There Are Two Kinds of Write-Life Balance, and You’re Probably Failing at One of Them

I can sense your struggle.

There are two kinds of write-life balance.

You know, write-life balance — like work-life balance, but much less work-y.

The first kind is the one you are likely most familiar with: juggling a dozen responsibilities and never seeming to be able to fit writing in the proper place between them all.

The second is probably less familiar to you, yet it’s the problem I have been dealing with for more than a decade at this point.

Here’s what happens: I write, and I write, and I write. And making time for everything else becomes increasingly difficult the more things I am writing.

I know I’m not the only one. It’s the curse of the introverts. Don’t sit there and tell me you’ve never thought, as you were getting ready to go out with friends, “I’d much rather stay home and write.”

I could give you all the time management and success tips in the world. But if you want to solve your balance problem — not writing enough, or writing too much — you have to start with something a little more abstract.

You have to start with being honest about the importance of writing in your life.

You need to decide not HOW important writing is to you, but WHY it matters, and in what manner you want writing to fit into your life.

Only then can you figure out how to make room for the kind of writing you want to do.

In my case, writing is my job; I get paid to make words happen. That is why I write as much as I do from day to day. If writing weren’t my job, I would still write, because I am at my best when I am telling stories. I would just have more room for other things, like seeing my friends more often.

Yet I don’t worry about not having as much room for non-writing things right now. I’m on a personal timeline — this is how I want things to roll for the time being, and I’m happy with the current structure of my life.

You might not write all day because you have to. You might do it because you want to — and there’s nothing more frustrating to you than not having as much time to write as you’d like.

You have a completely different issue. You’re looped within a cycle that doesn’t currently allow for optimal writing time.

But here’s the cool thing about schedules: you have the power to change them.

If you’re not happy with the way things are, you can change that. You can shift things around to make room for writing. And if you can’t — if you feel you’re in a place where you desperately want to write, but there is not a space of time that allows for it no matter how much you wish there were — then you need to figure out what’s keeping you from writing, so you can, in one way or another, clear it from your schedule.

It’s easier said than done. I know. I’ve been there. I wouldn’t suggest swinging to the other end of the spectrum where I prefer to dwell, but you shouldn’t have to deprive yourself of adequate time to create. If you’re reading this, I hope it’s because you’re a creative human being and you need to stimulate your brain to function.

You are my people. I know just how hard it is to balance writing with everything else. I can’t say I have all the answers you’re looking for. But maybe there’s some kind of in-between ground we can all reach together.

Here’s to writing a lot, as much as possible, not because we feel we have to, but because life wouldn’t matter quite so much if we didn’t.


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.

Actively Pursuing Your Muse: How to Work and Live Like a Writer Instead of Aspiring to Be One

Want to be a writer? Move beyond dreaming.

Do you want to be a writer – or do you write?

What’s the difference?

You know how powerful your word choice is. So think about it. Do you dream of becoming a writer, or are you currently, this very moment, working on a writing project that will help you reach a specific goal?

It is not enough to aspire to see your dreams become reality. You must act. You have to DO something if you want something to happen.

This is how to actively pursue your writing goals, one word at a time.

Break down your barriers to productivity

The most common reason writers do not write efficiently, or at all, is because of their inability to tune out distractions. This goes beyond “Facebook does not help you write.” You do not need to do in-depth research on a topic for your book right now, unless you have specifically blocked out this time in advance only for research directly related to your book.

There are other, less obvious reasons for not writing too: issues with confidence. Imposter syndrome. Dependence on excuses. For some people, mental health or physical health issues are actually huge factors that prevent even the most driven creatives from starting and completing writing projects.

Whatever your barriers are, only you can break them down and get back to writing. Solutions can range anywhere from using apps like Cold Turkey to block specific websites during work hours to meeting with a mental health professional to discuss mechanisms for dealing with everyday setbacks.

You can’t just wait around expecting things to change without taking steps to changing them yourself. It’s all on you. But everything changes once you not only figure out what it is that’s stopping you from writing, but actively begin applying solutions to keep those roadblocks from standing in your way.

Change the way you talk about your writing goals

Instead of saying, “I hope to be a writer someday,” focus on talking about what you’re currently working on – while you’re actually working on it.

“I’m currently writing posts for a blog I plan to launch at the end of the month.”

There is, first of all, a social accountability component to this. You’re much more likely to actually click away from Facebook, where you’ve posted all about your current project, and actually work on it, since you don’t want people to assume you’re all talk and no write. GUILT IS POWER.

Secondly, goals have to be specific. And actionable. SMART. “Be a writer someday” is not a goal. It’s a dream. Dreams are fantasies. Goals, when actions are applied consistently, can be achieved. You can and will launch that blog if you talk like someone who’s in the process of doing something instead of someone who is thinking about doing something.

Know the difference between motivation and inspiration

There will be times when you feel inspired to create, yet don’t have the motivation to write anything. This is because the two concepts are not synonymous. Inspiration is the feeling that you have an idea you want to pursue further, while motivation is the drive to actually sit down and pursue an idea.

Knowing the difference is a major key to making your way toward success as a writer. After years of writing, I know what kinds of things inspire me, and I know what to do when I have an idea but can’t start on it right away. I also know when throughout the day, week and month I tend to feel the most motivated to work on side projects. This helps me create my own personal workflow schedule that allows me to get things done when I’m ready to work, and take it easy when I’m not.

It’s a misconception that if you want to be a writer, you have to write every day. You only have to write consistently. If you know Fridays are your least busy days, and you usually feel highly motivated on these days, you can designate Friday as the one day of the week you write a blog post, or work on your novel, or whatever kind of writing it is you’re doing.

All that really matters is that you are writing when you say you are going to, no matter what.

Write

If you do not write, then you are not a writer. Talking about all the things you’re going to write does not make you a writer. Gushing about how inspired you feel to start a new project does not guarantee that you are going to succeed in the fast-paced, unpredictable thrill ride that is the writing life.

Yes, there are legitimate excuses for writers who are struggling, especially if they are legitimate to you in your own mind. But you have two choices: you can either let these things continue to separate you from this thing you love to do, or you can take small steps to begin making your way back to it – even if it’s hard. Even when no one else seems to understand how important this writing thing is to you, in your life.

Creating goals and meeting milestones are very different things. The only way to meet a writing goal of any kind is to write. And whatever motivates you to get that writing done, whatever convinces you that acting on your inspiration is worth the time and effort, do it; use it; make it count.

This is the way of the writer: the actions you take build the foundation of your future as a professional creator. It’s not about what you hope will happen, but what will happen, if you stick with it long enough, if you work hard enough, if you earn this by actively deciding never to quit.

So, are you willing to work? Are you ready to make writing happen – for real?


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.

Top Tips to Make You a More Productive Writer in 2017

All the resources you need to maximize writing productivity this year.

Since I’m either sleeping, gaming or traveling as you’re reading this (NOT WORKING – YAY), I’ve gone ahead and rounded up a series of articles to help you maximize your writing productivity in 2017.

Whatever you might have struggled with productivity-wise this year, the resources below should be able to direct you toward strategies you can use to write more, better, happier. Let me know which topics are most helpful to you, so I can write more about them this year.


How to make more time for writing

How to Organize Your Writing Time for Optimal Productivity

How I Find Time to Write Every Day

Why It’s OK to Say, “I Just Don’t Have Time Right Now”

Time Management Tips for Writers

A Different Way to Think About Time Management


How to get more writing done in less time

5 Things Killing Your Writing Productivity

The Trick That Pushed Me to Write 26,000 Words in 3 Days

My Productivity Formula

Writing Productivity Tips: How to Write 5,000+ Words Per Day

How to Write Your Way Into a Flow State, Fast


How to create an optimal writing schedule

How to Structure Your Life to Make Room for Creativity

Productivity Tips for People Who Can Only Write at Night

This Is What a Full-Time Writer’s Schedule Looks Like

How to Train Yourself to Stick to Your Own Deadlines


What to do when you can’t write

A Writer’s Guide to Powering Through Discouragement

Here’s What to Do When You’re Struggling to Focus

Is Tech Hurting Your Writing Productivity?

You Don’t Need Motivation to Write – You Just Need Fewer Distractions

How to Minimize Writing Distractions


Motivation for writers of all disciplines

5 Things to Remember When Writing All the Time Starts Seeming Pointless

How to Turn Inspiration Into Motivation, and Motivation Into Productivity

4 YouTube Videos to Watch When You Desperately Need Writing Inspiration

If You’re Writing, You’re Not Wasting Your Time

4 TED Talks That Will Inspire You to Write Again


Start thinking about your writing goal(s) for the upcoming year. What’s it going to take to achieve them? Rest, recharge, and get ready to write more than you ever have before in the months to come. YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.


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.

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

Are you willing to work for it?

writing

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.

5 Things Killing Your Writing Productivity

You’re doing this to yourself, you know.

writing

How do you become a more productive writer? That’s a loaded question. Productivity, as you hopefully already know, requires a few major attributes in terms of writing well, often, with purpose. One reason many self-proclaimed aspiring writers can’t get any writing done is because they can’t get past common roadblocks to writing productivity … or rather, they don’t even know what these potential roadblocks are.

There are habits and circumstances killing your writing productivity. Here are the most common ones, and how to extinguish them.


1. Self-editing

Self-editing, while you’re writing, is destructive and time-consuming. It’s tempting; I know. I still do it way more often than I should, too. If you’re always stopping to fix what you just wrote five seconds ago, your piece isn’t going to move forward very quickly, if at all. As tempting as it may be, save editing for later. Always finish writing first to make the best use of your writing time.


2. Technology

Too much dependence on tech can distract you and slow down your progress. Sometimes you get caught up in a new writing or productivity app and put your actual writing second instead of making it a priority. I’m not saying tech is evil. I’m not saying you can’t use it. But if it’s taking away from your writing time, you might want to consider relying less on apps and programs to stimulate your creativity.


3. Excuses

What’s your excuse for not getting any writing done yesterday? Mine was “I’ve already been staring at a screen for too long today, this 1000 words can wait.” Excuses are your worst enemy and probably one of the hardest writing hurdles to overcome, especially as a beginner. They’re how you convince yourself to put writing at the bottom of your to-do list. Break them down.


4. Looking for motivation/inspiration

Do you always try to “get inspired” before sitting down to write? You have things a little backwards. Motivation and inspiration are the result of actually doing something. You probably won’t usually feel like writing until you’ve been sitting in a chair writing for awhile. Write, and you will feel motivated to write. Write, and you will feel inspired to keep writing.


5. Lack of focus

Sometimes I realize I’m trying to work on too many writing projects at once, and that’s why I struggle to get more writing done. You’re much better off focusing on one project at a time, even if that means you sit down, spend an hour on one thing, take a break, and then spend another hour on something else. You need to focus on something in order to make real progress with it.


To accomplish everything you want to accomplish as a writer, you need to get as much writing done as possible. Plenty of things can and will get in your way of that. Stuff happens. What’s important is that you try, over time, to stay as consistent and focused as possible. Slow, steady work is better than no work at all. Writing, as a process, is different for everyone. Your ability to be productive despite your current roadblocks is what makes you stand out. We all struggle. It’s part of the journey. You have the power to overcome it, though. Write on.


What’s killing your writing productivity this week? How do you plan on crushing those things to get more done next week?


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.