Let’s Write, Learn and Grow Together

blog1018

About seven months ago, I published this post. Which, at first glance, doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, right? It’s not much different than the daily posts you’ve seen appear here every day since June (that’s a lot of posts). It’s not like you haven’t seen plenty of posts like this before.

There’s something special about it, though. Can you guess what it is?

It was, officially, the first post I ever published on Novelty Revisions.

That was a big deal, seven months ago. Because even though I had been blogging aimlessly for six years and had about 20 or so subscribers, I hadn’t been posting regularly. My posts weren’t really about anything, and the posts about writing didn’t really have a clear audience. I wanted to keep blogging, but I needed structure. I needed something new, without completely getting rid of the old stuff.

It took me weeks of long train rides and late nights in February trying to figure out what I wanted my blog to be. Seven months ago, though, I figured it out. And at some point, you showed up. Since March, subscribers have quadrupled. Site hits are consistently, well, not zero.

It’s not about numbers, though. I don’t want you to think that’s all I care about. The reason I spend so much time on my work for Novelty is that, in doing so, I get to help other writers. I get to share my experiences and put an honest, yet motivational spin on writing advice. It’s a tough gig. The majority of writers don’t get paid to do what they do. I don’t make money doing this. Numbers aren’t important to me, unless I’m trying to measure growth, and how many people I am able to help with each daily post.

That’s how we improve. As writers and as humans. We look at where we used to be, so we can motivate ourselves to continue to improve.

Our number of readers is slowly, but steadily growing. I really do appreciate the kind comments you all take the time to leave in that handy dandy little box down there. I’m here to help you, but really, we help each other. I don’t always know the kind of content you want to read, but I’m learning. I’m learning that change is actually one of the many keys to successful growth, in anything.

We are growing, which is great. But if I just kept doing what I’ve been doing the last seven months, that growth will eventually level off. I don’t want things to stay the same. And I’m sure you don’t, either.

That’s right, Noveltiers. Change is coming. And it’s coming soon.

Our flow of content and the content itself will stay the same. I’m not going anywhere. It’s still my mission to help you put your ideas into words, whether I’m talking about a literary concept or time management or just motivating you to keep going and stay strong when you want to burn all your manuscripts (don’t do that). But I think this blog, website, whatever you prefer to call it, can do more than that. I want to do more than that, for you.

You’ve given me a lot, over the past seven months. I owe you.

So starting next month, for the first time in the history of this blog and all its transformations over the past six and a half years, I will be sending a weekly newsletter straight to your inboxes. This newsletter (one of many “novelty” add-ons coming your way) will contain weekly top favorites, for those who don’t get the chance to visit daily (I don’t expect you to, that’s a lot of reading). And plenty of more exciting updates, both about my personal writing updates and more stuff you can apply to your own crazy awesome writing life.

There’s only one thing you need to do to get these updates. You guessed it this time. If you sign up for my weekly newsletter by tomorrow, you’ll receive the first-ever weekly issue, in which you’ll get even more news about what I’m planning. Including the exclusive option for you to guest post and a preview of an upcoming project I will refer to only as “Brain Rush.”

If you want to take any guesses as to what that might be, go ahead. Guess. You might even get it right. And I might even have a special prize for you.

That’s all you get. It’s free. It’s written by me. But it’s not for me or even really about me. It’s still all about you. That’s what I’m here for. If I only did this for me, quite honestly, I would have stopped a long time ago. I have a lot of ideas. All I want is to be able to share them with you, in hopes you’ll be able to get something out of them, too.

Check back in tomorrow for some tips on how to stay healthy during NaNoWriMo, and if you hit that signup button, you’ll be hearing even more from me then, too.

Until then, though – write on!

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.

[DISCUSSION] What Kind of Content Inspires You to Write?

NRdiscussiontemp.9.20.15

I love reading fiction. I love diving into stories other people have crafted from nothing, except a single idea. When you spend so much time writing your own stories, it’s nice to be able to sit down on the other side and be the one to read something new.

Fiction doesn’t affect me the same way other kinds of reading material does, though. Yes, fiction is interesting and entertaining and often leaves me feeling fulfilled and satisfied with my life. But when I’m looking for inspiration, whether I need it to keep myself moving forward or I need it to influence me to sit down and write something, I don’t pick up a novel.

Actually, I love reading memoirs. Not that I’ve read too many; there are a lot I want to add to my to-read list. A lot of people think memoirs are really boring, because obviously, while they’re still stories, they’re not fictional, so they’re not always super dramatic.

Yet that’s why I love them so much. These are stories about people who have somehow made their mark in the world doing what they’re good at. And some of these people didn’t have their success handed to them: they had to work for it, to earn it. They struggled to get where they are, just like we struggle. They overcame obstacles just like we hope to. They’re real people who accomplished real things because they believed they could, and fought for it.

That’s what inspires me: real stories of started-at-the-bottom success. Don’t get me wrong: I still love reading fiction. I’m on the second book in Julianna Baggott’s Pure trilogy right now, but still pick up Barbara Walters’’ memoir and read a chapter every few weeks when I’m in a slump and need to remind myself there’s still room to grow and do good things for the world.

We don’t have to stop reading fiction, or whichever genre we love picking up when we just need to pass the time. But it’s beneficial to know what we should turn to when we’re feeling lost or unmotivated, in need of something to ignite that brain rush we’ve been missing so much lately, don’t you think?

Sunday again? Wonderful. Let’s discuss (and I know I haven’t responded to your comments from last week, I haven’t forgotten, I promise).

What do you reach for when you need inspiration?
Why does that content in particular inspire you?
Do you turn around and write in the same genre, or are there a lot of differences between what you read and what you write?

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

[DISCUSSION] How Do You Handle “Bad” Writing Days?

NRdiscussiontemp.9.13.15

You’ve been staring at your screen for 20 minutes. You know exactly which ideas you want to take out of your head and put onto paper today. Yet every time you try to start writing, you just stop.

You want to write. But you just … can’t.

This happens to all of us, for plenty of reasons. You might be tired, or stressed. You might have had five amazingly productive writing days in a row, and have unintentionally burned yourself out.

Over time I’ve trained myself to keep writing even when I don’t feel like it. You’re going to have those days, when writing is the absolute last thing you want to spend your time doing. The more you get into professional writing, though, it becomes mandatory to write despite your mood or lack of motivation, so it’s not a bad idea to practice and make it a habit before that happens.

Does that mean, sometimes, the quality of what I’m writing isn’t the best it could be? Of course. Something else we learn, the more time we spend writing, is that nothing we write will ever be perfect, especially in the first draft. Sometimes you just need to get the words out, so you have something to go back and work with later. It’s the final product that needs to be at its highest possible quality, but when you’re still in the writing stage of the process, it’s okay to just plow through.

Whether it’s the time of day or just stubborn brain drought (writer’s block, but not) throwing you off, there’s no definite quick fix for writing, even when you don’t feel like it. As writers, unfortunately, it’s up to us to figure out the creatively stimulating methods that jumpstart our motivation and keep us going, even when we’d rather be doing something, anything else.

Maybe for you, that’s walking away and coming back later. Maybe you spend a few hours watching a movie. Maybe you just keep writing anyway. Everyone is different. Thankfully, there’s no right or wrong, just what works best for us.

Let’s discuss. Maybe someone else has a tactic you’ve never tried before. Maybe you’ve never had this problem (lucky you!) and are keeping some kind of secret (please share).

What do you do when the words just aren’t coming? Do you push through it, or take a break?
How do you motivate yourself to keep going, even when you know you’re not writing your absolute best work?

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

[DISCUSSION] When Is Your Best Time to Write?

NRdiscussiontemp.9.6.15

I used to be able to wake up early, before I turned 23. It’s like a switch flipped somewhere, and now I’ve become one of those people who would rather throw an alarm across the room and sleep until the last possible second than wake up before the sun does.

Okay, yes, I know it has nothing to do with age. I’m just caught in that really stupid place between graduating college and settling into a steady full-time work week. I’d love to say writing is always my priority, but let’s be real: it can’t be, if I want to be a good grad student and run a successful magazine and work my way up to running a half marathon. Among other adult-y things (laundry, cleaning out my Keurig, you know, the fun stuff).

So since my routine has been a little shaken up over the past four months, never really constant, it’s been pretty rough finding the best time to meet my daily word count. I write daily because I really want to finish my book soon (I’m very close, interpret that how you will) and I’m afraid I’ll lose momentum if I miss too many days in a row. So of course I don’t miss any, which is good for my book, awful for my sanity.

Anyway, as I was saying earlier, I used to be able to wake up early (I don’t just come up with these random leads for nothing, you know) and that was when I loved to write the most. Now when I say early, I actually mean early—like, before sunrise. Yes, that time of day does exist.

You can get a lot of writing done at four in the morning, especially when you don’t live alone, because even opening a drawer or shuffling around in a closet might wake someone else up, and if you don’t like being woken up, imagine being on the other end of it (oops). There isn’t much else to do, other than tuck yourself in a corner and write a lot.

So that was my best time to write. I used to wake up on weekday mornings, make coffee and write until I had to start getting ready for work. I’d write blog posts in the evenings, occasionally, and then I’d study and edit articles and it was a great routine. I was just starting to get used to it, except I had a temp job, and as you can probably guess, that ending threw off everything else, including my writing.

Now my routine, after shifting around a lot this summer depending on my class schedule and whatever was happening over at CL, might be changing again (fingers crossed). So I’ve been thinking a lot this week not about how I’m going to squeeze writing time in—I always do, writing is kind of like my version of breathing—but when I’m going to fit it in.

Do I still love to write in the mornings? I really do, actually. But I also need to run first thing in the morning or it won’t happen at all. And the later I sleep, the longer it takes me to wake up and get going, so very rarely do I write before I run. And by the time I get back from running, I usually have a solid idea for a blog post, which I usually try to get up before lunch (some days it’s a struggle, as you’ve probably noticed lately).

More and more I find myself writing in the afternoons and evenings, and I kind of like it. I completely ended my day with writing earlier this week and it was amazing … until I couldn’t fall asleep because I kept thinking about my book (of course) and how I wanted to keep writing (but sleeeeep).

So I’m going to keep shifting things around and seeing if I have a “best” time to write. When am I most focused? When do I put out my best content? If there’s even a time of day either of those things happen better than other times.

I’m curious as to whether any of you have found your best writing times. Sundays are becoming discussion days here at Novelty Revisions, because I do want us to become a little more community-focused and I want this to be a place not only to come for advice, but for you to share your thoughts and give others advice and talk about writing.

Do you have a specific time of day you’re most productive, writing-wise? How did you figure it out? What do you do when the usual time you spend writing gets filled up with something else?

I’d love to read your thoughts! Compose your words of wisdom! I look forward to discussing with you today.

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 and Grammar Nazi, Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink. Follow Meg on Twitter. 

Solution Saturday: I’m Afraid to Let Other People Read My Stuff

NRSS10

You consider yourself a writer. You’ve been writing for a long time, and even though everyone around you would say it’s impractical, you really do dream of becoming a successful author or journalist someday.

For starters, we’re certainly not here to crush your dreams: we fully support you and all your diction-saturated ambitions. We just have one question for you: why haven’t you ever shared your work with anyone before?

Yes, we know your secret. As much as you love writing and dream of doing it professionally, you’re afraid to let other people read what you write because … well, you don’t really know why, exactly. You just are.

Been there, done that. What you’re feeling is completely normal. And if you want to change your ways and overcome your fear, as always, we are here to help.

Solution 1: Recruit a designated reader

Just the thought of hundreds of people looking at your writing at once is enough to shy you away from stepping out of your literary comfort zone—so let’s not think of it that way. If you’ve never shared your work with anyone before, it’s probably a good idea to start with just one or two ‘designated readers’—people who you have asked, and who have stated they are willing, to read some of your writing.

If you’re worried about showing your work to strangers, you can rely on a close friend or family member who voices their interest in reading some (not all) of your writing. If you’re concerned a close friend or family member won’t give you honest feedback to avoid hurting your feelings, join a writing community and find one or several people who might be willing to give your work a once-over.

Solution 2: Create a Facebook group or page 

If you’re hesitant to ask a specific person to read your work, take a different route: designate a specific place on social media to put your work out there and let potential readers stumble upon it at their own will. You can do this a bit more subtly by creating a Facebook group or page where you post excerpts or links to your blog or portfolio for the public, or a select group of people, to see.

It’s up to you whether you make these ‘content hubs’ private and invite specific people or leave them public for anyone to find. We recommend creating a closed group and a public page, so that anyone interested in keeping up with your work can ask to join the group or follow (‘like’) your page. It’s also up to you whether, and/or how often, you promote these opportunities on your personal social media pages. Basically, whatever you’re comfortable with is what will work best for you.

Solution 3: Don’t force yourself to share everything

If your ultimate goal is to be more comfortable sharing your writing with other people, as with any ambition, start small. You don’t have to share everything you’ve ever written all at once. Go through your most recent pieces and pick out one or two you feel convey your best work and start there. If your designated reader or others ask to see more, when you’re ready, you can expand the amount of pieces you’re willing to share.

But if you don’t really want to share your work at all—and that’s okay with you—there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sometimes writing can be a very private thing, or you write about personal experiences you don’t want other people to know about. That is 100 percent your choice, and no one can, or should, force you to let them read what you’ve written if you don’t feel comfortable.

Letting someone else read your story, poem, book chapter or article for the first time can be scary. But part of the process is learning how to accept positive and negative feedback and taking others’ suggestions into account when refining your skills and revising your work without taking them personally.

You are a writer, and you can and will do amazing things with your talent. But you cannot do it alone—and you shouldn’t have to.

Good luck. Never forget: your ideas do matter, and they deserve to be put into words.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.