WARNING: Do Not Do As I Do (Yet)

Advice from a person who writes a lot … telling you not to write a lot. Sort of.

I don’t always set the best example when it comes to my go-to piece of writing advice.

Here’s what I believe: You do not have to write 24/7 to become a successful writer.

Due to … I don’t know, things? … I’m writing 12 hours a day right now. I’m working a full-time writing job (oops, did I forget to tell you that? SURPRISE) on top of freelancing, on top of blogging, and hey, to fill in the empty spaces, I’m also trying to finish writing a gosh darn book.

Don’t do what I do. Don’t be like me. Because a beginner cannot, and should not, do this. A beginner should not spend half their day writing. Sounds crazy, right? Don’t you have to write in order to get better at writing?

Of course you do. But not constantly, all the time.

Let me explain.

It took a very long time for me to figure out how to install a “writing mode” in my brain – kind of like a switch I can turn on and off as needed. When I need to write – like now, for example – the switch flips on. I block everything else out. I see the very rough outline (or, let’s be honest, sometimes a blank page) in front of me, and before I know it, I’m writing.

But “writing mode” also works like a phone battery. If you spend the majority of the day in writing mode, by a certain point, you’re going to have to stop writing so it can recharge.

(Just imagine you have a very short phone charging cord and one outlet, very far away from whatever place you need to be in that’s not near the outlet.)

“Writing mode” wouldn’t matter if I drained the battery and then didn’t charge it. I work – a lot. It’s the hustle; it’s what I do. But at a certain point, I stop. I do other things. Read. Watch movies. Spend time with family, with friends. Anything and everything that does not involve writing.

I do this so that when it’s time to write again, I’m prepared. Charged and ready to go.

I’ve built up a lot of creative stamina, let’s call it. The more time I spend in writing mode, the more productive I am in that mode. I can get a lot done in a day. I don’t struggle with the things beginners struggle with because I’ve been doing this for … oh God … eight years, or whatever.

Please don’t sprint straight into your first month blogging, freelancing or whatever kind of writing you’re doing thinking you can write 12 hours a day and be fine. It’s a great idea in theory – think how far ahead you can get, compared to all the other new starters. But trust me – TRUST ME – you have to start small, and you have to go slow. You will get overwhelmed, you will get tired, you will burn out, and who knows … you might consider never trying to get back into writing again after that.

You might never get back into it at all.

Burnout is discouraging and it hurts. I don’t want you to come into this thinking that’s not going to happen to you if you push yourself too hard in the beginning. It will. It does. It’s why so many beginners never make it past that stage. They have it in their heads that if they go too far, they’ll be able to step back immediately and still come out ahead.

Hard work is necessary. Dedication is essential. Consistency is key. But you do not have to try to be a superwriter. We train years for this. We go to school, we get certifications, we do internships, we learn and grow slowly until we can handle this pressure. You might not be quite there yet.

But you’ll get there. Eventually.

What is the right balance? How do you work hard – but not too hard … just hard enough?

Look out for a new post on this topic later this week … wink, wink.

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.

When Something Has to Give … Or Does It?

I am a chronic over-committer.


I am a chronic over-committer.

I also like to work, and learn, and create.

So sometimes I don’t realize until it’s too late that I have 15 things going on all at once when, really, I should only have about five, or less.

I am constantly reminding myself that writing a lot is not going to make me happy in the long term. That I am only one person, and I do not have to do everything, and if I say no every once in awhile, the world is not going to implode.

But new opportunities keep coming up, or I create them for myself (STOP THAT), and I can’t help it. I just grab them. I’m afraid to let them slip away.

I’m so tired right now I can’t see straight. I learned a new phrase for this feeling last weekend: “ugly tired.” I am as ugly tired as I have ever been. You might think that’s a complaint, one that doesn’t deserve to be voiced. I am young, I have a job (er, multiple), I am healthy, I do not have to pay rent. I am lucky. I do not have anyone else to take care of but me. What do I have to complain about?

Nothing, really. I’ve felt much worse than this before, emotionally, physically. At the moment I’m just coming off of midterms, which always kills me for about a week after the fact, and I’m behind on everything, which stresses me out. You have to understand, I guess, that to me, work is all I have. I don’t have a family of my own and I’m not in school full time. So what I have to focus on is my career, and when that is seemingly not going well, everything else falls apart.

I love writing as a job and when I’m doing it on my own, that makes me happy, too. But some days I want nothing to do with it. Why? Because I do it every single day. I cannot remember the last time I went a day without writing anything. I know I need to take a break, and probably back off on many projects at least until school is finished in October. But I don’t WANT to stop. I just want to stop feeling so stressed and tired all the time.

We all have days like this, and the best thing we can do, perhaps the only thing we can do, is remind ourselves that this is all going to be worth it.

It is all going to be worth it. Someday. And that day may not even be too far away.

The past six months have been some of the most productive, most stressful, most difficult and most rewarding months of my post-graduate life. Writing as a job is not easy, especially when you’re as awful at time management as I am. I still haven’t learned how to balance work and play. I know that if I want to continue working and feel better as I do, I need to get better at balancing.

They say that when you have too much to juggle, something has to give.

Maybe not. Maybe I’m just wasting a lot of time on Facebook and playing too many video games.


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

Image courtesy of hubspot.