Here’s Some Writing Inspiration for You This Weekend

There’s a big difference between wanting to be a writer and being an aspiring writer.


Do you know what this is?

As you might remember from a few weeks ago, I’ve caught the minimalist bug and have started going through everything I own, trying to get rid of as many things I don’t use as I possibly can. I’ve started with my closet, which you can imagine, is basically where everything I forgot I had lives. That includes very old notebooks (yes, we still used those back in 2009).

What I found on the first page of one of those notebooks was something I never expected to find: the original “plotting” points for a book called Lost and Found, which I would later write, edit and (almost) self-publish.


Sure, I don’t own that stock photo of a Starbucks cup, and it’s not the best book ever written, and I don’t plan on ever actually showing it to the world (this was only the third novel I ever wrote, I was still in high school, I’ve gotten a lot better at writing since then, at least I hope so). But I never expected to find this “outline.” I didn’t even remember I’d written it out.

I’ve been having an extremely productive week, writing-wise. I’m working on two novellas, one for The Novella Concept and one I’m ghostwriting for a client; the novel I started back in November is still making slow but steady progress, and article writing is going full-speed forward as always. I didn’t really need an inspiration boost this week. But maybe you do.

There’s a big difference between wanting to be a writer and being an aspiring writer, at least in my opinion. To me, wanting to be a writer means you someday plan to write for a living. You have a running list of your favorite authors and stories, and you have a few ideas for stories of your own. But beyond that, you don’t have much to show for your want.

Being an aspiring writer, I think, is different, in the sense that aspiring means you’re actually working toward your goal. You’re writing. Maybe you keep trying, and never quite get to the finish line, or you write something but it never gets published. That doesn’t matter. As long as you’re making an effort, as long as you’re saying, “I’m writing this story, it might not be the best but I’m trying,” that’s what sets you apart.

You can get from start to finish. It isn’t impossible. Don’t worry about whether or not it’s the best novel ever written. Worry about whether or not you’re working toward your ambition, and get back to writing.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

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 Meg Dowell.

I’m Not Working On My Novel As Much As I Want to Be, and That’s Not OK

This past November, I ended National Novel Writing Month with 53,029 words of a novel in front of me.


This past November, I ended National Novel Writing Month with 53,029 words of a novel in front of me. As of today, I have reached a total word count of a little over 59,000 words.

So basically, I’ve hardly written anything. Which is embarrassing. And tragic.

It would be even more embarrassing to admit this, though, if I didn’t have a reasonable excuse for writing an average of 100 or so words per day all winter. It’s not like I’m spending all my other time playing Minecraft (though … there’s some of that, too). This past week, I have averaged about 3,000 to 4,000 words every day, for writing I’m actually getting paid to do.

Which is great. But it’s not my novel. And as grateful as I am to have the opportunity to turn my passion into a little income to help me finish school, I feel increasingly guilty with each week that passes when I realize I’m not spending as much time on the story I committed to in November as I wish I could.

With my freelance work and The Novella Concept and work and school, it’s just hard. Really hard. I make it a point to work on it at least a little every day, but that’s still not enough. I know I should be putting more effort into it, but there are only so many hours in a day. What’s hardest for me is remembering that this thing has no guarantee of ever getting published, meaning all the effort I wish I could dedicate to it may not reap the reward I always secretly hope it will.

As much as that’s no excuse to quit, and it has never stopped me before, it gets harder and harder every day to write for free. I love my story and my characters. I really do. I plan on finishing this novel, editing it and seeing where I can take it from there. I just don’t know how long it’s going to take to get to that point. And that scares me.

I have a goal to finish it by the end of the year. I finish my graduate work in October, which means I could spend the bulk of November and December finishing it up. But I’ll still have two more novellas and 50,000 words of a different novel to write during those months. Just because one commitment ends doesn’t mean it’s going to get any easier to find the time to finish it, and make it good.

I’m sharing these worries and frustrations with you today because I am always telling you the same thing: you have time to write, you need to stop making excuses, just sit down and do it. I want you to know that I’m working on following my own advice here.

I struggle with the exact same things related to writing as you do. I need to change some things in my life (less Minecraft, more sleep) so that I have more energy to get more of my novel written. I really need to sit down and figure out what I need to do to make this happen. And I’m not going to give up. I’m going to finish writing this book. It means that much to me.

Does that mean it’s going to be easy? What do you think? Of COURSE not. I’m exhausted. I am in the middle of writing a 15 page paper about mental health and it is wearing me out. I’m halfway done with March’s novella. I’m trying to hold back another idea for a new project until I can be certain I’m not going to completely lose my mind (or my hands).

This stuff is hard. I don’t complain about it though, because it is very easy to choose to quit. We could all just abandon this whole writing thing right now, get real jobs and wouldn’t have to deal with the unique kind of stress art and creativity puts on us. But we don’t quit. We can’t. We finish what we start. We are strong. We WILL write that thing and FINISH IT and it will be AWESOME.

Right? Right. Now get back to writing.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of

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.

How to Finish Writing That Story When Your Brain’s Already Checked Out

It’s tempting, no matter how many years you’ve been doing this whole writing thing. But if you’ve come this far, if you’re so close, you can’t just leave it unfinished.


Every now and again you’ll get the urge to abandon a project. Not just an idea you haven’t started working on or something that isn’t feasible the way you thought it would be, but something you started, almost finished, are completely capable of finishing … and you just don’t want to anymore.

There are a lot of writing ‘slumps’ that happen when you’re writing a story. There seems to be one final hurdle, when you’re getting close to almost finishing but aren’t quite there yet, that trips up almost everyone.

The worst instance is when you want to abandon what you are currently working on because of a new idea. You’re bored with this one. Tired. You’re ready to move on to something new … and just can’t seem to find a reason to bother finishing what you started first.

You’ll regret that later. Something bright and shiny may have come along, but it’s not going to stay bright and shiny forever. How long before you abandon that for something else, too?

Finish what you start before you move on. Here’s how.

Implement a self-reward system

There’s really no reason why you can’t finish what you started. Excuses are very easy to make, but you can knock them down by setting milestones for yourself. Small ones. And when you reach a milestone, such as another chapter written or another 1,000 words out of the way, celebrate reaching that milestone.

You need something to convince yourself continuing to work on this project is worth it, even if the reward is completely unrelated. Promise yourself a trip to the movies this weekend. Let yourself buy a new book. Let yourself watch Netflix for an entire day this Saturday if you reach your goal. Whatever is going to persuade you to keep at it.

Set aside time to get it done

When there’s so much out there to look at and do, and there are too many ideas you actually want to make happen, patience is one thing that will always frustrate you. All of a sudden, taking the time to sit down and work on something you really don’t want to work on anymore is so low on your list of priorities it might as well not exist at all.

The only way to fix this, of course, is to make it a priority. Literally block out time in your schedule for working on that story, whether you want to or not. If you don’t do that, if you don’t force yourself to sit down and do it, you will never finish it. Even if you only work on it for 15 minutes every day, that still counts. Just keep going.

Remember your original reason for starting

You started writing this story for a reason: that’s how writing works. Something, somewhere along the way, inspired you. Maybe you started writing about mental illness because of something a friend struggles with, or you wanted to write a story about relationships because of something really good or not so good that happened in your life.

Whatever your reason, go back to it, if you can. Did you journal about it before starting to write? If so, can you go back to those entires and read through them? Can you talk to that person again, the one whose story inspired yours? Do what you have to do to remind yourself why you started this story in the first place. It just might reignite your fire and give you the burst of energy you need to push through and finally finish what you started.

Don’t give up. You will feel so much better when you do finally finish this. Don’t let it slip away from you yet. Be patient. Keep writing.

Image courtesy of

My 2016 Writing Goals


I’ve been thinking a lot about goals over the past few days, and was really disappointed when I went back into this blog’s archives to look for the post I thought I’d made at the end of 2014 about what I wanted to accomplish in 2015. Apparently I never wrote one, nor did I write an end-of-year response to my 2013 goals. So that’s a bit of a downer.

BUT. While I’m in a goal-setting mood, I thought I would share a few of my writing goals for the upcoming year with you this morning.

Why? Because I’ve been watching the Project for Awesome live stream for almost 48 hours and my brain can’t handle any other kind of thinking at the moment. So.

It’s a good time of year to start thinking about goals. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions – I would rather set year-long goals that I can work toward accomplishing. (I just wrote New York Resolutions and almost didn’t catch it, SMS I need a nap you guys.) Measurable goals. Something more than, “I want to eat healthier.” How do you even define that?

That’s why NY Resolutions fail. We need SMART goals. Don’t let me continue this rant. Google it if you’re confused.

Anyway. Goals.

Finish writing my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel

I really wanted to finish before the end of the year (within the month), but honestly, that’s probably not going to happen. I’m tired. Not just I’ve-been-awake-way-too-many-of-the-last-48-hours tired. This has been a good, but long and exhausting year. I’ve taken 20 credit hours of graduate classes since March, on top of everything else, which might not seem like a lot unless you’ve experienced the grad school life. I already wrote basically one entire novel this year. I need to take my time, and take some time for myself too, so I can kick some serious 2016 butt.

Write and send out a query letter (er, many query letters for one piece of novel-length writing)

For which book? I have no idea. There are a few good ones to choose from. You all can help me decide if you want, just tell me so and I’ll maybe give you a few excerpts.

Finish grad school

Meg, that’s not a writing goal! YES IT IS! My last two courses will actually be writing courses, AND, finishing my degree will allow me to do more writing because of all the free time I’ll have thereafter. Haha. Free time. Hahahahaha.

Write some novellas for a secret project I’m not telling you about yet

Wait what? Nope. That news is coming very, very soon. Keep checking back for more information on how you can get involved (Yes! YOU!)

There are a few more, but I am so, so very tired.

Do you have any writing goals for the upcoming year? Or other goals that, when accomplished, will allow you to do more writing? Share! I’m going to get some more coffee. Looking forward to your comments (preferably not about how I can’t word properly today, but you’re welcome to leave those too if you so desire).

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

NaNoWriMo 2015: I Thought This Would Eventually Get Old


I first discovered National Novel Writing Month by accident.

If I remember correctly, it was either a Youtuber I watched way back when (ah 2008) or John Green that drew my attention to this crazy awesome thing I had never heard of before (or a Youtuber talking about John Green talking about NaNoWriMo, which is more likely the case).

According to my profile, I joined the website on October 28, 2008. Three days before NaNoWriMo started. Procrastination at its finest, I suppose.

I was a junior in high school at this point, so to me, this was a huge deal. I was excited. I emailed everyone I knew (we still did that back then too!). I had sort of written a book before … if you could even call them that. They were novellas and they were awful. Not that this first ‘real’ novel I wrote was any better.

But I had this crazy dream of being a writer. So I figured I’d give this whole writing 50,000 words in a month thing a try. I didn’t really care whether I won or lost. I really just wanted a good excuse to write instead of doing my homework (yep).

Yet somehow, I fell in love with writing a ton of words in a short amount of time. So much so that, on Thanksgiving that year, I won. I even managed to finish my whole book within that word limit. I finished my first ‘book’ and won my first WriMo at the same time.

Which is probably why the picture you see above happened. It was a big deal.

My biggest worry as the years have passed is that winning will become less and less of a ‘big deal.’ I use WriMos as a way to jumpstart my ideas and force myself to write (if you’re interested in more of my thoughts on this, check out this post). I don’t do it to win. But as soon as I get into a rhythm of writing a certain number of words per day, it just becomes inevitable.

It has taken me years to build up this much self-discipline when it comes to writing. That’s the most important thing I like to highlight when I do talk about this. I don’t talk about winning to make other people feel bad. Because here’s the thing: whether you write five words or 50,000 this month, you worked on a novel. YOU WROTE STUFF. Not everyone can say they’ve done that.

I’ve just always figured that at some point, winning would stop feeling so great. Because of my lack of a full-time job (sigh) and this discipline and really just a love for writing and stories and talking with voices in my head that aren’t really there (hehe), I’ve won every year I’ve tried. I won today. I just did it.

And you know what? It feels just as good today as it did all those years ago.

No one’s lifting me up in the air and embarrassing the living crap out of me (weeee), but I still did it.

There’s just something about writing because you love it, because you love your story and your characters and you just want to write all day every day forever, that makes all the work you’ve done wroth it. Big accomplishments, small accomplishments, they all matter. And you should never, ever be afraid to be proud of what you’ve done.

If you’re still writing – KEEP GOING! I believe you CAN do this.

If you’ve claimed your spot in the winner’s circle – CONGRATS!

And if you started writing a book this month, and have tried, but have fallen behind or you just can’t do it this year, KUDOS to you for doing your best. It’s not about winning. It’s about writing. It’s about transforming the ideas inside your head into beautiful, tangible, lovable words.

Winning feels great. It always has. It always will.

But writing? Writing is the reward. Getting to put time into your story, that’s the best part about it.

Thank you for sticking with me, as always. I’ll continue updating you weekly on the progress of this story. I hope to have a first draft finished by the end of the year.

Fingers crossed.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Meg Dowell.

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.

How to Add a Time Jump Into Your Story (the Right Way)


Stories are different from real life in a lot of ways. One major difference is that stories don’t move from one day to the next in chronological order. Stories cover significant events, which sometimes occur days, weeks, months, maybe even years apart. You might need to implement a time jump into your story, whether you want to or not.

We’re not talking time travel here, not exactly. Some stories need to skip ahead from one scene to another and aren’t meant to cover only a short span of time, such as one day or a few consecutive weeks.

If this is the case for your story, don’t worry. It can be done well (smoothly and without using too many transitional cliches). Here’s how to make it work.

Just jump right into it

The key to a good time jump – a time jump your readers notice, but barely – is to continue telling the story after a chapter or other kind of break like a time jump hasn’t happened. There are plenty of cliche (not quite wrong, but not recommended) ways writers do this. You’re probably familiar with a few of them.

“The days/weeks/months/years passed …”

“Winter melted subtly into spring …”

“I watched as the pages of the calendar turned …”

“As time went on …”

::skips months by writing November, December, January, etc. across consecutive pages:: (Sorry Steph, I just can’t accept this.)

If you can find a way to twist these cliches into something new and less cringe-worthy, or can fit them into your story in a way that actually makes sense (like, if your narrator is actually sort of obsessed with time and calendars, so it would make sense for her to note the passing of time that way), go for it.

But your best bet is to just jump into a new scene. Reveal that time has passed through subtle hints, either through short descriptions of your character’s surroundings or through dialogue.

Show how your characters have (or haven’t) changed

This element is essential for any time jump, no matter how much time you have actually skipped. It’s hard to show big changes in characters and their environments when you don’t use time as a tool, which is why, if done well, time jumps can be extremely effective. Remember, character development, or lack thereof, can and will make or break the quality of the story you’re trying to tell.

I’ll use a bit of my story as an example here. My narrator, at the beginning of the book, starts out as a coffee loathing, self-conscious, taking-life-one-day-at-a-time kind of girl. Time skips at a critical point for a few reasons, but within the first scene thereafter, we see her, now busy and a little stressed, grabbing coffee before leaving the house. Later on in the chapter we learn a few more unexpected details, like forgetting to finish an assignment (so unlike her!).

There’s also the most annoying character in the book, who hasn’t changed at all, which makes his character stand out even more. On purpose? Oh, of course.

Keep the story moving forward

At points you will need to have a character look back on a small detail that happened during the time your story skipped over, but don’t dwell too much on those moments. You’ve skipped over them for a reason. The key to a smooth transition is to keep the story moving forward as much as possible.

Continue moving through characters’ conversations, activities and key events, revealing small hints to past events as you go along. If you have to spend a few pages going over things your readers missed, you might want to reconsider skipping them completely. It slows things down, which isn’t something you want to do in the middle of your story.

This isn’t always an easy storytelling methodology to pull off, but as always, if you learn and practice how to use it effectively, it does get easier. Check out a few other common writing mistakes and how to fix them for more writing tips like this.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of

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.

NaNoWriMo 2015: A Look Back at Everything I’ve Google Searched This Week


Google is a writer-in-a-hurry’s best friend.

I have never done so much research for a novel, and I’ve been writing for a long time. This is the worst month of the year to be writing a book that requires having some knowledge of how things work (writer problems. Writer problems everywhere). I’ve been looking things up for writing purposes and for professional reasons, and thought you might be entertained by a few of them.

Why? Because November is too short not to take five minutes to laugh (and cringe at how weird I get toward the end of NaNo, it happens every year).

You have been warned.

WebMD knows everything about diseases I don’t have

I’m a fairly healthy person, and I know enough about how the body is supposed to function under normal conditions to seek medical attention from an actual human when something goes wrong (I could rant about this for pages, stop me now). But I don’t have an undetected congenital heart defect or depression and (okay it’s not a disease technically, but) I AM NOT PREGNANT (NOT NOT NOT NOPE NOPE NOPE). So please don’t judge my search history OKAY? I’m trying to take care of my characters here.

Flipping the funnel

Keep in mind here that I am a writer and editor by day, graduate student by night (where’s my cape? WHO TOOK MY CAPE?). I’m in a marketing class and had to do some research for a report due Monday. It’s actually pretty interesting to do this kind of research, figuring out how to listen and talk to your customers/community/followers. I don’t do the best job of that with all of you. I mean, I do the best I can, but I also never really took a communications course before starting my MS program so it’s information overload to the max over here.

I know nothing about how high school works

Okay, back to my novel. Let me be clear, I’m not THAT old, it hasn’t been THAT long since I was in high school. But apparently I have blocked out everything having to do with basic logistics, like how long a school day is, what an AP class is like, how high school theatre auditions work, you know, the basics. Side note, I accidentally had a 15-year-old driving a car by herself without a license, which isn’t so much about being out of high school too long as it is about just not paying attention to the real world at all ever.


This one requires a bit more of an explanation. I am a writer, editor and graduate student, but I also have one part-time job and am on a continuous, seemingly never-ending search for a full-time gig doing something that will allow me to do things like move out of my parents’ house, buy things I don’t need off Etsy, etcetera. So yesterday I applied for a content editor position that asked me to write something educational and science-y. TO THE RESEARCH. Grow those antlers, bulls. I need to stop.

Perhaps, instead of a slump, we have reached the point in NaNoWriMo where I lose my mind and must accept that things are never going to be the same again.

Dear God help me.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Solution Saturday: My Characters Have Taken Over (HELP)


Starting to plan out a new novel is sort of like sitting down to plan a vacation. By the time you’re on your way to the airport (by the time you start writing), you’re convinced you have everything figured out. You know exactly when that plane’s going to take off and where it’s going to land. You know how you’re getting to your hotel and the first thing you’re going to do when you check in.

Everything’s all planned out, all the way through the moment you arrive back home.

Then you end up taking a detour on the way to the airport. Your flight’s delayed. It’s raining. The plane has to make an unexpected landing. You end up stranded on an island with only a volleyball as a friend and it all goes downhill from there.

Wait, what?

Let’s be real. Your novel never turns out the way you thought it would. Your characters are to blame, and there are only a few things you can do to cope.

“Sketch” them out

We’re talking writing here, not drawing, but if you want to try that too, go for it. If you’re starting to figure out your characters know more than you do – which is much more likely than most of us are willing to believe – take some time to “get to know” them. Free write about their strengths, weaknesses, childhood events, etc. (Not recommended during WriMos.) You’ll be surprised at how much truth comes out during this exercise. The best part is, you’ll probably be able to use most of it, even if you don’t end up pointing everything out to the reader directly.

You’re in on the secrets now. Mostly. It’s a good place to be, but don’t get too comfortable.

Trust no one

Your characters will turn on you and they will turn on each other. This is great for your story but not so safe for your sanity. Do you ever wonder how T.V. writers come up with all those great twists? THEY DON’T. Somehow, they just happen. The only explanation is that our characters are in more control of the plot than they’d like us to believe.

So expect the unexpected. Know that if you’re in the middle of writing a scene and all of a sudden someone is dead, it’s not your fault. All you can do is move forward.

Just go with it

The truth is, we can make all the plans and do as much outlining as we want (or not). But somehow, when we create a cast of characters, we’re signing an unwritten agreement. These characters develop minds of their own, and pretty quickly, they somehow manage to figure out better ways to tell their stories than you could have ever come up with on your own.

Sometimes you just have to sit back, take a deep breath and let your characters take you where they want to go. Don’t fight it. In the end, it really is better for your story, even if it’s the exact opposite of what you thought it would be.

Don’t be afraid. You are in good hands. Hopefully.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

I FINISHED MY NOVEL! Here’s what I’ve learned.


In May 2012, I did something many of you probably have before.

I started writing a book.

And yesterday, October 23, 2015, I did something fewer, but still probably many of you have done also.

I finished writing a book.

The most meaningful thing I’ve gathered so far – after less than 12 hours of time to reflect – is that I actually managed to learn something through this long, at times unbearable experience. A few things, actually. Things I want to share with you today, because I don’t just want to sit here bragging about what I’ve accomplished. As always, I want to pass on what I’ve learned to you, my fellow aspiring writers.

So, now that I can finally say I’M DONE! … here’s what I know for sure.

Striving for perfection is a waste of time.

This was a tough thing to learn for me, the Type A, obsessive perfectionist. I wish everything could be the best it could possibly be the first time I write it. I wish all the characters always said the right things. I wish all the pieces always fit together and that I felt confident about every single sentence in that stupid book.

But that’s not how it works. Even just in the last month I’ve realized, again, that there isn’t time to keep going back and fix things. That’s not what the first draft is for. The first draft is for getting the story out. Figuring out the sequence of key events. Defining your themes and developing your characters.

It’s not going to be perfect the first time. Nothing ever is. If it were, writing a novel would be a completely different process. Honestly, it probably wouldn’t be as self-rewarding as it actually is.

The first draft is not the final product, but it’s still finished. 

When you hit the save button that last time, sit back and stare for awhile at this giant word-filled thing you’ve produced, there’s a certain feeling that settles over you. As happy as you are to have hit a huge novel-writing milestone, the moment still lacks closure. As if, even though you’ve finished, the journey is still far from over.

That’s because it is. Don’t get me wrong here: finishing the first draft of a full-length novel is an amazing accomplishment and you SHOULD be proud of yourself. But that first draft is still flawed. If and when you go back to it later, you will find plot holes, inconsistent character traits and, of course, so many embarrassing spelling and grammar errors you’ll want to scream.

You’re not done yet. But for now, you’ve at least done the hardest part of all. It’s all out on paper, somewhat organized, there for you to tear apart and put back together. Someday, when you’re ready. 

By the time you finish, you’ll have convinced yourself you never want to look at it again.

Never, never ever never. This morning I woke up and my first thought was, “Wow. I don’t think I ever even want to think about that stupid book again.” This is normal and it’s happened to me a few times before when I’ve finished writing projects like this in the past. It doesn’t help that I wrote almost 9,000 words yesterday to reach my finish line. I am burnt out, and that is okay.

It’s okay because I don’t have another deadline. I don’t have to look at it again right away, and I don’t plan to. By the time you reach the end of any project, really, you’re pretty much over it. Done. Bye Felicia. It has taken over your life, and you’re ready to take your life back.

Give yourself time. Distance yourself from it, not just to rest your mind, but to give yourself space. You don’t need to tend to it every hour on the hour anymore. (Here comes the parenting analogy again. Sorry.) It’s a toddler. A little older, maybe. It can play by itself for awhile without you. Let it. Get something else done while you can. Eventually, you’ll want to go back to it. And you will, and you’ll be refreshed and ready to start editing.

Thank you to all my followers who have put up with me over the past three and a half years. I promise, we’re returning to our normal posting schedule this upcoming week (fewer blog posts, more articles) and I won’t have too many more personal novel updates for you.

At least until November 1.

Want to read more about what you’ll experience writing your first draft? Here are a few more words of wisdom from yours truly.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and health. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist, 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.

Solution Saturday: Why Is Writing the Middle Always the Hardest Part?


Though it might seem a little backwards, writing the end of a story is a lot easier than writing the beginning. And writing the beginning is even easier than figuring out what comes between a story’s beginning and ending. Why? Because the writer always seems to know the end result, but often struggles to figure out how to get their characters there.

You probably have a decent beginning and a really kick-butt ending to the story you’re working on right now, but it might be that the middle of your story just isn’t coming together the same way. It happens to a lot of writers, and we know it’s not only frustrating, but discouraging.

Here are some solutions to help you conquer your middle and finish that story.

Solution 1: Outline your major plot points 

You might not want to spend any of your writing time on outlines, but the bigger a story gets, the easier it is to get lost. Sometimes it really does help to see it all laid out in one place. An outline doesn’t have to be anything fancy: just sketch the main points, like you would if you were writing a paper or drafting a proposal (but it’s more fun, right?).

Once you have your main ideas in front of you, you can start to break them down into smaller points and try to figure out not only where you’re stuck, but how you’re going to move past it and fill in the gaps. The answers you’ve been searching for may have been there all along; you just couldn’t see them before. 

Solution 2: Start at the end and work backwards 

You know how the story ends, usually, or you at least know where you’re going to leave your characters and storyline, whether you’ve come up with a killer cliffhanger (if applicable) or not. Ideally, you know how it all starts and how it all ends. So all you really need to do is work backwards.

If you’re stuck in the middle of your story, you don’t just have all of the beginning and all of the end written: you probably have pieces of the middle, too, they just haven’t come together yet. Start from “the beginning of your end” and see if you can backtrack to figure out, one by one, the events that lead up to the story’s climax. 

Solution 3: Keep the story moving

You might have hit a midpoint and started to feel stuck because your characters are wandering around a figurative forest. Let’s think Harry Potter for a second. How much of Deathly Hallows did they spend, literally, in a forest? But it wasn’t boring, though, was it? Because regardless of moving from clearing to clearing, they were always finding answers, asking more questions and hiding.

As best as you can, pack the middle of your story with action. Always keep your characters in motion. Are they working toward achieving a goal and have to overcome smaller obstacles along the way to get there? Are there big questions that branch off into smaller questions that can be answered as the story moves along? Everything leads up to the climax in a small but equally important way.

Middles are tough, and they might end up being the last part of a story you actually write. But it’s like taking something apart, laying all the pieces in front of you and trying to figure out how to put it all back together again. Once you have that ah-ha moment, you’re on your way to the finish line with no problems at all.

Well. Sort of.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.