It’s Not Fair

It really isn’t.


When people complain that life isn’t fair, I don’t think they’re always talking about equality. It’s not always a comparison between what I have and what you have. I think, when someone says, “this isn’t fair,” they’re talking about opportunities taken, missed, succeeded and failed. They’re talking about hard work never seeming to make a difference – at least not within the realm of instant gratification everyone seems to be hanging out in right now.

I’ve written this phrase in my journal at least five times this week. “It’s not fair.” Because it isn’t. You’ve had the same thought, I’m sure, dozens of times if not more this year. It’s not fair that you work so hard, or that you don’t have all the opportunities you wish you had. It’s not fair that you’ve gotten 20 rejections and none of them bothered to explain why you didn’t get picked.

It’s not fair that you chose to be a writer, hoping you could prove everyone wrong who silently thought about how you were going to fail and change your mind, only to realize despite the fact that you refuse to quit, it’s so much harder than you thought it would be. And you went in knowing it would be hard. Just … not this impossible.

It’s not fair that your words appear online or in print like invisible ink no one else bothers to take the time to decipher. It’s not fair that you LITERALLY CAN’T TRY ANY HARDER THAN YOU ALREADY ARE.

Or that you can’t try very hard anymore, because you’re just so dang tired of trying.

It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.

But since when has life ever been fair? You aren’t always going to get exactly what you want. And even when you do, you’re going to find that it will never satisfy you as much as you originally thought it would. Expecting life to be fair, expecting things to always turn out the way you planned, is like saying you want the most out of life without ever doing a single thing to build the life you want.

Life isn’t fair. Which is exactly why so many writers are struggling right now to pick themselves up from their disappointment and failure and get on with their lives.

Life isn’t fair. Which is exactly why you have to get up and keep moving anyway. No matter how much it hurts. No matter how discouraging it might feel to drag yourself through more writing, not knowing whether or not it’s ever going to matter.

You’re going to write a lot of things you’ll never submit. You’re going to submit a lot of things people will reject. It’s not fair. Which is exactly why you should keep trying.

It’s OK to complain, alone in your room with the blinds closed and nobody else around, that this just isn’t fair. As long as you keep pushing through it. One way or another, we are all eventually rewarded for what we earn. Hard work may not always get you exactly what you want, when and where you want it. But it will get you something. As long as you do it with good intentions, honestly, without taking any shortcuts or pushing other people down as you go. As long as you do your honest best, you will end up somewhere better than where you are now. And that’s something.

It may not always be fair. But when you can’t change the way things are, you have to change the way you react to them – emotionally as well as physically. DO something. Anything. Be as optimistic as you can be without being a jerk. Write. If it’s what you want, you’ll find a way. Keep going. And best of luck to all.

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.

Here’s What It Takes to Follow in the Footsteps of Writers You Admire

Are you willing to work for it?


Do you have a favorite writer? I have at least a dozen. For years, I searched for the right combination of habits, characteristics and strategies that would grant me access to the same level of accomplishment my literary heroes had long since achieved. I’ve learned a lot. And I’m more than willing to share my completely unscientific, but hopefully still useful, findings.

Here’s what it’s going to take to earn success, whether you’re an aspiring author, journalist, freelance writer, poet or any kind of creative human with a passion for words.

Spend as much time writing as possible

If you want to be a successful writer, you have to write – as much as you can, as often as you can, no matter what. As important as finances and socialization and keeping up with responsibilities may be, you have to find time to write. You can NOT improve if you do not practice. Don’t think anyone is ever going to read what you’re working on? Doesn’t matter. Don’t think it’s good enough? Still doesn’t matter. You can’t expect success if you don’t work for it. The difference between a dream and a goal is that a dream requires passive hope; a goal requires movement toward an endpoint, which requires persistent action.

Read and experience everything you can on things you want to write about

“Writing what you know” does not mean you only stick to writing about things you are already aware of. It means that if there is something you are interested in, and you really want to write about it, you must do all you can to learn about that thing before you have the knowledge and credibility to write on that subject. Read about it. Read everything. If it’s an activity, experience it. If I wanted to write about baseball, I’d read everything I could about baseball. I’d go to as many baseball games as I could. Maybe I’d even try playing it (I’ll take the risk of injuring myself, if it means learning how to do it right). Only once you’ve gathered background and experienced something firsthand can you return to your laptop and create the best possible story from it.

Have faith in your ideas

Too many writers never make it past the idea stage of creativity because they’re too worried about what other people will think. While it’s true that some ideas, further along in development, don’t always end up working out, you’ll never learn how to separate the good ideas from the bad if you never try creating something with them at all. There is no such thing as a stupid idea. There are ideas that don’t fit in a particular time or place. There are ideas that a specific person just isn’t fully compatible with. But if all you ever do is suffocate your own ideas before they get a chance to spread their wings, you’re going to face a lot of unnecessary disappointment in your life. You deserve better than that.

Be willing to grow and change direction

I started college convinced I was going to have a novel published by the time I graduated. Halfway through I felt drawn to a different kind of writing, and now only write fiction in my free time (with no high bars or expectations). I’m happier doing what I do now. It aligns with my personal and professional mission, whereas fiction does not. Whether it’s in one project or your entire career, you can’t hold yourself back from growth and change. A writer needs to grow if they ever want to succeed. And sometimes that means you’re going to change your mind. You have to be willing to embrace that. Writing is unpredictable, and so, your life is going to be, too. Accept it. Go with the flow. Follow your heart (within reason).

Do things the way they work for you

I once read an interview (probably one of many) in which John Green laid out his typical daily writing schedule. It was interesting, and as a fan of his work, I enjoyed a quick glance into his writing process. But my only thought once I finished reading was, “That’s great – but it would never work for me.” It’s interesting, and can even be motivating, to see how other writers get writing done on their own time based on their own personal circumstances. But you have to do what works for you – nothing less, and nothing more. There is no schedule, tool or method that is going to guarantee success for you. At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of whether or not you are writing. Because if you aren’t, you’re wasting time. Any writing is better than none.

Your success as a writer is dependent on many factors. But one of the most important is whether or not you are willing to put in the effort to increase your chances of success as much as you can within your own limitations. It’s not enough just to want it. You have to earn it. You HAVE to try your hardest. There is no excuse determination cannot dissolve.

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.

Essentials of an Effective Plot Twist

PLOT TWIST: the writer is actually the villain. :O


You love and hate them – those twists and turns in your favorite stories that make you want to throw your beloved book across the room. It’s one thing to read them … but to write them effectively is both a challenge and a worthwhile creative adventure.

Here are a few essential elements to consider when working a plot twist into your novel.

A character acting or reacting in an unexpected way

Up until this point in your story, you should have developed your main characters enough so that a reader has clear expectations as to how they should behave in specific situations. It’s now your job to completely disregard your reader’s expectations – purposefully, of course – and have a particular character behave in a way that is, at least from the reader’s point of view, completely out of character.

We expect Jo (Little Women) to agree to marry Laurie when he asks. They’re good friends, they’re adorable together and WE JUST WANT ALL OUR DREAMS TO COME TRUE. But she turns him down. We might get the feeling she would say no, but we still expect them to get engaged because they clearly care about each other. It’s unexpected … but it ends up working out just fine in the end.

Circling back to a previous point of foreshadowing or backstory

Foreshadowing is possibly one of the more challenging, but extremely rewarding, methods of subtly building up to a plot twist. It’s hard to be subtle, especially when you know what’s going to happen, even though your audience shouldn’t (yet). But giving small hints creates intrigue, bringing small pieces of the plot puzzle to form, and as soon as that plot twist hits, all those pieces fall (satisfyingly, maybe) into place.

A little background can also help, as a means of foreshadowing or on its own. Backstory can instill its significance in one short sentence or a series of flashbacks. Laurie and Amy, when Amy is still far too young to marry, discuss love and marriage (sort of, and briefly) on their way to Aunt March. We don’t necessarily take that to mean they’re going to get married to each other years later. BUT THEY DO. It’s a quick but significant scene. We might even forget about it once it’s over. But not for long.

Completely destroying the mental and emotional well-being of your audience

In a good way? In a bad way? Doesn’t matter. This is not the time to be considerate of others’ feelings. If you can’t get an exaggerated emotional reaction out of a reader as a result of your plot twist, you’re not doing it right. Don’t tell me you’ve never called out in frustration or felt dead inside after a book, movie or TV show completely ruined you for life. You’ve likely never forgotten that feeling. That is how your readers need to feel.

How do you achieve this? Have characters turn on each other. Reveal their true identities or personalities. Set someone up for success and then have them fail, or vise versa. This doesn’t mean you always have to end a story with an unhappy feel; a plot twist doesn’t have to come at the very end. The idea is to keep the audience invested in a story. If it isn’t turning out the way they want, they’re more likely to continue reading, holding onto the hope that maybe things will all turn out OK in the end. It won’t always – but that really depends on the story itself, whether or not there are multiple parts in a series, etc.

Not every reader enjoys this kind of storytelling, but as a writer, you might find it’s too fun not to at least try. I don’t know about you, but I’m delightfully impressed with Disney’s new era of animated films … which, thus far as I’ve seen, have included plot twists I never saw coming (I’m talking to you, Zootopia). It’s the kind of thing you hate to watch but love to experience. Stay in that mindset as you’re setting up your own twisted, slightly evil plots. You’re going to fall in love with them, I can guarantee it.

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.

It’s Been 3 Days and My Characters Have Already Betrayed Me

How to write spontaneously when you yourself are not spontaneous.


The story goes like this: character is alive. Character dies within 10 pages of book. Character stays dead because it is not typical for people to die and then come back to life, even in books. The end.

Except my character has decided that he does not want to remain dead. Therefore, I’m stuck with him for at least a third of the book. I know nothing about this guy – he was supposed to spend the majority of the story dead. Character development minimal. Now he’s all of a sudden important. Round, lovable and vital to almost every scene in the third act. I’m overwhelmed and not very pleased with his behavior.

If you’re reading this, and have always questioned why writing a novel is so hard, THIS IS THE REASON.

Writing well is all about being able to separate your real self from your writer self. A lot of people don’t agree with me on this, but hear me out. In my work and personal life, I am hyper-organized, anxious, have to have plans made weeks in advance and cannot deviate from the schedule under any circumstances.

For some people, this might translate fine into their writing life. Not the case with me. As a writer – writing this blog and fiction, specifically – I am disorganized, spontaneous and just let things happen as they happen. Locking myself too tightly into any kind of structure stifles my creativity. If I acted the same way while writing my novel as I did in my daily life, the twists and turns that come along with writing a YA sci-fi thriller would send me into a legitimate panic attack every 30 minutes.

In many ways, I’m a completely different person when I’m working on a book. That used to bother me. Now I realize it’s a necessity – and I’m willing to let the uncertainty just flow right past.

That’s a really hard thing to explain to people who do not write willingly in their spare time. But sometimes you have to immerse yourself so deeply into the present tense of your story that you can’t be who you are outside that story, or you won’t be able to tell it well. Or maybe I’m just nutty. Idk.

If you can’t handle spontaneity, writing in any capacity is still possible. It’s not just writing that’s a skill you have to develop: it’s having to learn to just let things happen and go where the words take you.

This is true for both fiction and other forms of writing. Things never finish up the way they start out. The best features, interviews and novels I’ve ever written have ended up in a completely different place than where they began. It’s not even frustrating anymore. It’s just part of the journey. You learn to love it, and laugh at it. You learn that not being able to predict everything that’s going to happen is part of what makes writing so rewarding.

You’re going to be OK. We all are. Hopefully.

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.

Why It’s So Easy to Get Discouraged

Why do we get discouraged so easily?


Writing doesn’t just drain you physically and mentally. It messes with your emotions, too. Sometimes it can feel like you’ve lost your way, as if you can’t even remember why you bother writing at all.

Why is it so easy to get discouraged – even if it doesn’t stop you from writing? Your emotions matter. Here’s why, sometimes, stuff just gets to you, where it comes from and how to handle it.

Sometimes the internet makes it seem like everyone is doing better than you are

There are days I just can’t handle scrolling through my Facebook feed. It has nothing to do with writing – it’s more of the fact that all my friends are getting married and having babies and I just can’t deal right now. Sometimes you just can’t stand seeing other people succeeding when you feel like you’re falling behind. What? This person’s publishing a book? Why can’t I do that … ?

Always remember that behind avatars, people exaggerate. It’s part marketing, part insecurity … in the publishing world, anyway. Often we try to make it seem like we’ve accomplished more than we actually have, whether intentionally or completely by accident. Just remember that you’re not competing against anyone else. Your journey is unique, just like your writing is. Keep on keepin’ on.

The writing life gets lonely sometimes

Everyone’s daily structure is different. Some people work in an office all day, come home to spend time with their families and somehow manage to squeeze in writing time at the end of their days. I work from home, communicate with clients via email on other messaging and, honestly, I don’t get out much. It gets lonely. Sometimes it can feel like no one gets why you spend so much of your time writing … but you are definitely not alone.

There are people out there who understand you – I promise. That’s one of the main reasons why I started this blog: to remind you that you’re not the only one stumbling through this really weird, unpredictable, confusing life. And there are plenty of other places like this online. If you can’t find a writing group near where you live, the internet, though sometimes unfriendly, can lead you to like-minded creatives who get what you’re going through.

Most people aren’t good at giving more than they receive

A really weird thing about the editor-writer relationship is that I hand out compliments, as the superior, and very rarely get anything in return. It doesn’t bother me and it’s nothing personal. But sometimes it can feel like you’re putting a lot of effort into lifting other people up, only to have them step on you without a single thank-you. What can you do? You can’t change other people. Writers especially often forget to return an offer with an offer of their own; we’re just forgetful, it happens. You can change that, though.

Set an example for everyone you meet. Offer to give and try not to expect much in return. Help fellow writers in any way you can. I’m not saying you should work for free: don’t let people take advantage of you. Just be kind. Do your best to encourage people when they’re struggling, even if their problems seem small and insignificant to you. This behavior draws you to other writers who will be willing to do the same for you, if you ever need it.

Don’t let yourself get too discouraged. Feeling left behind, lonely and unappreciated are all  common emotional roadblocks for writers, but that doesn’t mean you have to give into them. Keep trying, even when it seems pointless. Discouragement is a sign that you really want to go after something. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t feel so down. Move forward. Other people’s successes and opinions matter, but they don’t define you. YOU define you. YOU decide where to go from here.

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.