On Finishing Projects, and Immediately Starting New Ones

Your brain is silently screaming, “Wait! Slow down!”

There is no better feeling than writing that last word. Or hitting submit. Sending that last email. Crossing it off your list.

Finishing a writing project, big or small, is a huge accomplishment. And even if you’re convinced you hate every single word of the thing you’ve just completed (it happens), there’s at least a little bit of relief and the desire to celebrate mixed in there.


Some writers have absolutely no problem kicking back, turning on the TV and letting themselves completely decompress. Writing is hard work both mentally and physically. Even long term projects completed in small segments over multiple weeks or even months have the power to completely drain your sanity and energy levels after you’re finally allowed to put them behind you.

Which is exactly why it is NOT a good idea to immediately start on a new project.

If you’ve done this before, don’t feel guilty. Many of us have the same completely justifiable fear that if we don’t either write down or start working on a new idea right after we finish the old one, we’re going to forget about it, or never start it.

This is why I’m here to help you avoid this habit next time you’re in this situation.

What’s the big deal, though? What’s so bad about starting something new? It’s kind of like celebrating being done with something old, right? It’s PRODUCTIVE. It FEELS NICE. It’s probably also going to KILL YOU.

OK, not really. But if you don’t give your brain and body a chance to breathe before you start overworking them again, you’re going to burn yourself out. As someone who has yet to learn not to keep doing this (sigh), I’m telling you, it’s NOT worth it. It’s not healthy to force your brain to jump that fast into something new. And your body, having been working so hard for so long, just wants you to curl up and avoid the outside world like the good old-fashioned introvert you are.

I’m not saying you have to wait long. Just one day. Day 1: finish writing your thing. Day 2: do nothing. Day 3: start writing things again.

Just take one day. One day to rest. One day to let your brain catch up. One day to be proud of what you’ve just accomplished. One day to let the new ideas (maybe) start pouring in.

Because I can almost guarantee it, start pouring in, they will. If not the day after, then the day after that. Believe it or not – just because you have new ideas doesn’t mean you immediately have to start working on them. I know it’s tempting. Oh, do I know.

I encourage you instead to jot new ideas down as they come – on a piece of paper; on your phone; speak them out loud in a voice recording if that’s what you prefer or need to do. Get them out of your head, save them, and then walk away.

Finish. Rest. Start again. Don’t forget the middle component holding the outer two pieces together. You want your brain to keep generating new ideas, not go completely dark because you haven’t given it enough time between tasks to recharge.

It might feel like a major struggle. That’s OK. it’s like eating healthier when all you want for every meal are Doritos. It’s preventative. Over time, eating better will make your life better, the same way letting your brain rest will make you more productive down the road.

I’ve started using food analogies, which either means I’m hungry or half brain dead. Or both. Work hard, and then GO REST. I plan on doing the same.

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.

Let Your Writing Processes Evolve as You Do

You are not the same person you once were.


There is almost nothing better than realizing you’ve finally figured it out.

No, not your fastest winter commute route, not your true calling or the perfect blend of milk, sugar and coffee for your homemade latte (well, maybe you’ve figured all those things out – kudos to you).

I’m talking about your writing process. The perfect routine that has made you the most productive, fulfilled, maybe even the happiest you have ever been since you decided you wanted to be a writer.

A writer, at least from what I can tell based on my own experience, will hit these points in their writing life multiple times. It’s that week you accidentally work 60 hours and don’t even feel it because you’re writing and you’ve dreamed of this since forever. It’s that Saturday you wake up, intending to write for an hour or so before taking the rest of the weekend off – but instead you encounter a rush of creativity and end up writing until it’s suddenly dark out again.

Unfortunately, a writer will hit these points in their writing life just as often as things will fall apart. As much as you would love to continue on the way things are, life just doesn’t work like that. Things change. Not just externally – major life events that sometimes force you to hit the pause button on even your most fulfilling creative projects – but internally as well. Suddenly you can’t wake up at 4 a.m. like you used to. You can’t concentrate on the subway anymore. When you get home from work, you’re often too tired to spend your evenings writing. Saturdays become unproductive, at least in a creative sense.

I have a feeling this stops many writers from pursuing their greatest ambitions. As much as they would love to keep at it, the world spins too fast, and there no longer seems to be enough time; enough energy; enough drive to work as hard as they once did on something so uncertain.

This happens because things change, but many neglect to change their processes along with life’s twists and turns. In college I used to wake up at 3 in the morning so I had time for homework, extracurriculars and writing. I would love to be able to continue to do that, but I found out pretty soon after graduating that I could no longer handle it. I had to shift my entire routine to make room for writing and come to terms with the fact that my mind and body demanded more sleep. Even if it meant rearranging my entire life to make writing fit, I knew I had to do it. And I did. I still do. If I tried to keep everything the same as my life shifted, I would have to give up writing completely, because it does not work the same way now, in terms of timing and efficiency, as it has in the past.

As writers, we evolve. Once a night owl, you may now find that you get most of your writing done before 8 a.m. – because that is now what works best for you. While you used to completely despise outlines, now you depend on them to keep all your projects organized and moving forward.

There is no rule that says what works for you right now has to continue to work for you forever. As you grow, you have to be willing to let your writing processes shift around to accommodate that. Physically; emotionally; mentally. You are not the same person you once were. You are not the same writer you once were. Change is a sign of growth. Embrace it. Use it to your advantage. Whatever you need to do to keep writing, do it. Especially if it’s what you want, if it fills you up, if you need it, as many of us do.

If what you’re trying to do now isn’t working, don’t give up writing. Sit down and figure out how to make writing fit comfortably into your life again. If you have to give up something unessential along the way – weeknight TV, or going out to dinner twice a week – do it. If writing means that much to you, you will make room for it in your life. Trust me.

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.

For the Writer Who Is Not a Superhuman

Don’t stretch yourself until you break.


Before I started getting paid to freelance at the beginning of this year, I wrote a lot for free. I became an online contributor to as many sites as I could. When you’re trying to establish your credibility, and even your brand, that’s just what you do.

But as I slowly transitioned into freelancing full-time, I stopped making the time to contribute to sites that couldn’t pay me to produce content for them. Even though writing for free isn’t ideal, having a place to publish your thoughts – where there is no pressure, no deadline and no one telling you every little thing you’re doing wrong – is comforting. Fulfilling, even. It’s a relief.

I realized this morning that if I wanted to contribute to those sites again – if I wanted to volunteer my words for the sake of giving people something nice to read – I could no longer take on as many clients. And because business is business, student loans are student loans and not having my own home office is giving me hives (siiiiigh), I can’t afford to work less simply because I want to write for free sometimes.

I am the kind of person who wants to write everywhere. As often as I can. And I can’t.

I call this struggle “write-life balance.” You know, like work-life balance, but with writing. You would love to believe you’re some kind of superhuman because you have this career and this side gig and you volunteer and you have friends and you’re up-to-date on all the latest TV shows – we all would. But I’ve learned the hard way – again; again and once more – that it isn’t possible to do it all.

Perhaps you could, for a day or even for a week. But anything more than that, and you burn out. You crash, and it hurts. You break, and then you have to heal, and that takes time away from the things you want to do. You can build up a little bit of resistance to fatigue, but pressure is suffocating. It sucks the life out of you, and recovery is slow.

I would love to be able to keep up with everything – blogging, writing a novel, getting paid to write and edit and the like, plus more – but over the past few months, my limits have been challenged. I’ve pushed myself too far, again, and I’ve had to all but abandon projects I care about because I wasn’t making money working on them. One of the greatest challenges for every creator is trying to decide if something is worth doing, whether you get paid to do it well or not.

You’re a writer. You can write about anything you want; you have that power. But you also have to remember that without that power, you are not your true self. And if you expend all your power by trying to distribute it between too many things at once, you won’t be able to create as freely as you often have the privilege to do. And that will hurt. You will not be OK with that.

How do you divide your time between what you can do for free and what you must do to support yourself and/or others? I don’t have an answer to that question. If I did, I probably wouldn’t even be writing about this here. The problem is, every writer – and every writer’s life – is different. But I hope that if you are struggling with this, you will be able to make time for writing when you aren’t working, and time for you when you aren’t writing. I hope you find balance in your life. I will try to do the same.

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.

How I Balance My Writing (and Other) Projects

So here’s how I do what I do.


I’m a busy person. I’m not one of those people who likes talking about it (if you’re curious about my thoughts regarding our busyness-praising culture, I’m sure a post about that will pop up somewhere in the near future). But I’m not just “busy.” I’m productive. I write. A lot.

For some reason, that’s the only thing I seem to be good at: writing a lot. I know some of you really struggle with trying to get more writing done. So as I’m working on finishing up a project for grad school (stress, stress, stress), I wanted to take a little time and share my process with you. My hope is that maybe you will be able to take bits and pieces of it and apply it to your own writing process.

So here’s how I do what I do.

I work a little bit on everything, every day

Every day I basically do the same thing: write 2,000 words of a Novella Concept project (if I happen to be working on one that week), write 1,000 words for a different creative writing project for a client, write a few hundred words of my novel (I need to work on bumping that number up, it’s a bit of a struggle right now) and anywhere from four to eight articles for clients. I occasionally guest contribute here and there depending on how much homework I have to do.

Basically, I do a little bit of everything.

It took a few months for me to finally settle into a routine here. Does it get boring sometimes, always doing the same thing? Oh yeah. That’s why I mix it up sometimes with podcasting and videos. I do things I’m good at and things I’m not good at it. I experiment, to keep myself entertained, honestly. I make sure I’m giving everything at least a little bit of attention. You’re not technically supposed to do this, but it works for me, and that’s really all that matters at this point in my “career.”

I keep track of ideas, progress and completed projects

So I have this Google Doc. I first created it in January of this year. In it I keep track of every article I pitch, write and publish. I also keep track of my daily progress when writing my novellas. If a pitch gets rejected, I use that running list of places I’ve written for to see if it might fit anywhere else. If I have a new idea for a thing, that’s where I write it down. Literally everything having to do with my creative projects lives in that Doc, except the projects themselves.

The only way I can juggle everything is by keeping track. Otherwise I would pretty much lose track of everything and completely neglect someone waiting on me to pitch more stories. It really helps to be able to write down an idea for an article, scroll up a few pages and think, “Ah, that might be a good idea for this publication,” and drop it there for future reference. Again, this is what works for me. Some would probably be driven completely bonkers by this method.

Everything I do aligns with my goals and mission statement

I would not be involved in the things I’m involved in if I didn’t have a good reason for doing so. Over the past year I have realized something important: I’m really not in college anymore. I can’t function on only a few hours of sleep. I cannot subject myself to too much stress at once or I get sick. I am skilled enough at what I do that I don’t have to agree to do everything for free because of exposure. If I do something, it’s because it fits in with my mission.

I hate how that sounds on the surface. If you knew me, you would know I’m not a selfish person. I am on a mission to help people learn to live smarter, healthier lives. That is my mission statement and basically my brand. It’s everywhere, on all my social profiles, etc. My “goal” is to help people do a sort of specific, sort of broad thing. Sometimes I write about productivity. Sometimes I write about mushy relationship stuff. I write about health when I can – it’s a competitive market. Just because it isn’t about health specifically doesn’t mean I’ll turn it down. If it still helps people, that’s all that matters to me.

Yes, there’s a lot of coffee-drinking and video-watching and running and other things wedged in-between there, but that’s pretty much my life. It took a lot of “writing for exposure” to get here. I interned (wrote and edited for free) with an online magazine for almost three years before I ever landed any freelance work. I’m not an exceptional writer. I don’t try to be. I have things to say and specific ways I want to help people through writing. Maybe that’s the key. Don’t try to be the best. Just write. See where it takes you. Push yourself sometimes; other times, let yourself rest.

I’d love to hear about your writing process. Do you work on multiple things at once, or one thing at a time? What’s your next big project? As always, any questions/concerns, compose your words of wisdom below!

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 iStock.

Writing Can Be a Healthy Coping Mechanism, Not Just an Escape Route

Writing is more than just an escape from reality. It can help you on your journey back into it, too.


Have you ever heard a writer describe their process as a way to “escape” from reality? Have you ever described your process this way to yourself or someone else?

There are times when writing takes us away from the circumstances we are not ready to face. It sweeps us off into a different time and place, where we can worry more about our characters and their situations than about our own in the real world.

And in those times when we need a break and need to get away from it all for awhile, this is fine. Healthy, even.

But what about when we’re ready to face those things that have been holding us back? What about when we can’t avoid them any longer?

That is when writing becomes a coping mechanism, instead of an escape.

It’s hard enough to fight off the negative feelings and memories that come with going through something difficult. Our most recent novella was about cancer, so we will use that as an example throughout the rest of this post.

How do you cope with having cancer, when you cannot physically face it (in the sense that you cannot talk to it or give it a well-deserved punch in the face)? For awhile, writing can certainly be your escape from the confusion and uncertainty. But eventually, you have to deal with it.

Maybe writing about cancer as someone who is going through cancer seems a little cliche. But who knows cancer better than someone who has dealt with it firsthand?

Writing about what you are going through helps you deal with the emotions associated with the issue you are facing.

Which is important, because, if you haven’t figured it out by now, if we are not psychologically healthy, everything else becomes a lot harder to handle.

Not to mention the fact that basically characters are just like people (almost), and when you write a character who understands the exact thoughts and feelings you are having related to your experience, it’s almost like you’re talking to someone else who has been through what you’re going through.

Being able to look at your circumstances almost through the eyes of someone else is a luxury people who don’t use writing as a coping mechanism just don’t have.

Why should you care?

Writing can help you with anything. Whether you are journaling or crafting a story centered on the issue at hand, whether you end up sharing your words with someone else or not, words really can heal. Not necessarily the body, but the spirit.

Maybe you are at a point in your life where you are questioning whether or not what you do every day is even worth it. Maybe you feel stuck, and there isn’t anyone to talk to about it. Maybe there’s something way back in your past that you’ve buried, but never got over.

Maybe you’re just lonely.

Writing can be a great escape. But never underestimate how much of an impact writing can also have on the process of recovery and healing, no matter how minor or severe the tragedy. You are never alone, but if you feel isolated, you still have your words. Let them speak when you cannot.

Image courtesy of Alpha/flickr.com.

The Most Difficult Things Writers Have to Explain to Non-Writers, Part 2


One big difference between people who write and people who don’t is that people who write get what it means to be a writer … and people who don’t write … don’t.

While we’d love to say writing is all fun all the time, the reality is, it isn’t. Which can be frustrating when there are friends and family always going on and on about how easy we have it, getting to write for a living (or trying to).

Our first post on this topic covered a few literary phenomenons most people don’t understand, like characters taking over stories. This post talks more about writing as a process, which is also something nearly impossible to understand if you don’t basically write to live.

Difficult Thing #4: Writing is hard

“You’re a writer! Wow! You have, like, the easiest job ever!”


Enlighten me. Where in the world did this one come from?

Introduce me to a writer who can look me straight in the eye and tell me they have an easy job. It doesn’t matter if you’re a novelist or a journalist or a PR intern or whatever your official title is. Writing is hard. There are days words just do not come together to form coherent sentences. But most of the time, you have to write anyway, because there are deadlines and people counting on you and expecting you to get your work done. Always.

Sure, maybe some days words come easily and you can write ten 500-word articles in an eight-hour work day. But you’re not just a writer. You’re a reader, a re-reader, a proofreader, an editor, people tell you to rewrite, and re-rewrite, because a first draft is never perfect, and sometimes, a final product has to come pretty darn close.

It’s not that writers don’t love what they do. But to them, writing is work. If you want to be a writer because you think it will be easy, you should probably start looking into different professions.

Difficult Thing #5: Writing is not always fun

“You’re a writer? I’ve always wished I was a writer, it sounds like so much fun!”

Sure … writing can be fun. Sometimes. But it’s a huge misconception that being a writer is the most fun job you could have. For one thing, writing is hard (see above). Just because you might be able to sit down and write a story that makes you laugh and is entertaining to write doesn’t mean it’s entertaining to edit, revise, rewrite, etcetera.

And writers don’t just get to write fiction all the time. It depends on individual disciplines, but there’s always professional writing involved, too. Proposals, query letters, emails, marketing materials, articles, blog posts, all the technical stuff that allows writing to even be considered a profession at all.

Because many writers literally write to live (it’s their job), they write all day, and then end up sometimes writing even more, on their own, just for fun. That’s not easy on the brain after awhile.

Difficult Thing #6: Writing is literally as important as eating food regularly

How many times have people asked you, when they find out you’re a writer, “Do you write a lot [frequently]?” Probably, well, a lot (frequently).

For non-writers, the idea of writing daily is basically a foreign concept. It’s different when you’re so used to writing every day it becomes almost an involuntary activity.

To the dedicated, disciplined, experienced writer, writing isn’t just something that happens during free time, like playing video games or chatting with friends on social media. In one form or another, writing, like eating food, is a daily necessity. Without it, everything else seems to fall to pieces. Whether it’s a few minutes of journaling, writing an email or working on a blog post, article or story, words need to be written at some point throughout the day.

So if you’re not a writer, and you usually roll your eyes when your friend says she’ll meet you in five minutes – she has to finish writing – give her 10 minutes instead. She’ll be much more pleasant to hang around when she’s done and has it crossed off her to-do list.

Writing is a process. The difficulties that come along with it, while rewarding when it’s all said and done, are often hard to navigate through. Send this post to your non-writing friends. Remind them that you’re a hard worker just like anyone else. Progress isn’t always instantaneously detectable. You’re a writer, not a magician.

Give your writing friends a pat on the back. And some chocolate. And a hug. They need it.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

A Glimpse Into My Writing Process (and Why I’m Changing It Up)


This post was inspired by Jake Jarvi’s latest PoPS update! (If you don’t know what PoPS is, you need to go here and get caught up now now NOW!).

I used to be a hardcore planner when it came to, well, everything. Especially when it came to writing. I’m a huge perfectionist, which you already know if you read this update.

The deeper I dove into writing, and the more frequently I started blogging, the more time I realized I was actually wasting trying to plan everything out before it actually happened. That, combined with trying to backtrack and polish every paragraph I wrote as I wrote it, made it nearly impossible to finish large writing projects.

So I have adopted a few new techniques within the past few years to refine my writing process, and to be able to do the kind of writing I do now (noveling plus this blog, and a few other pending projects). Here’s a glimpse into the process that has always, until fairly recently, worked best for me.

Writing as soon as I wake up 

I am a morning person. I used to wake up at three in the morning just to be able to get as much done as possible before the rest of the world woke up and started bothering me. I can’t do that anymore, which is probably a good thing health-wise (I don’t fall asleep at my desk anymore!). But over the past few years I have gotten in the habit of writing as early on in my day as possible. Productivity to the extreme.

Throwing chronological order to the wind

At some point, I stopped writing my stories “in order.” When you’re running low on motivation, you often just have to write what comes to you when it comes, even if it doesn’t come next in the storyline. I got into the habit of skipping all around, going back and filling in all the holes later. That technique is actually what helped me finish the first draft of my latest book.

Clearing away all distractions 

A lot of people get easily distracted when writing, including me. For a long time, I treated that as a bad thing. I refused to write with any kind of background noise. I had to disconnect my wifi, turn of my phone and basically lock myself in my room if I wanted to get anything writing-related done.

It all got done. It worked for me then. But lately, especially since I started working on a new book as part of NaNoWriMo 2015, I’ve been trying a few different tactics to help me get writing done while feeling a lot less isolated and restrained.

How (and why) I’m changing it up

I don’t usually write first thing when I wake up anymore. Being in graduate school and having a lot of other writing to do aside from my fiction makes it hard for me to concentrate if I don’t have at least some of my to-do list out of the way before diving into my novel. This is a completely new thing for me, and it actually takes me a lot longer to write 2,000 words in the evening than it does first thing in the morning. But sometimes, that’s actually okay. It forces me to spend more time with my characters, which I think is important for the kind of character-centric story I’m writing.

I’ve actually written 50,000 words of my novel straight through from the beginning. No skipping scenes I’m struggling with or moving on to scenes I’m more motivated to write. I’ve just been pushing straight through. It really forces me to think through what I’m doing and adds a tiny element of intrigue into the mix, which I’ve been struggling to find personally as I’ve been writing for awhile.

I am allowing myself to be distracted. Adding this to the ‘experiment’ was a dangerous move, I won’t lie to you. It’s part of the reason writing every day has been taking so long. I leave Facebook open. I’ll write 500 words and then watch a video or listen to a few minutes of a podcast. Taking five, 10-minute breaks actually really helps keep me on track, even though you’d expect the opposite. My brain gets tired. I’ve been working a little too hard these past few months, I know, I’m … working on it. I need short breaks between scenes. I never thought it would ever come to that, but it has.

I think as we grow and mature in our art or science or whatever you want to categorize it as, our processes have to change along with that growth. I’m not necessarily a professional writer, I don’t technically get paid to make words happen, but I’ve been writing for a long time. I’ve really noticed major shifts in the way I do this whole writing thing, even in the past few months writing for Lifehack and SuccessStory.com. And I think, I hope, that’s a good sign. I hope it means I’m ready to move to the next level. To actually do something meaningful with all these words.

It’s like a puzzle. I’m still figuring out how all the pieces fit together, maybe not the right way, but the way that makes the most sense to me. The way that will get me where I’m supposed to be, wherever, whatever the heck that is.

What’s your writing process like? Do you have specific techniques you use to get your work done? Have you noticed any changes in the way you write, process-wise, over time?

In case you didn’t stop reading earlier to check out Platoon of Power Squadron (or any of Jake’s between-episode updates), here’s the video he posted this morning, if you’re in need of a little writing inspiration (or more places to find inspiration to fuel your own writing process).

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of John Lester/flickr.com.

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.

We Can’t Keep Writing the Same Stories Forever (Midweek Novel Update #22)


Something happens when you spend too much time fixated on one story.

Or, rather, something DOESN’T happen: growth.

The ever-fabulous Mur Lafferty brought this to my attention during yesterday’s ISBW podcast (because there’s always someone around to hit you over the head with a figurative baseball bat when you need it most). If we spend all our time and energy only ever buried in one story, that story is going to bury us DEAD. Basically. Figuratively.

Even before hearing these words of wisdom, I was already planning on starting a new project this November. Without realizing it until recently, I’ve managed to work on the same story for the past four WriMos (July Novel Writing Month 2014—RIP—, NaNoWriMo 2014, and the past two Camp NaNoWriMos.

It hasn’t always been the exact same story all the way through; it’s changed a lot over the past three years. But a lot of the characters have made it through most of the revisions, and honestly, it’s time to put them to bed for awhile. Not forever, because there will be four more books in the series. But for now.

Which is why I am doing everything I possibly can to finish the book before this Sunday, so I can have a week “off” before NaNo starts.

I’ve been going on for over a month now about how close I am to finishing, and I still haven’t. I know that probably makes me sound, I don’t know, unreliable in my predictions. But the problem is, not only am I not “working toward” a specific word count: currently, I’m writing backwards.

I don’t usually write chronologically, you see. I pretty much knew how the last third of my book was going to go (with the exception of a cliffhanger ending I actually did not originally plan, which is amazing). So I ended up writing the majority of that first. And honestly, when I was really struggling to get words in a few months ago, I skipped a lot of the more “challenging” scenes.

So I’m working my way back to them, filling in the gaps, and by the end of the week, I’ll finally be done.

I tell you this now, of course, so I have more excuses to actually sit down and finish than I do not to.

I’m not sick of the story or ready to say goodbye to the characters. I’m also not planning four more books for the fun of it. Some stories are too big to tell in one volume, and that’s the case here. But what I am ready to do is write something new. Work on all these story ideas I’ve had to brush off because “I’m still working on this one.”

It’s been over three years, and while I’ve written a lot of other things on the side, I’ve stuck with this. I’ve brought it to what it has become, a real story that I can be proud of. But I am itching to move on, to grow as a writer, to challenge myself. That’s why it’s taken so long to get to this point. It’s a challenge, but not the right kind. It’s fun, but it’s too comfortable now.

I am telling a story I hope you’ll get to read someday. About ordinary people who take their first steps toward becoming extraordinary because they needed to challenge themselves and grow up. The book itself is like a mirror of the process I’ve gone through to write it.

I’m a very optimistic, yet honest person. I would love for it to make it all the way. But it’s not a guarantee. There are a lot of writers out there who all want the same thing. I’m not doing it because I want to “get published.” I’m doing it because, if there’s a story waiting to be told, and no one ever tells it—what happens to it? Does it just … fade away?

I think stories deserve a better outcome than that, don’t you?

It has been a long, twisted road. But I can see it coming to an end. It’s right there. After all this work, after all this time, I’ll finally be able to stop rambling on about how I’m not done yet.

Don’t worry, though. When I’m done, you’ll know.

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.

It All Starts at 0 (Midweek Novel Update #21)


The thing about writing a novel is, everyone starts at the exact same word count: 0.

Like the book itself, the process of writing a novel is not continuous. It moves in stages of varying degrees of confusion and excitement. At the beginning, once you get going, it’s hard to control yourself. You have a lot of ideas and are finally getting the chance to write them down.

You might write 5,000+ words in your first day or two, because it’s new. It’s exciting, and you have few other writing days to compare those first few to. You’re writing a book!!! The future is full of possibilities.

After about 15,000 words you start to slow down a little. You still write a little bit, consistently, but it’s lost its “novel” appeal (ha, ha). Your writing, while still important, generally moves down a little on your priority list. If you get some writing done today, great. If not, well, the world’s still spinning.

At 30,000 words, give or take a few thousand, WITHOUT FAIL, you will hit a wall. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done this a thousand times or this is your first attempt. The wall is there, it is invisible, but it is there. You will hit it, and you will hit it hard.

At this point you will either drag yourself over that wall, a few hundred words at a time, or your mind and body will scream at you to give up.

I’m telling you right now, do not stop. There are endless rainbows and unicorns on the other side of that wall. If you stop, you will never see them. It will feel like you are dragging your entire body across concrete only using your elbows. You will want to quit. It will not seem worth it.

But at 40,000 words, you will reach the top, and you will understand why everyone keeps telling you this literary insanity is worth it.

Don’t go too fast down the other side; you still have a long way to go. Take it slow. You’ll fly through the next 10,000 words whether you realize it or not.

At 50,000 words, you might be finished, and that’s amazing. But you might not be. That means, yes, you’ll have to go through this process all over again.

65,000. 80,000. Maybe even 100,000.

Some walls you’ll crash right through. Some you won’t. It’s unpredictable, but it is the most rewarding experience you’ll ever make yourself plow through.

I talk a lot in these posts about how I’ve been working on the same book for three years. That’s a completely true statement; I haven’t started a new story. But a few times, I have started over, pulling a few pieces from older fragments of drafts to start from.

Back in March or April, though, I started at 0. I had hit a different kind of barrier: a sudden, sharp realization that I was not telling the story from the right point of view. I was writing a story that needed a back story all its own, and even more importantly, that back story needed to be told from the perspective of a character I barely knew.

Just like starting a new novel, I began at 0. Some of you have watched me move through the above stages. I’ve done it twice now, having surpassed 100,000 words within the past week. I am coming up on 115,000 words, which means I’m moving slowly and steadily forward. Still.

I can feel it coming close to the end, though. How do I know? Because, unlike the normal pattern of flow-drag-flow, something else happens when you reach the end of your story. Your brain knows it’s coming, somehow. You can see it in front of you. And all you want to do, all day every day, is write until it’s done.

I have finally reached that point. All I want to do is write. The motivation, the excitement, it’s all there. I can feel it.

Unfortunately, it’s not the way it used to be (read: I am now an adult, no longer in high school, which is honest to goodness the last time I actually finished a book). I have other stuff I need to do. Work, school, you know, adult-y things. I have to stop myself, and save the rest for tomorrow.

But I mean it this time. I am so close it’s scary.

We’ll see where I am a week from now. Who knows. I may have already finished.

If you’ve been here, you understand how I feel.

It’s amazing.

Worth almost three and a half years, one hundred percent.

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.