Author Archives: mnj23

Make Your Deadlines

Megan Norris Jones

My writing background is in journalism, and every good journalist learns how to write under deadline. You have a story due. You report it. You write it. You turn it in. You repeat. Because your editor is counting on you. And because it really is going to be published with your name on it, so it had better be good.

But even though I know how to write on deadline, I have difficulty moving my fiction forward at the same efficient pace of my nonfiction because (1) there is no editor waiting on it, and (2) I have no assurance it will ever be published anyway.

So how can I simulate the efficiency-producing deadlines of journalism in my fiction writing? Through a combination of written deadlines and external accountability. Continue reading

Writing Boosters

Megan Norris Jones

Good writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It needs direction and inspiration. Here are a few of the books I have been reading lately that have given my own writing a boost. What books have helped you improve your writing?

The Magic Words by Cheryl Klein
This book on writing has been a real gem. It covers the nuts and bolts of the process but also infuses each page with the inspiration and wonder that made me become a writer in the first place. To make things even better, the entire book is devoted to writing for children, particularly middle grade and young adult. The exercises throughout the book are particularly helpful because they focus on your work in progress instead of assigning unrelated exercises.   Continue reading

Train Your Brain

Megan Norris Jones

I used to be an A+, top-of-the-class, nothing-less-than-perfect-will-do student. I could study like a machine, get it done, and move on to the next thing. But I’ve realized something lately. I don’t study any more. I’ve graduated from school; there are no tests, and if I want to know something, I just look it up. So my razor-sharp concentration skills that I was so proud of? Yeah, they’ve gotten a little fuzzy, and it’s starting to affect my writing.

There are plenty of contributing factors. I have three children who ask me a question or need something from me approximately every ninety seconds. Ninety seconds is not a long time to develop concentration. And if they don’t need me after ninety seconds has passed? I remember something I’ve been meaning to look up on my phone. Or I check email. Or Twitter (follow me @mnj23!). Or I’m already plugged into a podcast. And then a kid asks a question again. I am essentially training my brain to be distracted. And if I’m distracted when I’m trying to write, my productivity plummets. Continue reading

A New Year Needs a New Routine

Megan Norris Jones

The key to being a writer is writing. The key to writing is establishing a routine. And the key to routine is consistency. But do you know what my life isn’t? Consistent. Sure, I’ll have a routine that works for a season, but schedules change, and then my routine falters, and my writing suffers.

For the second year, WriteOwls is hosting Write by Midnight in the month of February with the goal of helping you—and us—establish a daily writing routine by the end of the month.

Write by Midnight was a huge success for me personally last year. At the time, I had five hours every Tuesday to write, and  I used Write by Midnight to establish a short daily morning routine to keep my momentum going throughout the week.

But, do you know what? I don’t have Tuesdays any more. And I don’t have mornings either. Life has changed since February 2017, and I need a new push to establish a new routine. Continue reading

The Perils of Podcasts

Megan Norris Jones

Ignore the title of this post for a minute, and let me tell you one thing. I LOVE podcasts. I love how they let me keep up with the news, dive deep into interesting topics, learn new things—all while completing the mundane tasks of everyday life. In short, podcasts can make laundry fun. Need I say more?

Yes, unfortunately there is more to say. I’ve realized lately that podcasts don’t actually make boring things interesting. They give me something interesting to think about while I’m doing boring things. Which is great. The nerd in me rejoices at so much easily accessible knowledge. But while my mind is constantly stimulated by waves of new ideas, that onslaught of information is crowding out something priceless: my own ideas. Continue reading