How a Structured Writing Environment Makes You More Creative

How important is adaptability to a writer’s creativity?

I thought I’d stick with freelance writing full-time. That was my plan, when I set my 2017 writing and career goals. Then I accidentally got hired to write full-time somehow (impostor syndrome, is that you?) and realized I had a lot more to learn about writing than I thought.

In my mind, creativity required as much freedom as possible. I needed to be able to work when or where I wanted, with weekly deadlines and not much direction.

I look at creativity a little differently now.

In the beginning of this new branch of my budding career, part of me secretly wondered if I was making the wrong choice. Because working for a media company meant stricter, more frequent deadlines; more restrictions on what I was allowed to write about; a tighter pitching process, more self-editing, and having to follow a very specific set of guidelines for every single thing I wrote.

A small part of me thought, “Will this take away my freedom? Will it make me less creative?”

What they don’t tell you about working full-time as a writer online is that things change constantly. Every week we have to adapt to new strategies, test new ways of structuring our articles and headlines, do what we do best with a slightly altered — and usually more effective — set of guidelines. At first, this threw me off. I got worried. Because, after all, a strict number of pages per article, a weekly and monthly production quota, coming up with the perfect pitches — that was going to stifle my creativity. Right?

Quite the opposite, actually. Thankfully.

Because sitting in front of a computer, with no direction as to where you need to go with a piece, it’s very easy to fall back into your go-to way of doing things. You launch into autopilot, you write without really thinking about it. While that works sometimes, it won’t always. Readers get bored. They want to see something new, something worth clicking through.

Sitting at your computer with a checklist, you know where you need to start and where you need to end up. But everything that happens in-between, you have to actively think about. How can you make your subheadings less mundane? How can you present a fact or statistic in a way that’s hard to forget? How can you take something that starts out as a boring, skeletal frame of a piece of writing, and turn it into something worth reading? That takes creativity. It forces you to do something different than what you’ve done before, every single time.

I don’t like linking to things I’ve written outside this blog. But I’ll make an exception here, for the sake of showing vs. telling (see what I did there?). If you’re interested in seeing an example of what I’m getting at, look at this article. It’s meant to be informative, and it is. But it tells a story at the same time. It took a lot of brain power to figure out how to make it work. It took all the creative energy I had to structure it in more than just a formulaic listicle — and it was a worthwhile (still challenging) experience.

You have to be creative to stand out. Which might seem obvious … but autopilot isn’t always detectable.

Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way. Maybe I just thrive on structure and checklists. This definitely isn’t the right environment for everyone. But if you’re really looking for a challenge, something that lets you write but keeps you on your toes and pushes you past your perceived limits, this kind of structured environment will force you to think outside the box while sitting cross-legged inside one. Adhering to a formula, to make your product unique, you have to be able to create something that stands out. Even, from the outside looking in, that seems impossible.

How do you find writing environments like this? Write a lot. Create an online portfolio, freelance, make good connections. Someone I worked with during a magazine internship sent me a link to a job posting I never would have applied for otherwise — which is how I landed my first full-time writing job. The more experience you have, the more marketable you are — as long as you’re willing to build a versatile skill set and adapt to change, that is.

If you’re looking for freelance writing jobs, read this first.

Always remember that creativity isn’t always about doing what you want, the way you want. It’s about doing something different within a set of boundaries. If you can accept that, if you can learn to thrive with that mindset, it’s not going to take you long to start climbing the success ladder. I mean, it’s still a pretty big ladder, don’t get me wrong. You’re just going to be able to figure out how to climb it faster than a lot of other writers in your niche.

What do you think? Is adaptability essential for creativity? How do you blend structure with creative freedom? Do you, have you ever, or do you ever plan on working in an environment with more structure? How does it compare to writing your own blog, or novel, or working with freelance clients, all on your own time? Do you have a preference? Sorry. That was a lot of questions. (:

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 nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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The Real Reason People Doubt They Can Make Writing a Career

I heard “You’re going to be such a great writer!” so much that I almost decided not to be one.

Many people sit back in their desk chairs at some point and think, “Wow. I might not actually want to be a writer after all.” Even if they’ve studied it, pursued it — succeeded in it. There’s just a sense of doubt that comes along at some point and makes us question everything.

And I think it’s one of the best things that can happen to you.

I write professionally now, but there was a point in my life when I would have gladly done ANYTHING ELSE if it meant I never had to write something out of necessity ever again.

It’s that segment of my life that changed my attitude toward writing for the better.

Starting in middle school, people began complimenting my writing skills. Very cool for a 12-year-old desperately trying to impress both her peers and teachers. But as I entered high school, and started meeting with guidance counselors and registering for writing classes, those nice compliments turned into nonstop … assumptions.

“You’re going to be a great writer! A career in writing is perfect for you! The world needs good writers like you.”

On. And on. And on.

Of course, always a people-pleaser, I went along with it. Until I got to college, where dozens of opportunities to learn a variety of subjects and join clubs that had nothing to do with my English major made me realize that writing wasn’t all I could, or even wanted, to do. I’d barely ever explored any other options. Growing up, people just talked to me about a career in writing, and I assumed that was all I could and would ever do.

So for awhile, the idea of writing all day every day for the rest of my life was far less than appealing. I took literature and psychology and nutrition classes, I spent time performing in music groups and taking voice lessons — I made it a point to try a little bit of everything else. Because at that point, I finally realized I had more than enough power over my life to decide what I wanted to do. And if I didn’t end up settling for a writing career, well, that was fine with me.

How I ended up as a writer anyway is kind of a long and rage-inducing story, so I won’t bother you with the details. But the important thing is, I eventually ended up choosing my career in writing. No one forced it upon me. No one expected me to settle. I actively made the choice, independently of anyone else’s suggestions or opinions. And that made me feel good. It made writing fun, and worthwhile, for me again. It still is.

Growing up, everyone was just trying to be encouraging. I get that — I’m grateful for that. It just took standing in front of a few different crossroads for me to realize that whether I chose a career in writing or something else, my happiness was more important than making someone else proud.

It’s healthy to doubt your desires. When you spend so much time writing, sometimes you do miss out on other things. It’s OK to try something new, to consider a career that doesn’t involve a ton of writing, even just so you can go home at night and have brain power left over to write to your heart’s content. Sometimes we doubt our ability to do something because no one has ever told us we don’t have to. We start to wonder, “What if I did this instead?”

If you go your whole life wondering that, but never trying it, you’re going to be miserable. You might try something new and realize you like writing after all. You might fall in love with something else, and decide to leave writing as an occasional side project. This doesn’t make you any less of a writer, or lazy, or a failure. If writing isn’t all you want to do, you don’t have to sit around feeling trapped and angry. Be a Human Venn Diagram. Do more than one thing. You are not one title, one profession, one skill set. Work hard, but have fun. Don’t smother the urge to try something different.

It’s your time, it’s your life. You can choose how you spend it.

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.

Help Novelty Revisions become a more valuable resource for aspiring writers.

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How I Went from Writing Unpublishable Fiction to Full-time Freelancing

It took a long time for me to realize I would probably never be a great novelist.


When I was 14, I finished writing a book for the first time.

It was not a good book. But it was then that I decided I wanted to write more books, good ones, with hopes of getting them published someday.

For the next five years, that was all I wanted to do. I took creative writing classes. I attempted and won NaNoWriMo four years in a row. I thrived in my English major. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to write my way to a successful career.

Then I changed my mind.

I can’t say exactly what made me decide I didn’t want to focus on fiction writing anymore. My sophomore year, everything kind of changed. My English major was “too easy” (I don’t know why I thought that was a bad thing) so I added a second major. I started writing for my school’s newspaper. A year later, I started interning for a magazine. Novel writing just became a side project that really only mattered in November and July.

If you watched my Project for Awesome video last year, you already know that all kind of changed again my senior year of college. From the time I graduated in May of 2014 to May of 2015, I blogged for a food allergy company, edited magazine articles, took classes, wrote novels and snagged a full-time temporary data entry job. I was fine with not having a job that focused on writing, because it meant I could go home and write if I wanted to – but I didn’t have to.

Flash forward to a year ago, September 2015. No more temporary job (hence “temporary”). All attempts at finding another full-time job in writing or social media or anything communications related were unsuccessful, because I was in graduate school part-time and people don’t understand how online education works. I was focusing on my less-than-part-time job with the same magazine I’d interned with for three years, growing my blog, and finding places online that would let me write for free.

I figured that was better than nothing. Once I finished my novel from the previous few WriMos, I didn’t have much else to do. I never thought anyone would ever agree to pay me to write anything. I planned on finding a full-time job by the beginning of 2016. And when that didn’t happen, I had a not-quite-quarter-life-crisis. Out of that came the idea to try freelance writing.

That was not something I wanted to do, but trying to pay for grad school and student loan interests made it so I didn’t really have a choice. By the end of January, I had my first client. Then two. Now I’m working with anywhere from five to eight at any given time. I write and/or publish about 30 articles every week, and just this past week went full-time as a freelance writer and editor.

It’s not an unheard of transition. Many people who start out writing fiction figure out how impossible it is to publish an original manuscript, so they turn to something that utilizes their skills and (potentially) helps them pay for necessities.

It’s not unheard of, but I never thought I’d make that kind of decision. It took realizing that I was a better nonfiction writer and editor than I was a novelist to finally accept that you don’t have to rely on just one kind of writing in your life. It’s OK to change directions.

I’m still always working on some fiction writing project on my own time, little by little. Three times a year, I participate in WriMos to keep myself in the fiction writing loop. And while it’s a goal of mine to eventually be able to write, revise and edit a book to the point where sending out queries makes sense, it’s not something I plan on doing anytime soon. There’s just not enough time, and that’s OK, for now.

I haven’t given up on fiction. Giving up is a waste of time and skill. I make it a point to constantly work on a book or novella, even if I don’t make much progress in any given week. I don’t think I’ll ever stop telling fictional stories, because it’s honestly just part of who I am. I feel incomplete without writing fiction. But it’s been knocked down a few spots on my priority list. It’s still something I love, but not something I want to do all day every day. If I ever publish a full-length novel – great. If not, I’d be OK. I wouldn’t feel like I missed out on much. To me, writing a book start to finish, even if it’s unpublishable, is still an accomplishment.

Balancing fiction writing and freelancing is hard. You might be better at it than I am. Online writing could be my job for the next few months until I finish grad school; it could be my career for the rest of my life. I don’t know. But for now, it serves its purposes. I’m content. It took a long time to get to a point where I was OK with not being a great novelist. I’m happy.

If you’re ever struggling, trying to figure out what kind of writing you can or want to do … just keep writing. There are always going to be ups and downs. You’re going to wish you could sit on the beach with your laptop and make fictional people duel to the death all day long, but the next day, you’ll be glad that’s not what you’re doing. Or vice versa. You’re going to wish writers had more respect. You’re going to want to walk away completely, sometimes.

But I can pretty much guarantee you’re always going to come back to writing, in some capacity. Writers are dependent on the freedom to create. The challenges you will face along the way are what get you through the day, whether you’re aware of it or not. If you can’t abandon writing, it’s because you need it. You don’t have to make a career out of it, but you can. It can be just a hobby you indulge in when you have free time. It doesn’t matter. If writing is part of you, you will find a way. Always.

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

Writing Is a Hobby; A Hobby CAN Become a Job

We ALL consider writing a hobby. Some of us just happen to get a paycheck for our hobbies.


Even as an adult, I have never once allowed myself to believe that it was impossible to find a job that I loved.

There will always be jobs we despise. It’s a rite of passage, almost. I worked in data entry for four months last year. It was boring. But I always found little things about that job that made me happy: free bagels every Friday, the occasional nice email response after updating a restaurant owner’s menu, my own desk. The best part about that job was that once I left, there was no more work to be done. I could go home and do whatever I wanted. And many evenings, I chose to spend my free time writing.

I have always believed that one day, writing could be my job.

I have always known there are many, many people out there who do not believe this. But I, wrongfully apparently, assumed that those who did not believe writing could be a real career were not writers. I never thought I would come across a writer who actively protested the idea that writing could ever be anything other than something people do in their free time. Until I did.

There is my stance on the matter, that if you find the right niche, you can write, make money and overall enjoy what you do for a living.

There is also a stance, I found out recently, that writing should never be for monetary gain. That it is a hobby and not a career. That as soon as you start to make money off of the things you write, it becomes all business, and loses the sparkle and shine it had when you were doing it for free. You feel pressured to write, so you do not want to do it anymore.

Six months ago I would have not been able to give a professional response to an argument like this. In some ways, it makes sense. But as someone who spent many years writing for no compensation at all, and is now slowly making the transition into making money doing something I am good at, I have to say that, from my perspective, this viewpoint makes no sense.

Not only is it unnecessarily discouraging to someone who wants to earn money writing, but it also assumes that writing as a job is miserable and pointless … which is far from the truth (opinion). Are there days I do not want to write about dating and productivity experts? Absolutely. But there are also days, for another client, I get to write about my ultimate passion – health – and I feel on top of the world.

What troubles me about the writers out there who take the latter stance is that I don’t think they have ever gotten past the hard part. I worry that they have given up, and now believe writing can never be a true profession – for them, and for those they share their belief with. Perhaps what they do not realize is that there are stages involved in transitioning from writing as a hobby to writing as a career.

At first, you struggle to find work. Any work. This is usually after you spend a whole bunch of time ‘writing for exposure.’

Then, once you find work, you go through a very anxious period of time in which you realize this whole writing as a job thing is not what you expected it would be.

Then you get into a rhythm. And it gets easier.

Eventually you have enough experience to land a job writing in a setting or about a subject you are truly passionate about. And all that struggling becomes worth it.

If you’re out there, and you love to write, I’m so glad you are here. But I want you to know that it does not matter whether you are writing just for fun or want to look into making money doing what you feel you are good at. If you enjoy writing, you have every right to continue to do it in any format you choose.

But don’t ever let yourself believe it can never be a career for you. Keep going. Even when it gets hard, just keep going. If that is what you want, and you are willing to work hard, you will be rewarded in time.

And if you’re out there, and you are a writer, and you are even thinking about telling a fellow writer they cannot pursue a dream they have, don’t you dare. I am disappointed and saddened by that kind of behavior in the writing community. You are entitled to your opinion. But in this case, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep your opinion to yourself.

I cannot tell you that you are wrong or that you cannot believe what you believe just because I disagree: that would be unfair. But it is NOT okay to tear another writer down. You are no better than anyone else just because you consider writing a hobby. We ALL consider writing a hobby. Some of us just happen to get a paycheck for our hobbies. That is our decision. Please, respect that, the way we respect your decision to write for free.

In a nutshell, do what makes you happy. Write because it is a part of you. Dare to dream and work as hard as you are able. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t be what you want to be.

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 Flickr.

This Is How You Will Become the Writer You Have Always Wanted to Be

Your attitude is just as important as the words you write. How you carry yourself and behave is just as significant as what you hope to accomplish as a writer.


Growing up, I was never told I could be anything I wanted to be.

I was taught that if I worked hard for what I wanted, and believed I could earn it, I would.

I was never told I couldn’t be a writer.

I learned, sometimes the hard way, that if that was what I wanted to be, it was going to be up to me to make it happen.

If you dream of earning royalties as a writer, whatever your reason, you already know the odds. You know that, in a world where anyone can publish anything they want to on the internet, getting paid to write becomes more and more of a fairytale ending.

You know that aspiring writers need to develop more than just writing skills to be successful. And you know that you’re not going to get where you need to be without sending several hundred query letters, pitching to dozens of publications and spending your days and nights writing, sometimes more out of necessity than pleasure.

Believe it or not, that’s still not quite enough.

Your attitude matters just as much as, if not more than, every word you have ever typed.

In order to be the writer you have always wanted to be, you need to earn it.

Earn your experience

While I serve as a magazine editor, I simultaneously act as an internship director, which means I decide who is going to write for me each semester and who is not. Which means I receive all inquiries related to applications, sample articles and the like.

Here’s a little secret: I skim resumes. I review sample articles. After reading cover letters, I do not remember names or previous publications or how many previous writing jobs or internships someone has had. What I look for is enthusiasm. A willingness to learn and grow. An understanding that experience is the most valuable asset an aspiring writer can earn.

You will never be handed a writing job. You will never be offered the chance to write for someone else if you cannot prove that you are willing to work, put your writing first and never expect a single thing in return that you have not earned through determination and effort.

Earn a reputation for being selfless

My least favorite part about pitching ideas to content websites and magazines is the one or two sentences I spend talking about my mission and my accomplishments. Not because I am not genuinely proud of the work I have done, but because so many people do it wrong that it takes A LOT of effort to show you know how to do it right. (Effort you should be willing to expend.)

Being selfless as a writer means you walk into a proposal completely willing to give your skills and expertise to the publication in question. It is not about you, it is not about what you will get out of it. It is about the publication and its audience. Selflessness is putting the receiver of your work above what you will receive as a reward, financially or otherwise.

Demanding to be rewarded for writing will get you nowhere. You are better than that. Show you are passionate before anything else.

Earn your place in the writer’s circle

Never once in my life have I asked for or expected anything to be handed to me. In fact, I may have unintentionally refused a lot of well-meaning humans offering me their help, because I do not believe I am entitled to anything I have not earned.

Which is what makes wanting to write for a living the perfect vocational aspiration for me. And perhaps for you, too, if you learn that no one needs to read what you write. No one needs your words.

Instead you have to earn your audience. Others need to want to read your work. And to get there, again, you need to put them first. You need to realize that before anyone will show interest in the person behind the stories, they need to feel interested in too.

You cannot expect the rest of the world to promote your stories enough to gain a significant following without having to lift a finger. You have to involve yourself in every step of the process by showing your fellow writers and readers and publishers that you care more about stories than you do about yourself. They may still read your stories, but you will never earn their approval.

If you want to be a writer, think long and hard about your reasons why. Because earning it is hard, and the rewards are often small and abstract. But if you are in it for the right reasons and are willing to make sacrifices, you will make it, and it will be enough.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Julie Jordan Scott/

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.

5 Additional Skills You’ll Need to Launch a Successful Writing Career

A successful writer can write for a specific audience … and a whole lot of other stuff, too.


Think writers only need to know how to write to make a living? Think again.

Launching and maintaining a successful writing career these days means you have to know at least a little bit about a lot of different things. Whether you aspire to be a journalist, novelist or any other kind of writer out there, there are specific skills, besides writing, you’ll need to develop and consistently refine.

Here are five areas you should start studying, and how to learn enough of the basics to make it in this competitive industry.

1. Photography and graphic design

You will be much more marketable as a journalist if you can provide your own original photos to supplement your articles. You will be much more marketable as a blogger if you can show off some basic design skills both in your website’s layout and in the photos and graphics you use to add visual effects to your posts and other content.

Stock photos are easy to find and very commonly used across publishing platforms. The featured image for this post came from Flickr’s creative commons filter. But when you can, authenticity is always the better option. Original work will always trump borrowed content, even if you cite it appropriately.

How to learn it: This is one of those skills you will learn best by doing. You don’t have to be an expert. But the more you do it, the more confident you will be in your ability to improve and do it successfully. We all get better the more we practice.

2. Marketing and PR

To make it in this industry, you need to know the proper way to market your work and promote your accomplishments (professionally). You don’t have to go to school for it or even take a class, but knowing how to appeal to audiences without getting on their nerves or sounding self-absorbed (which many writers have yet to learn, and understandably so).

How to learn it: Trial and error. Experiment with what works and what doesn’t. Do not tweet five hundred times in one day. Do not send unsolicited emails only about yourself and your work and, please, be proud of what you do and unapologetic about your self-promotion, but don’t be a jerk.

3. Social media

You probably think you already know everything you need to know about social media, but strategic social media use – something you might use to promote your blog, published articles or a brand-new book you wrote all by yourself – is about much more than hitting social share buttons on a web page and coming up with a catchy tagline.

How to learn it: Watch what companies in your industry are doing. Observe how they interact with their followers and promote their content. If you’re in college or a recent graduate, see if you can snag a social media internship to get some hands-on experience. It’s a little marketing and PR, a little Hootsuite and a whole lot of paying attention to what other people are saying and doing on the internet.

4. Basic HTML and CSS

Most editing and content producing jobs want you to have at least a basic knowledge of this skill. The basics are not as scary or complicated as they might first appear. If you’re going to be spending a lot of your time in any portion of the publishing field, it’s a good idea to know how all this web nonsense works. At least somewhat.

How to learn it: Honestly, Googling basic HTML and CSS how-tos or enrolling in a basic online course in your free time is the best first step you can take here. Even looking up simple things one at a time, like how to add a hyperlinked picture onto your blog’s sidebar, will help you start to master some of the basics.

5. Multiple online publishing platforms

Learning how to use WordPress is an absolute must. It’s simple to learn and built so that anyone can master its basic functions. All the websites and magazines I currently work with, to my knowledge, use WordPress as their internal publishing platform (to actually publish articles). But not every publication will. Some might use an Adobe product like Dreamweaver.

How to learn it: It’s not enough to be an “expert” at navigating one platform. Practice using different ones for different writing projects, almost like your own personal experiment. If it’s not free, see if you can download a free trial.

Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking there will always be someone else assigned to do these things for you. Chances are, there won’t be. By taking charge of your basic knowledge of these skills, you are making yourself more marketable not only as a writer, but as a valuable asset to organizations who might not consider hiring you otherwise.

Image courtesy of Mike Goren/

To the Aspiring Writer Who Just Can’t Get Her Life Together

If you look closely, you’ll see that one thing all successful writers, creators, entrepreneurs have in common. They had a dream, and one way or another, they made it work.


As expected, my professional life hasn’t quite turned out the way I thought it would.

It never does, no matter which way the tables turn.

I’ve been officially out of college for a year (if you count the extra semester it took me to finish my second major). I scored a temporary full-time job right away, and I remember thinking, “Yes. It’s going to all work out. I’m not going to be one of those grads who can’t get a job. I’m going to make it.”

I made all kinds of plans. I established the perfect routine. I would hop on the train in the morning, spend 45 minutes writing and blogging, sometimes reading, work all day; spend another 45 minutes on the way home listening to TED talks and catching up on the news; write some more, work some more. I started graduate school, because I could afford to pay for it myself. What a feeling that was!

The thing about being hired on as part of a team to finish a project, though, is that when you’re part of a team that does really good work, really fast, the project ends. Fast. As does your temporary full-time job.

You could look at it as being punished for working hard. I don’t. I just look at it as bad luck. Not thinking far enough ahead. Getting a little too confident and comfortable, as a 22-year-old will do.

I just figured I would bounce right back. I had experience, I had writing samples. I would find an editing job, someone to write for. For the first month, I was patient. Confident. Ready.

Then one month became two, and two became four. And so on.

I’ll be completely honest with you. It’s not easy to stay hopeful or productive or happy when you’ve all of a sudden become one of those people you never thought you’d be. The graduate with a killer work ethic, a hunger to work hard and earn her place in the workforce, experience, everything you would think would grant you access to the real world, who just couldn’t get that second interview. Who just didn’t quite have what it took to be enough.

Access denied.

I can’t speak for anyone else in this situation, no matter how many of you are out there reading this. But I can tell you what I did to cope. I started writing. A lot. Knowing it was going to cost me a lot of time and earn me nothing. Knowing it was going to get me some writing samples and fill out my already cramped resume. Hoping it would matter. Eventually.

I’m still going at it. Writing, collecting experience, learning, giving myself the credibility I need to turn around and help you gain that experience and learn, too.

Why am I telling you all this? Why the back story?

Because you have dreams, just like I do. You might be good at a lot of things and capable doing anything and everything that will earn you a spot among the adults, in the land of the grown-ups. But there’s only one thing you really want to do. You want to write. You want someone to pay you for your words, because it’s hard and it takes time and you’ve practiced so many hours, so many years. Even though you know, realistically, it’s not going to be easy, or even possible, it’s what you want.

Here I am honest. I’ll do anything and everything I can to help you succeed. With each day that passes I find myself more and more knowledgeable of how this industry works. People are always going to give you “that look” when you tell them you’re going to be a writer. Isn’t that what everyone wants to do? It seems like that, at times. It feels like that, when you think to yourself, “Yes, I nailed that interview, I nailed those writing samples,” and it still doesn’t work out.

We all have to struggle. We all have to have those moments when we start to doubt things are ever going to get better. Even when we don’t realize it, we’re constantly drawing strength from those moments. I could have given up a long time ago. I could have said, “Forget it,” and stopped writing and blogging until I “had my life together.”

I still don’t have my life together. That hasn’t stopped me from writing anyway. Even if nothing ever works out, even if I’m always just going to be a writer on the side, ignored, unappreciated, at least I’m still, sort of, doing exactly what I want to do when I take a break from “real” adulting.

If you look closely, you’ll see that one thing all successful writers, creators, entrepreneurs have in common. They had a dream, and one way or another, they made it work. You will make it work. We will all make it work.

It’s a strange place to be. Not knowing where I fit, not seeing what’s on the other side of the hill. Wondering if this year will be just like the last, or if it will be better.

But inspiration comes from all kinds of different places in life. Even when nothing seems to be going right, there is one thing we can still control. The story in our heads. The characters we create. The words we made up, because we’re just wired that way. That’s just how we are.

Someday that will pay off. Someday, this will all be worth it.

Keep writing. Promise me. And I’ll promise you.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of matryosha/

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 Take Your Writing More Seriously (and Still Enjoy Writing)


Of the many writing obstacles we’ve discussed this year, one of the harder roadblocks to bypass is learning how to balance work and play.

When you spend your life as a writer only writing for fun (nothing wrong with that!), and then all of a sudden you’re asked to write on deadline or write consistently about one topic in particular over an extended period of time, it can be a rough adjustment.

As much as we would all love to launch an actual career in writing, there’s always that small fear deep down that as soon as we start writing for work, we won’t enjoy it anymore.

If you want to ‘be a writer,’ it does require getting a little more serious about your day-to-day writing activities. But that doesn’t have to suck the fun out of the hobby. Here’s how to find that balance every aspiring writer hopes for.

Have a mission

As we’ve mentioned plenty of times before, wanting to be a writer isn’t quite enough. You need a ‘backup’ reason to give both yourself and future employers/editors/agents/publishers when you’re trying to move your career forward. Know exactly what you want to do and why you want to do it. The what makes your goals clear and achievable. The why serves as a constant self-reminder that no one is forcing you to do this: deep down, you want to. Your passion is your ultimate fuel.

Have a plan

One you know what you’re trying to accomplish, you need to figure out how you’re going to get there in smaller steps. If no one is giving you a deadline, create your own. Figure out what you want to accomplish and when you want to get it done. Know exactly what you’re getting into before you dive in, so that no matter how much work you end up doing, you can still allow yourself moments to sit back and enjoy it.

Be consistent

If you’ve assigned yourself a goal to write every day, write every day. The second you free yourself of that responsibility, you’re in big trouble. Likewise, if you tell someone you’re going to finish something by a certain date – do it. Find an accountability partner if you have to. Treat your goals seriously. And in the same way, be consistent with the amount of time you spend resting and working on just-for-fun projects. The key to balance is to form habits and keep both writing and relaxing at the forefront of your task list.

Forming our own paths in the professional writing world (whether you’re trying to publish fiction or nonfiction) requires a lot of skills and steps. There’s a time for seriousness and a time to let your creative thinking take the reigns. If you plan carefully and allow equal amounts of time for productivity and unplugging, you will be able to accomplish so much more – and enjoy doing it, too.

Check out more tips for how to take a productive break from writing.

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.

If Your Career Doesn’t Involve Writing, Are You Still a Writer?


To avoid becoming a real-life starving artist cliche, a lot of aspiring writers often get to a point where they have to make headway in a full-time career – any career – to make ends meet as they continue building up writing experience. This is nothing new and nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Unfortunately, every aspiring writer, understandably, hopes and prays to find a job that will help them develop their writing and editing skills. Every single one. So your chances of even getting a job in publishing or journalism or anything related are slim.

It has nothing to do with you as a person or how good of a writer you are. Actually, you’re probably a great writer. But so are a lot of other people looking for the same kinds of jobs you are.

There are a lot of jobs out there that you’re probably already qualified for. Being able to communicate, meet deadlines and stay organized are essential skills most aspiring writers have mastered even before they begin their job search as college graduates. This might mean you’ll end up working for a company who’s happy to have you – and you’re happy to help out – even if that particular industry isn’t ideally where you want to be.

But if you’re working somewhere you’re not spending every moment of every work day writing, are you still a writer?

What if you get caught up in a job you’ve fallen in love with, and all of a sudden realize you’re not spending as much time writing when you’re not at work?

This does happen, and it’s the fear that throws a lot of aspiring writers off course even before it becomes a problem. We’re stubborn. We don’t want to settle into anything other than our dream career. Yet we’re broke. We need to make a living still doing something we enjoy.

Just because you’re working in a different industry than you want to be doesn’t mean you’ll hate your job or never get to do what you love ever again. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.

It takes time to adjust to a new routine. If you’re frustrated because you’ve just started a new job or have just taken on more responsibility at your same job and haven’t had time to write lately like normal – relax. Figuring out how to fit writing into everyday life when you have a full schedule doesn’t happen in a day. Just because you’ve stopped writing for the time being, while you’re adjusting to something new, doesn’t mean you’ll never go back to it.

You’re still using your skills, whatever you’re doing. The skills you use at the office are the same ones you use to write, whether you realize it or not. You don’t have to spend every moment of every day writing to call yourself a writer. Also remember that the best writers have life experience. Some of your best story ideas will come to you while working at your current job.

You are a writer because you are a creative, passionate, story-loving person. We all need breaks and we all have to make sacrifices. Keep your dream alive, and enjoy what you’re doing. If you love to write, you will eventually find time to do it no matter how busy you are.

To learn more about how to stand out in the publishing world, no matter what stage of building a writing career you’re in, check out our LET’S GET PUBLISHED! series, which we’ll start back up again in January.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.