Breaking News

Pep Talk from Megan McCafferty


You've committed yourself to a month-long writing marathon. This guarantees that over the next 30 days, you'll try out your very best excuses for NOT writing. Some of my personal favorite procrastination tactics include: creating dance party playlists, organizing all the shoes in my closet, and Google-stalking unrequited crushes from middle school. Oh, the endless time-sucking potential of the Internet!

See, the only thing writers love more than writing is finding ways to avoid writing. Why do we do this? I have a simple theory: We're scared people won't like what we write.

That's a legitimate concern. Because—guess what?—there will be people who don't like what you write. Someone might even say your work is "the biggest piece of excrement in the history of excrement," as a non-fan once described one of my books.

(Right now you're thinking, "Um. This is the worst pep talk ever." Stay with me.)

In my ten years as a novelist, I've realized that I have no control over how readers react to my work. If I quit whenever I got a negative review, I'd never complete a sentence. It's impossible to please everyone, so I don't even bother trying. The only person I aim to please is myself.

Literally. I write the types of stories that I like to read—and so should you. Make yourself the target audience for your work. If you're bored (an often undiagnosed cause of writer's block, by the way), you can bet readers will be snoozing too. But if you're passionate about your ideas, that enthusiasm will come through in the form of vivid characters, lively dialogue, and compelling plotlines.

You're a unique individual who sees the world like no one else. Now use your powers of observation and imagination to put your one-of-a-kind perspective into words. At the end of the month, will everyone fall in love with what you've written? Definitely not. Will you? Maybe… but probably not.

That's to be expected. Great novels spring from crappy first drafts. And you'll never see your story reach its page-turning potential if you don't write anything at all.

Non-procrastinatingly yours,

Megan McCafferty

Megan McCafferty is the author of the Jessica Darling series. sloppy firsts was an ALA Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, an ALA Popular Paperback, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. Its sequel, second helpings, was also selected to the NYPL list, and was a Booklist Editor’s Pick for one of the best novels of 2003. charmed thirds was an instant New York Times bestseller and a NYPL pick. The series’ last entries, fourth comings and perfect fifths, also made the New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, Booksense, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and other national bestseller lists. Megan has contributed to numerous national magazines and nonfiction anthologies, and her work has been translated into 11 languages. Her latest book, Bumped, will be in stores soon.

View All Breaking News