, the energy requirements. You don’t even know if you’re going to like it or what skills you’re going to need to work on improving the most until you’re in there figuring it all out.

So my advice to you, if you’re thinking about starting something but aren’t sure if you’ll be able to make it work, is to just sit down and give it a shot. You have absolutely nothing to lose. And you never know if, 10 years later, that will have ended up being the best decision you ever could have made.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

12 Things Non-Writers Still Think Are True About Writers

Just … no.

1. We’re perfect at spelling and grammar.

2. We don’t have “real” jobs.

3. We’re lazy.

4. We prefer not to be social and would rather sit alone writing.

5. They can’t talk to us about anything except writing.

6. We only want to talk about our work.

7. We never have to worry about money.

8. We all write/want to write books.

9. We’re difficult to work with.

10. We have time to read/critique/edit their manuscripts [for free].

11. If they don’t have an idea for a story, we can give them one of ours.

12. Our work is “easy.”


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

Just Admit You Failed — Then Start Over

It’s time to accept it.

As a collective population, we are terrified of failing.

So much so that we often avoid doing things we might not succeed at because there’s a chance we’ll fall flat on our faces and embarrass ourselves to death, or something.

But some of us do manage to try things we hope we won’t fail at … and keep trying … and keep trying … even though what we’re trying isn’t working and we just keep doing the same exact things over and over praying that this time they will finally work.

This is, in case you hadn’t already guessed, a major waste of time.

You’d be much better off admitting that what you’re doing tanked and you need to stop doing that thing before you hurt yourself.

Let’s say you’re trying to write a book. You keep setting a goal of 1,000 words a day knowing you could make it happen. But every day, you wait until 9 pm to start writing, and every day, you decide you’ll just go to bed/watch Netflix and do it tomorrow instead.

Until you realize you’ve barely written any of your story, you’ve lost interest, and you’ve been saying “I’ll do it tomorrow” for at least 100 days in a row.

Just admit you failed already.

Admit that you didn’t do all you could have done.

Admit you were responsible for Making Things Happen, and didn’t take that responsibility seriously enough.

Admit you messed up, and those mistakes could have been avoided.

But it’s not ever just because you were honest and accepted defeat.

The next step, once you’ve admitted you failed, is to pick yourself back up and try again.

This does not mean you jump right back in and keep doing the exact same things you were doing before. If it didn’t work the first time, it’s probably not going to work the second time. If you couldn’t write a book because you spent too much time watching Netflix, you can’t start your second book while also planning out how many shows you’re going to watch on Netflix.

If you tried to write a book and couldn’t do it, maybe you’d be better off starting with essays, blog posts, or short stories instead.

If you tried to start a blog and couldn’t make it work, maybe you need to first train yourself to write regularly in a journal, even if you don’t share those thoughts with the world (yet).

It doesn’t really matter how you change things up, as long as you decide how you’re going to do things differently and actively attempt to do so.

What this does is prevent you from spiraling into a doubt-saturated puddle of “I can’t do anything, I’ll never be a successful writer, poor me, I quit.” Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Do better. The only way to fail is to not do anything, and the best way to prevent repeat failures is to just keep doing stuff until something works.

I mean, the process and strategy going into it might be a little more complex than that. But you get the idea.

There is nothing — and I mean NOTHING — wrong with failing as a writer or creator. I can pretty much guarantee it has happened to every single person who makes things for a living AT LEAST once in their lives (but probably more than once, if we’re being honest — which we are).

But there IS something wrong with taking failure to mean you can’t achieve your goals and shouldn’t bother trying. Or avoiding the fact that you failed at all.

First, be honest. Then, keep going. You gain nothing from curling up into a ball and crying about how you want to be a writer but can’t. Just keep writing. It doesn’t matter what. It doesn’t matter if it’s poorly written or the plot is overdone or your dialogue is terrible. IT DOESN’T MATTER, as long as you wrote it and you’re proud of yourself for making that attempt.

The more you write, the more you’ll likely feel motivated to write. And the cycle just continues.

We fail. We get back up. We do better, at least a little bit, every single time.

This is the way of the writer’s journey. Whatever stage of it you’re in, just be glad you’re still in it. And don’t give up, no matter what.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

Writers: There Will Always Be Something In Your Way.

The dust will never settle.

As the second week of 2019 approached, I was feeling ecstatic. I finally had a writing-and-everything-else routine that was working for me. I was completing everything on my to-do list. I was making plans for how I was going to make it better. Everything was going so well. I was DOING IT.

And then Life Happened.

I don’t need to bore you with the details. Suddenly I found myself unable to concentrate, unable to do anything more than the absolute minimum. I was back to my 2018 ways: Rolling out of bed with just enough time to get ready. Not eating well, drinking way too much coffee, and — most importantly for our cases — barely writing.

My time was, once again, out of my control. Where I had to direct my energy and focus was out of my control. Something else needed my attention, and writing had to be the first thing to go.

But in the midst of all that, I remembered something very important: This had been the first time things out of my control prevented me from writing. And it would not be the last time, either.

I realized two things: One, that my priorities had temporarily shifted and Thing A needed more attention right now than Thing B. And two, that just because I had to put off writing for a temporary period of time did not mean I was failing, lazy, or that my goals were shattered and I’d never be able to get back on track.

We fall into two mindsets when things don’t go our way. Sometimes we fill ourselves with so much guilt and negative self-talk that we convince ourselves getting back up and trying again won’t even be worth it. And so we don’t bother trying again.

Sometimes we say, “Oh, this too shall pass. I’ll get through this and then back to what I was doing before.” But we never go back, because the second we solve one problem, another one comes along, forcing us into a vicious cycle of I’ll-do-it-when-the-dust-settles.

But the dust will never settle. And we can’t feel guilty for putting off what we want to do because someone or something else needs us to put them/it first.

I immediately started feeling guilty for not being able to stick to my new routine — a routine I’d already grown to love. But I had no reason to feel that way. This Life Happening was not my fault and it wasn’t about me. But it also required me to put my work aside, which is, I’ll admit, a lesson God or the Force or the universe has tried to teach me a thousand times and I still haven’t really learned a thing.

When things happen, you have to let them happen. If you can continue on as you are, with some minor adjustments, then do so. If you can’t, don’t submerge yourself in guilt. Sometimes you need to give other things your full attention, and writing would take away from that. It’s OK not to write if you have a good reason to step away for a minute.

Know the difference between an excuse (“I don’t feel like writing”) and a reason (“I need to take care of my mom/kid/dog/neighbor”). Know that just because you have to hit pause doesn’t mean you can’t hit the same button again soon.

And most importantly, don’t get too down on yourself if life just keeps Happening over and over again. Sometimes there are bigger things to deal with than finishing your novel. Contrary to what many believe, writers don’t live in a bubble. We deal with the same real-world things everyone else does. That’s why it’s so hard. We have to learn to ride the waves, recover from the crashes, and keep our heads above water as best we can, no matter what.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

How to Let Go of the Pressure

A lot of people will tell you how to write. You don’t have to do it their way.

There is only one thing that has ever tempted me to quit blogging, to stop writing books, to stop trying so hard to wedge myself in among the elite writers — the experts who didn’t have to prove they knew what they were talking about because their words had already done it for them.

Pressure.

For years, people kept telling me I should write a book. Not asking me when I was going to, not politely checking in to see what I might be working on. Telling me it had to be done. “You should write a book! Let me know when you finish a book so I can read it! Have you finished your book yet?”

And this just kept going on and on until at one point I almost decided the pressure was no longer worth it. I wanted to make the conscious choice to write a book. I didn’t want to do it because someone else who apparently knew what was best for me better than I did said I needed to do it.

Something similar has happened with blogging on several different occasions. I got so tired of every blog expert and self-proclaimed guru saying my blog didn’t matter if I wasn’t making money/writing a newsletter/selling something that I almost just gave up altogether.

Why? Because as much as I wanted to make money doing what I loved and grow my audience more quickly and give people more of the help they needed, I also cared more about doing it my way than feeling like I had to do it the way someone else “told” me it needed to be done.

The pressure almost got to me. The pressure to be better, to be perfect, to work harder, to sleep less, to proofread more, to guest post, to only write stories that would sell millions of copies.

But I didn’t. Instead, I let it go.

I think there’s a difference between giving well-meaning writing advice and demanding someone does something the way you want it to be done. I might write a post on this blog about keeping a schedule to make your writing time more productive, but I would never tell you that you HAD to wake up early or HAD to write during your lunch break or HAD to do something I sometimes do just because it might work for me.

I stopped paying attention to everyone who suggested I do things differently because it wasn’t the way they think it should be done. And almost instantly, I felt a weight lift from my chest. I was able to let go of the pressure to write more/better/smarter because I decided I would only change if I thought it was the best move for me.

Now, I personally consider my blog a success because I put a lot of work into it doing things the way I know work best and I get the results I think I deserve for it.

And I’m enjoying working on my book(s) a lot more than I used to because I’m not sitting down to write wondering if every word I type is what an editor or publisher or reader would approve of.

I get more done, now, because I try very hard not to care what other people think.

If I need help or advice, I go looking for it from people/sources I trust. I try their suggestions. If they work, great. If they don’t, then I move on to something else. And if it does work, but I feel overwhelmed because it’s not a method I prefer despite its effectiveness, I only force myself to continue if I truly think it’s worth it.

Will I publish a book someday, on my own time, using the methods I think will be best for me and my audience? I really hope so. But I’m not going to stress about it.

And will I continue channeling what I hope is helpful and worthwhile advice and inspiration into this blog? Absolutely. But if there’s ever a point it’s no longer feasible (whether financially, professionally, or personally), then I’ll make the decision I need to make in that moment based on the circumstances.

Don’t let other people put pressure on you to do things a certain way. And don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be the best. Just try to be better, and push yourself a little. But not so much that you burn out or start to hate what you’re doing.

Let go of the pressure. It’s not worth the mental, emotional, or physical exhaustion.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

Why An Idea Always Sounds Better in Your Head

It was such a great idea! What happened?

It’s happened to every single one of us at least once since we started writing.

You’ll just be minding your own business and BOOM! A brand-new idea for a book or a poem or a video or a song pops into your head and wow, it’s a GREAT idea. You should start working on it RIGHT NOW!

And you do. But you very quickly get the feeling your idea — the same idea that sounded so great and that got you so excited five minutes ago — is actually a terrible idea.

To be clear, there are many ideas that sound great at first but really do end up being awful ideas that aren’t worth pursuing at all. But this isn’t always the case.

Sometimes, the idea is still good. It just looks and feels different when you start pulling it apart. Why is that?

What it really comes down to is that when you get an idea for a book, for example, you immediately envision the story unfolding, everything coming together neatly in a set number of pages. You might even, without realizing it, picture yourself holding the finished product in your hands — all this within seconds of thinking, “You know, this would make a great story for a book.”

But then you actually sit down with that idea still burning bright inside your mind and realize you’re not actually looking at anything that even resembles a book.

It’s just a blank page. And your idea is still starting fires in your head.

Of course, there’s an obvious solution to this problem: In order to get the finished book you want other people to see/read/enjoy, you have to glue your butt to a chair anywhere from several months to many years just to get one draft of the thing written down.

And then you have to edit and rewrite most of that draft you worked so hard on. AND THEN you either have to do it again on your own or find someone who will (for a price) help you turn your mess of a story into something that can potentially be sold to a publisher.

(I know there are other routes to go besides this one, but when I started writing books, self-publishing wasn’t as widely accepted or common as it is now, so I’m sticking with this imaginary situation for the sake of simplicity.)

That’s right … you can’t just greet a new idea, snap your fingers, and flip through the glossy, finished pages of your novel. You have to actually do a bunch of work to put your idea into words — and then some.

I’m not saying people who have ideas but never do anything with them are “lazy” or anything like that. Not at all. I do think, however, there are some people who are fortunate enough to have been taught the art of discipline growing up, and then there are those who were not taught that and have to learn it through years of practice.

And unfortunately, not everyone has the time/resources/energy to put in the kind of practice required to become skilled at the art of having an idea and physically doing something with it.

Can anyone learn it? Absolutely. Do many people make excuses as to why they can’t? Most definitely. But I think the first step is to acknowledge that you’re the only one responsible for turning your idea into a book or short story or whatever it is you feel called to create. You have to do the work. And it’s going to be challenging. You’re going to have to push yourself harder than you ever have before, every time you do this, to get it done.

An idea sounds better in your head than it does when you start writing it because up until now, you were looking at it at surface level. You saw all the fun and cool parts that made you excited about writing it. But now you’ve started dissecting it and really thinking about how to make it into a story that works at all angles, and well … there are things you haven’t figured out yet. Things wrong with it. Things you’re maybe not really looking forward to writing, but that have to be written to complete the story and complement the parts you’re excited about.

Is it going to be difficult? Yes. But you can do it. We all can. You just need to give yourself some time to work through every bump in the road.

No matter what, just keep writing. As long as you keep moving forward, you have a greater chance of figuring it all out and writing a pretty decent first draft of a book. You got this!


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

Why People Say Mean Things About Your Writing (and You)

Not every troll is out to make you miserable.

For a long time, I made it a point to avoid writing about anything controversial. I avoid confrontation whenever I can, which is one thing I love about this blog. I’m just here trying to help people and sharing my love of writing. I keep things positive because I want people to feel good when they come here.

But in the real world, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid conflict. Which is what I discovered when I started writing about diets and Star Wars (two completely unrelated topics, but stick with me).

I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve muted/blocked on Twitter after they’ve mentioned me in posts responding to my articles. These people, on the surface, usually disagree with something I’ve written or don’t have a deep enough understanding of what I’m talking about to form a coherent response (or just choose not to).

And while it’s common to assume all these “trolls” are 30-year-old men sitting in their basements looking for anything and everything there is to make a fuss about, I did have an interaction with one person that really changed my perspective.

Someone took the time to “reach out” to me on Twitter about an article I had written to let me know she did not like it. But it wasn’t that she disagreed with me. She felt the need to let me know that her 11-year-old daughter knew more about the topic than I apparently did, that my article was the worst she’d ever read, and probably some other comments my brain didn’t feel the need to store in my long-term memory banks.

So this woman was a mother of a young child, had probably just dropped that child off at school, and may have intended to seek out some information about a topic she was interested in.

But when my words didn’t align with her beliefs, she took to Twitter to vent her frustrations. Which probably happens all the time. Except she went a step further and tagged me directly in her post.

Normally, I would have simply rolled my eyes and ignored her comments. But this happened to be an article I’d worked very hard on, and if I’m being honest, I was proud of it. The amount of research and careful planning I’d put into the piece made me a little defensive.

I did not respond unkindly to her. However, I did firmly let her know that if she was going to argue with my words, I was going to defend my point — and my dignity.

To my surprise, she ended up apologizing for speaking to me the way she had. Not very well … I believe the phrase “I don’t know why I acted like that” were used. But she made an effort. I’ll never forget that.

There are only a few things I could infer about the person behind this Twitter account after interacting with her.

  • She was angry at herself, took it out on me, and never expected me to respond.
  • She never would have said those things to my face.
  • She did not expect me to respond directly to her comments.
  • She really did feel bad about lashing out at me once she realized I was a real person.
  • She has probably done the same thing a hundred times after interacting with me and will continue to do it because it unfortunately makes her feel empowered.

I legitimately feel bad for her. She must live such a sad, unfulfilled life, to spend her time hate-reading articles just so she can not only confirm how much she disagrees with me, but put in the effort to find me online (which is not hard to do, but still) and project her insecurities on someone she has never met.

The reality is, most of the people trying to tear you down by “commenting on” your work do not care about you or themselves. There is something going on in their lives that has made them so miserable or angry that the only relief they can find comes through trolling writers on social media.

They are never attacking you personally because they do not know you.

Chances are, they haven’t read your work thoroughly enough — or at all — to make intelligent comments or arguments about it. Nor are they interested in doing so.

They’re just looking for someone to yell at. That’s really all it is. You just happened to be the person they decided to take their emotions out on today.

Do I recommend responding to these people? Absolutely not. Do not engage!

This is one of the only times I’ve responded to someone on Twitter tearing apart my writing or myself, and almost every other time did not end well. Don’t feed the trolls. They’re doing it for attention. Give them the attention they want, and they’ll keep coming back.

Maybe I made a mistake letting her know I could hear her. Maybe I only fueled her fire and encouraged her to do the same thing to other people.

Or maybe she realized how pointless it was to waste time doing it. I’ll never know; I muted her as soon as she started apologizing and making excuses for her behavior.

But the experience did help me understand this population of miserable people a bit better.

Try not to take it personally. They don’t know you. They can’t touch you. They can only yell loudly in an attempt to drown out their own sorrows. And they are most definitely not worth your time or emotional energy.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

Why No Writer is Ever an ‘Overnight Success’

Let’s retire this concept, shall we?

It’s the way of the publishing world that some books get so big so fast that it feels like everyone is talking about them all at once, all of a sudden.

And sometimes, the authors that produce these books are called “overnight successes” because they were pretty much unknown before their book got big.

I personally don’t love this phrase. It creates the wrong idea about what it actually takes to even write the first draft of a decent book.

I think the term “overnight success” surfaced because once someone discovers a book or author or thing they like, all they want to do is talk about it. And the more people that talk about it, the more who start paying attention and realize “Oh, this book/author/thing is really cool! I’ve never heard of them/it before! They just came out of nowhere and blew me away!”

But most of you reading this know that last part is far from true. Ninety-nine percent of the time, a creator doesn’t just make something on the first try and suddenly “get famous” because of it. While it’s not uncommon for something or someone to “go viral” on Twitter or whatever, you can’t — and most of us don’t — spend excess time and energy purposely trying to rise to the top too quickly.

Success that last is slow-going and slow-growing. Most writers work for years before they even start making money doing it. To call someone who has worked hard for years to get to where they are an “overnight success” is almost insulting, if you think about it. This person wrote 10 never-published novels before writing the book that landed on the bestseller list that made it onto some celebrity’s “book club list” and is now being made into a movie.

It actually took, like, effort. And hard work. And a lot of patience. It didn’t happen “overnight.” And success, especially in writing, almost never does.

I sincerely believe too many aspiring writers never make their dreams come true because they go into it thinking they’re going to find success quickly. That’s not how it works. Your first book is always going to be terrible, your first blog post is always going to be worse than your 10,000th. No one ever starts out writing making good things. We all start in the same place. Some of us advance. Others don’t have the patience.

Don’t ever start writing with the belief that your effort is going to pay off quickly. It’s just not a realistic ambition. I’m not saying you can’t “make it” as a writer — quite the opposite, actually. I’m saying you’re setting yourself up for major disappointment if you think you can start writing a book today and get it published six months from now.

Expect to spend a long time refining your skills and getting a little better every day.

Expect to face rejection head-on — over and over again.

Expect to write things that aren’t good. And to write good things that never get seen by the masses.

Expect to fail, and to succeed in ways both big and small throughout your career.

Good writing takes skill and energy and patience and insane dedication. It is not something that can be achieved overnight. It never has been, and never will be.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

12 Things Wrong With Online Publishing (and How It Makes Writers’ Lives Harder)

It’s not all bad … but a lot of it’s pretty bad, sometimes.

I’ve worked in online publishing for long enough to both appreciate its benefits and loathe its drawbacks. I’m grateful for it — it’s because of it that I can afford to eat and work on my own projects outside normal business hours. I’d recommend the industry to anyone who wants to be a writer.

But there is nothing about it that’s “easier” than more traditional methods like working for a newspaper or selling a book with the help of a literary agent. Self-publishing, freelance writing, and the like are so common now that the same problems arise on the internet — and some unique ones, too.

1. Sometimes it feels like if you don’t stay “relevant” on social media, no one will buy/read your stuff.

2. It often prioritizes quantity over quality.

3. You don’t have to be good at writing to make money writing … which isn’t always fair for people who are good at writing.

4. People without degrees sometimes miss out, and people with degrees sometimes feel like they wasted their time.

5. It creates the false belief that “anyone can do it” but doesn’t tell you how to do the work to make it happen.

6. Ads. Ads. So many ads. People hate ads, yet they don’t want to pay money to read an article.

7. There are a lot of people who don’t want to pay writers what they’re worth — or anything at all.

8. Readers also take free content for granted and aren’t readily willing to pay creators for their hard work.

9. So sometimes writers resort to cheap methods to get clicks (think “clickbait”).

10. It’s oversaturated. Everyone is trying to do the exact same thing you are at the exact same time.

11. And many writing jobs are given to those willing or able to work for less than the average U.S. minimum wage.

12. There aren’t online support groups for struggling writers … or are there? ;)


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.

How to Write When You’re Actually Busy and Stressed and Everything is Chaos

Because it’s not always an excuse; it’s a real problem.

Many aspiring writers make up excuses in an attempt to explain why they haven’t been writing. Things like “I’m busy” and “I’m tired” are among the most common go-tos. “I don’t know what to write about” is another, but there’s no justifying that one. Write anything. It doesn’t matter what.

But these things aren’t always excuses. It would be unfair of me — or anyone — to assume that when you say you’re too busy to write, you’re somehow faking it or exaggerating.

Many times, excuses are excuses, and the only way to get past those is to suck it up and do the thing(s) you don’t want to do anyway.

What happens when “I’m too busy to write” isn’t an excuse, but instead a legitimate problem preventing you from writing as much or as often as you want to?

While I’ll never ease up on my no-nonsense approach to writing — I have no patience for your excuses and neither should you! — I’ve definitely softened toward the segment of aspiring writers who really can’t seem to get a handle on making writing fit into their lives.

You can probably thank my first baby (she’s a dog, but still) and my first long-term relationship for this subtle change in perspective. It turns out 23-year-old me had the right idea when she said busyness isn’t a reason not to write, but she kind of didn’t understand what happens when you’re no longer the only living thing you’re responsible for.

Ah, adulthood. Isn’t it great?

So basically, I get it. It’s 8 p.m. on a Thursday night and while you technically have an hour of space open to write and you might even know what you’d start working on if you did, by the end of a long day, there’s sometimes just nothing left. It’s not that you don’t WANT to write or that you’d rather be doing other things. It’s that you physically and mentally cannot push yourself any further than you already have.

Does that sound familiar? I bet it does. Because no matter your age or how experienced of a writer you are — no matter how driven you might be to accomplish your goals — everyone gets tired.

And while “tired” may not seem like a great reason not to write on the surface, you can’t usually help it when you’re in it. Sometimes I get so tired my entire body aches. That’s my body begging me to stop forcing it to do things. Could I keep going — write just one more page? I could. But should I?

What do we do about this? If we’re really busy and stressed and tired and it’s keeping us away from writing — and we can’t just drop things to make writing fit — what the heck comes next?

Our two-word solution is as follows: Writing. Schedule.

Now, I know a lot of you might hate schedules and/or the idea of scheduling out your writing time. But (ah, here it comes, the tough love train CHOO CHOO BABYYYYY) sometimes you gotta do things you don’t wanna do if you want good stuff to happen to you.

We often end up scheduling all kinds of things we’d much rather do spontaneously to increase the odds we’ll actually follow through on the promises we’ve made to ourselves or others. Workouts. Alone time with our significant others. Family dinners. Taking our puppies for walks.

And writing. Writing, writing, writing.

You are busy and stressed and tired. And when you know you can’t push yourself further to write, on most occasions, you really shouldn’t have to.

But if you take a moment to step back and look at your routine, I can pretty much guarantee you will find spaces here and there where writing is possible. And you’d better fill at least one of those spaces with words — even if it’s only a 10-minute time slot. Fill it. Not all your free time. Just some of it.

And let those around you know that — as much as possible — that time, whether it be 10 minutes or an hour or one afternoon per week, is for you, for writing. If they support you, great. If not, do what you can to try and make it work. I know not having support is frustrating, but make do with what you have, as much as you can.

Schedule it, plan it … and then do it.

When it comes time to write, treat that time like writing time and get to writing. Don’t use that time to shop, check social media, or eat (uh … unless you can eat and write simultaneously). Sit down and do it. Even if you don’t feel like it. This is your time — maybe the only time you have. Use it wisely.

I obviously can’t speak for every person individually here. So if you’re struggling with this and there’s a specific barrier standing in your way that doesn’t align with what I’ve written here, tell me about it. I want to help. If you want it.

Is making time for writing hard? Yes. Is it possible? Most definitely, yes.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.  Join us on Patreon.