Looking For Boredom – Taking a Break From My Writing

I’m not a professional writer. No one is paying me to blog or to write. No one is giving me deadlines.

Well, no one outside my head.

In this day and age, everyone is encouraged to have a side hustle. And to monetize that hustle. When you’re a writer, you’re always encouraged to be working on your next thing.

What Writing Projects Does Morgan Have?

I’ve got:

  • my fantasy that I’m querying
  • the rough draft of its sequel, waiting for a final version of book one before I do any more
  • my middle grade contemporary fantasy that’s in the middle of revisions
  • my genderbent Robin Hood rough draft, that doesn’t know if it’s a f-f romance or an adventure
  • my 80% drafted space fantasy
  • 3 polished short stories
  • 18 drafted short stories from my “NaNo of Shorts” — 50,000 words of short stories written two Novembers ago
  • random poetry, sometimes themed for Inktober
  • my weekly blog and vlog and podcast posts

Very little of it is in a finished state. Except, of course, these posts.

Where does this leave me?

Always feeling like there is work to be done.

That list I just went over? Doesn’t go into my writing adjacent projects — beta-reading for friends, weekly author spotlights, slush reading for The Oddville Press, volunteering at science-fiction and fantasy conventions, helping with query rewrites, and running social media for several writing groups and an SFF club. There’s a reason I use Trello to track all of my obligations. Plus, the monthly local open mic night for writers and the 2 weekly livestreams I’m usually on.

Oh! And my never-ending to-read pile. Both for fun and because you’re supposed to know what’s in your genre. And your writing is supposed to be made better by reading widely.

So. After months of making token progress on my space fantasy? I’m taking a break from my writing.

Not from the blog or the vlog or the podcast. Not from the weekly livestreams. Not from reading. Or any of the adjacent things. Not from querying novels or submitting short stories.

Just from the writing and editing.

Why am I taking a break?

And why just the writing and editing?

For starters, I like my social media followers and any missed week takes months to regain. I like having the satisfaction of an unbroken posting streak on my blog and vlog. And, most of the rest requires having an opinion, but not creating. Which is a lot less work, even if it is time-consuming.

Secondly, the writing and editing had turned into a drudge. Not in the “must-put-butt-in-seat to make it happen” sort of sense, but in the “I’m here because I blocked this time, but I’m really phoning it in.” And that’s not a mindset I need for quality work.

Thirdly, I struggle to focus on more than one personal project at a time. To be brutally honest, before I was writing, I hit the gym regularly. I lifted heavy weights. I was in the best shape of my life. I mean, in between binging World of Warcraft and Minecraft — I never wasn’t a geek. After years of working on the writing thing, though, compounded by a pandemic spent working from home, 3 steps from my kitchen, where I could easily take under 1,000 steps in a day… my fitness isn’t where I want it to be. So, I’m using my Oculus I got (myself) for “winning” NaNoWriMo to play Beat Saber, actually using the weights a friend gave me when their workout room became a nursery, and stopping with the snacking. Once my clothes start fitting again, it can be an activity and not a personal focus. But I’m not there, yet.

Finally? I fell behind on my 2021 goals. I’ve fallen behind before. But, there’s one thing I’ve learned — if I spend the next month playing catch-up, I just get further and further behind. Many of my goals are based on what I can do on a good, focused month.

You know what online quotes reminded me? If you give your best every day, it’s not your best. It’s your average.

And I can’t give my best every day.

When my writing starts to turn my everyday into this meme, that’s not sustainable.

Two identical, white forearms, in black suit jackets with white cuffs showing, shaking hands.

Hand on the left: Not writing because I'm stressed.
Hand on the right: Stressed because I'm not writing

Looking For Boredom

For now, I’m trying to catch up on my reading, my beta-reads, and my slush reading. The main convention I help with is at the end of May, so my time will be increasingly spent on activities for it. A couple family members close to me are having/had babies this year, so family visits are happening.

I am the type of person who can fill her free time with projects. House projects, gardening projects, computer projects. With reading. With endless phone games.

By taking an intentional break, I want to catch up on all the things I let pile up that aren’t writing related. I want to bask in my downtime until I start to wander around aimlessly, wondering what to do next, and not feeling like anything.

Then? When I go back to my writing, I’ll be refreshed and ready.


How often do you take a break from your writing? Have you ever needed to?

Yes, That IS a ‘Real Word’

I don’t always use my vocabulary to its greatest extent, but I’ve definitely been the that lady people have arched an eyebrow at when I used the right word, and they thought I was using a ten-cent word to sound superior. Sometimes, I just like to be precise.

I like words. I like knowing the connotations that distinguish different options in my thesaurus.

I’m what you might call an amateur etymologist — a person who studies words, their meanings, and the history behind them. I’m a huge fan of the website etymonline.com (just be sure not to confuse me with the bug-loving entomologists.)

For the whole of society, people have been continually creating new words, when the ones they had just wouldn’t do. We see it every day with new technologies and new slang. Tons of the so-called greats they teach you in English literature have done it. From Dickens, to Milton, to the ever-famous-for-it Shakespeare.

Now, I’m sure there are experts that will argue with me. And I know the French are quite particular about allowing new words into their language.

But, for me? If you use a word, and people can understand from the context what you intended, it’s a word.

Maybe they can tell because they recognize the root word that you’ve just verbified.

Maybe they can tell because because your actions demonstrated its meaning.

Science-fiction and fantasy writers often find themselves inventing dozens of terms for their magic or technological systems.

But, you don’t have to be in a make-believe world for a made up word to have meaning.

Language exists to convey a thought — a concept. If you’ve successfully conveyed your meaning, that’s all it takes for a word to be real. At least to me.


What’s your opinion on created words? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Can’t live without them?

Do you have any favorites?

9 Terms All Querying Authors Should Know

The road to traditional publication is a long one. Once you (and your beta-readers) have taken your novel as far as you can, it’s as polished as you can make it, and you’re ready to share it with the world, the next step is typically finding a literary agent with a process known as querying.

While these are the common definitions for these terms, they are not uniform across the board, and you may find people using these terms for different things.

For those who’ve never queried a novel, here are 9 terms you’ll probably encounter along the way.

1. Querying

What exactly is querying, is probably the first question you have in this process. I’ve talked about this extensively, but querying is the process by which you select an agent, compose a query letter, send it to the agent, and then wait for a response. Many agents ask for more than just a query letter. On the agency’s submissions page, they will describe what they want. A query package may include: X number of pages from your manuscript, a synopsis (1-3 pages), a pitch or logline, knowledge of the target audience, or more.

Originally, people would mail letters to the agencies. Some agents still accept mail, but most have moved to email or even electronic forms.

2. The Query Letter

In America, the query letter is typically 3-4 paragraphs, 2 describing the story’s main character’s stakes and goals, 1 with the manuscript’s stats and any comparison novels, and 1 with a short biography of any relevant information.

If the agency you’re looking at requests a cover letter, it’ll be similar to a query letter, but the story part of the letter will typically just be one to two sentences.

3. Comps

A ‘comp’ or ‘comparison novel’ is a novel that gives the agent a feel for what your manuscript is like. Traditional comps are typically less than 3 years old and in your genre, avoiding any wildly popular novels. (You don’t want to say you’ve got ‘The Next Hunger Games’ or something of that nature.) You can also use older comps with things such as “the court politics of BOOK A with the humor of BOOK B.”

4. Pitch or Logline

While pitches can be longer than a traditional logline, your pitch, or ‘elevator pitch’ is the 30-second version of your story, something pithy and tweetable. This is ineffably easier if you have something that is “high concept”. “She’s a war-hardened soldier, he’s a street-rat who’s made it big as a chef, together, they fight crime.” Or “Cinderella meets Pitch Perfect in a futuristic rags-to-riches battle of the choruses.”

5. High Concept vs Low Concept stories

High concept stories have easy to describe plots and those pithy pitches. Low concept stories are typically more character driven than plot focused, and harder to condense.

6. Slush Pile

Despite the name, a slush pile is neither a stack of slushie drinks, nor plowed snow piled by the side of the road. Any unsolicited query (or, in the short story world of magazines and anthologies — unsolicited submissions) is dubbed part of the ‘slush pile’. Agents have author clients that they are beholden to, and only a small percentage of their time is spent looking for more clients. Often getting dozens to hundreds of query letter submissions a week, the slush pile can easily get away from a busy agent. Reading these piles is sometimes even relegated to interns and agents-in-training.

7. Submissions

Submissions are when you send the full story to a publisher. If you’re looking to publish a short story, you’re going to be ‘submitting’ to them, not ‘querying’ them. When you have an agent , (or if you find a publisher that accepts unagented manuscripts), they’re submitting your manuscript to the publishing houses on your behalf.

8. SASE

In the old-school world of physically mailing your manuscript to agents, printing was also rather expensive. So, most authors who wanted the manuscript returned to them if the agent said ‘no’ would include a “self-addressed and stamped envelope” — a SASE for the agency to return the manuscript at no cost to the agency.

9. R&R

Sadly, in the querying process, this doesn’t usually mean “rest and relaxation.”

Some agents don’t say “no” or “yes” immediately. Some see potential in a story, but might email, asking for changes to be made, without offering representation, but asking to see the new version. These are known in the querying industry as “revise and resubmits” or – R&R. Some agents will give feedback without asking for a resubmission, so read carefully whenever you’re given advice. Standard practice is not to requery an agent with the same manuscript — unless it has undergone a massive overhaul. And, even then, it’s suggested to try different agents.


Are there any other terms you’ve run across when querying that those not in the trenches are unfamiliar with?

Let me know!

500 Blog Posts Later…

On April 22nd of 2015, the previously unheard of, Morgan Hazelwood, otherwise known as ‘me’, began blogging.

Nearly six years later, I’m still at it, and today, I’m celebrating my 500th blog post.

Thank you all for reading, for making sure I’m not shouting into the void. If you’ve been around for a while, you might know some of this, but for the rest of you, stay tuned to read about my blogging journey.

Why I Started Blogging

Back in 2015, I’d finished drafting my first full length manuscript. It wasn’t ready to be queried, or published at all. But, it was done.

And, one of the pieces of advice I kept seeing was to set up an author website. It didn’t need to be a blog, but social media platforms rise and fall, whereas a website is something that you maintain, you control, and is a way of putting your best face forward.

I’ve done web development professionally, but I knew I wanted my time at home to be spent focused on my writing, not on futzing with the backend of my website. WordPress, at the time, was free and had all the features I was interested in.

I looked at author websites and decided what I liked best.

I created an ‘about’ page, a ‘contact’ page… but then what? I didn’t want an empty website just aggrandizing myself. Of course, not being published, I didn’t have a page about where to buy my stuff.

So, I decided I’d write a few blog posts. Not regularly, of course not! My writing time was for my NOVELS, you see. But, I couldn’t just leave the site empty.

When I Caught the Blogging Bug

My first ‘real’ blogpost wasn’t until May 1st. I figured I’d post about my writing experience, the questions my friends and family had asked me. And then, May 26th, I decided to attend Balticon 49, the day before the local science-fiction and fantasy convention began. Luckily, my dad had already intended to go and offered up crash space, so all it cost me was some food and the price of a badge.

I’d attended conventions before, but now that I was a writer, I wanted to do research. Before May of 2015, I believe I’d attended maybe five panels in my life, despite attending in the ballpark of 20 conventions. Many as a child, a few as a college student. And I’d begun working as staff at a local anime convention. But, not actually attending anything.

That first year, I hit 17 panels, but wrote only eight blog posts about the year, covering 15 of the panels and workshops.

I kept up my near weekly blogging until that September, when my now-ex-husband and I separated and I started a new job. And then I moved. I still blogged at least once a month, mostly 2-3 times a month. And I have yet to miss a week since February 25th 2016. Every Thursday, like clockwork, you could find my blog posts.

A year later, I started turning my blog posts into vlog posts. As I’ve mentioned before, just because I *hate* email and would rather get my writing tips in a blog conglomerator, called an RSS feed, doesn’t mean I don’t understand that other ways work better for other people. And, if by recording my talking head and sharing the article in an auditory manner helped me reach more people, I was willing to add that time to my process…

Why I Keep Blogging

I can’t say that blogging never gets in the way of my writing. Because of the self-imposed deadline, I often — no. I DO prioritize the blog over my own fiction writing.

But why? You ask.

There are always a multitude of reasons someone does a thing. For me, let’s see…

  1. It’s a way to track — and to share my journey to becoming a published author (and hopefully, one day, beyond)
  2. It’s a way to review my panel notes and put them in a form that makes the take-aways obvious to me.
  3. It’s a way to share my panel notes to those who cannot or prefer not to attend writing panels (panels aren’t the best way for many people to absorb information)
  4. It’s a way to give back to the community — with query corners, author spotlights (well, maybe more effective once I become a famous author, but you’ve gotta start somewhere), writing tips, and writerly musings
  5. It keeps me focused on my own writing. When you talk about your writing every week, it’s hard to forget your dream. It stops me from deprioritizing it.
  6. Can I say, momentum? I hate breaking a streak! Once I’d gone 3 months without missing a Thursday, it became harder to tell myself to take a week off. If I’d managed to keep blogging when things were harder, what’s my excuse now? And, that’s carried over to my videos. Since I started Vlogging in 2017, I’ve never missed a week there.

Should You Start/Continue Blogging?

Note: if you write non-fiction — being an established expert and having a strong following is seen as a positive. For fiction writers, it can be a bonus, but it’s not required.

If you enjoy writing blog posts — or at least, find some satisfaction out of it, do it. Otherwise, you can skip it.

You don’t have to write essays. You can share pictures, quotes, whatever content makes you happy, as long as you keep a consistent tone/theme.

My Blogging Stats!

I’ve published 113 write-ups of convention panels and conventions themselves, 38 Query Corners, 66 Author Spotlights, 11 weeks in review. I’ve done 21 posts about the querying process. There have been 4 stories and 6 posts of my poetry, although I’m saving first publication rights for most of those, so you don’t see a lot. 39 musings that I called “essays”.

Only 3 guests posts. I’ve realized I don’t like having another voice on my page in ways not tightly controlled. I’ve posted 11 times about #PitchWars and 27 times about NaNoWriMo.

Confession: 20 of my 500 posts were just the reshare of the video version, before I started linking the vlog post IN the blog post.

My all time stats are: 42,399 views and 1,822 comments. My best day was 155 views.

But, I do promote my posts as “Writing Tips and Writerly Musings.” Hopefully, it will encourage you to learn that, including the convention panels, 244 blog posts, or nearly half of mine, have been specifically about the writing process.

I’m pretty sure that means I’m staying on topic.

My Most Popular Posts!

At 2,986 lifetime views, more than 8 times more popular than any other post is: 10 Questions To Ask Your Beta-Reader

Next up? So You’ve Decided To Write A Novel — Here Are 7 Tips To Get Started with 366 views.

Top 10 Tricks For Writing A Better Query Letter comes in third at 360 views.

Filling out the top 10 are:

I Can’t Read My Own Writing

The 5 Stages of a #PitchWars Hopeful

5 Big Things I’ve Learned About Editing

Agents and Editors Share — Pitches We’re Sick Of

Introduction to Hopepunk

“Coming of Age” versus YA

Morgan’s Complete Guide For Attending A Convention

My Future Plans

I do like to remind myself that the blog (and the vlog (and the podcast)), exist to support my writing and not the other way around. Although, my blog and the tips I share here have helped me get a couple speaking gigs, and I wouldn’t say no to more.

I’m not sure that I will continue to hit so many convention panels, though, because there’s only so many new panels or fresh takes out there. Plus, I’ve been pulled in to start working more conventions, so it’s harder to attend them.

But? I’d like to keep blogging for the foreseeable future.


Have you ever blogged or vlogged? Have you thought about it?

If you do, what do you like about it. If you don’t, or stopped, what’s stopping you from picking it back up?

When An Idea Breaks Your Manuscript – 4 Ways To Fix It

I am a huge fan of serendipity. That moment when you realize something about your world or your character or your setting that makes what you’ve been planning and your story all seem inevitable.

This post isn’t about that. This is about when you realize everything is wrong.

Sometimes, it’s a huge plot hole, when you realize what you had planned for isn’t going to work and you have to change it. Other times, you think of something better — to improve your characters, plot, or pacing. Or, if you’re pantsing, something might have come out of the blue and now you have to set it up properly.

There are of course, several approaches to this.

Why?

Because we’re writers. And none of us do the same thing the same way. Sometimes, we don’t even do it the same way twice ourselves.

So, without further ado, let’s talk about the four ways an author can handle an unexpected realization that ruins things they’ve already written.

1 – Ignore the Idea

Maybe you’re a planner and this was not in your outline. Therefore, you will ignore it and write the story as planned.

Perhaps, you’re a pantser and the idea will take far too much much effort to work in.

Sometimes, it’s a brilliant idea — but it’s not the story you wanted to tell.

In any case, if you don’t make the change, you don’t have to do the work. Just barrel ahead and leave things as is. (Assuming, of course, it’s not a gaping plot hole.)

Although… many writers have found, when they have an idea that strikes the right chord for their story, ignoring it will cause their story to actually fight them. Either the words stop coming, or that dang story idea keeps trying to work itself in at any opportunity.

2 – Make a Note, Then Ignore It

If you’re writing away, a big change like this could derail your momentum. Or, maybe you just hate switching between editing and writing modes? Either way, some people just make a note and keep writing.

Where do they make the note? Wherever makes sense to them. It could be in a notebook, a draft email to themselves, in the margins of a printed out page (if you print each chapter as it comes out or something), or, in the margins of the electronic document.

No matter where the note is made, the idea is that it will remind the writer of the edits to come, and they can move forward with the story.

But, without knowing how the details will be set up, it can be complicated to just start writing as if that note had been true for the entire story. Thus? Some writers will keep writing with the wrong details, so that when they come back to revise, all the changes can be made smoothly and congruently.

3 – Make a Note, Then Incorporate It

You’re still writing away, still not breaking your momentum. You’ve added a note, so you know where to edit up to. Now? All you have to do is make the change and move forward as though you’d always intended your world or character or what have to be that way.

Details are often less intrusive than one might fear. Fixing that detail and reviewing what you had before might re-energize your writing.

Or? It might bog you down. Some writers, once they start editing, need to fix everything. Thus, even if your goal is to get your rough draft finished, you might end up stuck in editing-hell, doomed to keep thinking of new things to fix and never moving forward on your manuscript.

Only you can know if you’ll be pulled into that trap.

4 – Rewrite the Whole Thing!

Sometimes, your idea is just so novel, so pivotal to the story, there is only one option if you want to see it play out properly. Throw out the entire manuscript (or, you know, save it to your drafts folder and open a new document. Never, ever, ever throw out a manuscript!) and start from the beginning again.

Feel free to steal, without reservations, lines, scenes, or chapters from the original, but make sure everything is reworked and made fresh.

Sure, it might be a lot of work, and some writers struggle with writing if they feel like they’ve already written this scene, but sometimes, it’s the only option.



Writing a manuscript is hard work. It takes time, effort, and creativity. Hopefully, with these four options, you can find yourself a gameplan next time your drafting runs off the rails


Let me know if there are any options I missed! Have you ever had to use one of these to get a manuscript back on track?