Friday, July 21, 2017

12 Writing Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Writers are an odd group of people who have odd ideas about the writing life. We only write if we have a cup of coffee in that black mug with the chip in it, but claim not to be superstitious. We believe it's important to be open-minded, but some of us are willing to go to war over whether or not ebooks are the end of the reading community. We claim to love being writers, but spend a large portion of our time avoiding writing like Superman avoids kryptonite.

No, we're not crazy. We're just steeped in a writing world that clings to writing myths without even knowing it. And, as fun as it can be, it also causes a lot of problems.

So, today, I'm here to dispel several writing myths. You may not like it, but it's time to unlearn what you have learned.
Hannah Heath: 12 Writing Myths You Need to Stop Believing
1. You need to be "inspired" to write. Pffft. Please. Do you know how much I felt like writing this post today? I didn't. But I knew I needed a post for this Friday and this topic was one of ten topics I have on my whiteboard. So I chose it at random and here I am, even though I'm a bit stressed and not at all inspired. Why? Because writing is important to me. I have set times each week that I write whether I feel like it or not. And you know what? My writing isn't a complete disaster. In fact, there are days I consider it to be very passable. So if I can write with zero inspiration at the drop of a hat, then so can you. Writing is serious business. Being an author is a job. Treat it like one.

2. Writing is a secluded activity. Do you have any idea how much networking it takes to become a published author these days? You need to be on social media to sell your books. You need an email list. Blogs are super helpful, as are writing conventions. You need to be willing to hand business cards to complete strangers without having a heart attack. Writing is not just an excuse to be a hermit.

3. Writing is just a hobby. No, bro. No. Just because you enjoy something or are passionate about it doesn't make it a hobby. Hobbies don't require dedication. Hobbies don't make money. Writing is a job.

4. You aren't a "real" writer until you've published something. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If you write something down but nobody else has read it, are you actually a writer? Yes and yes. There's no such thing as an "aspiring writer." Can you put letters on paper to form words? Do you do it? Then you are a writer. Own it.

5. You need a bunch of fancy tools. Scrivner. Digital whiteboards. Word count apps. Are these helpful? Maybe. Do you need them? No. How do you think Hemingway wrote his books? He didn't do it using the Hemingway app, I can tell you that. You really don't need anything other than a computer or paper and pen to write. I'm not saying you can't use them. Do what works for you. But don't for one moment believe that you can't write without them.

6. Writing comes naturally. Heh. That's cute. Writing isn't easy. There are day when we writers forget how to spell or don't use proper sentence structure. There are days we can't for the life of us write anything that doesn't make us feel like crying, then burning it. Good writing takes work and practice.

7. Writers are crazy, sleep-deprived, and addicted to caffeine. Writers are not crazy. In fact, the argument could be made that we're not even the weird ones. And, as mentioned before, writing is a true job and, as such, does not benefit from lack of sleep or being addicted to anything. Don't go ruining your health so you can look like a "real" writer.

8. You need to "know" something before you can write about it. I wrote an entire post about why this isn't true.

9. You need to be any English major. Uh. No. You really don't. I'm not saying an English major is a bad idea. If that is what's calling you, go for it. However, if you want to be an author but don't want to major in English or anything along those lines, that's fine too.

10. Your characters and book are in control. While writers like to joke about "Oh no, my character ran off in the wrong direction," it is in no way true that you don't have the power to grab them by the ear and put them back on the right path. You created this book and these characters. You da boss.

11. Social media isn't necessary. Dude. How do you plan on marketing your book? By going door-to-door? You really didn't think this through. If you need help, read this post.

12. You'll never make it in the writing world. Don't listen to this one! You can make it. How? Dream hard. Work harder. Never give up. Never surrender.

These are just 12 of many writing myths that you really, really shouldn't be believing. Which is your favorite? What are some good ones that you don't see mentioned? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Related articles:
10 Things Nobody Tells You About Being A Writer (Until It's Too Late)
Inside the Creative's Mind: 9 Things You Should Know
5 Steps to Fighting Off Writer's Insecurity

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  1. This is awesome. Sometimes, writers need reminders about the way things really are and need someone to pull us out of our own heads! (If that doesn't sound too weird. :-) ) I was talking with my brother the other day about how the digital age has changed book marketing, that you need a blog to start building a fan base (as it were) before you ever publish.
    About the "writing is a secluded activity" point...I agree with your argument, but I'd like to add that in a different sense, it IS a secluded activity. Cause it's often a bad idea to show others your first draft (though there are exceptions; my siblings and friends DO show me their drafts because they're just starting out, and they need feedback and encouragement, which I'm happy to give!) and because it will take time to find a writing community or even a senior writer who can help you out. Also, you're the one doing most of the work, and it would be lazy to ignore plot holes and bad dialogue and expect an editor to be your safety net there.
    And I wish more non-writers understood #4...
    Great post! I love your witty but no-nonsense blogging style!

    1. Great comment, Christine! I agree that writing can be a secluded activity, too. I especially liked your point about ignoring plot holes and bad dialogue and expecting other people to catch them for you. Never a good plan. =D

      I guess a good way to word it is: "Writing is a secluded activity. Being a write is not." Because the act of sitting down and writing is largely done alone, whereas the marketing, editing, etc requires things to get a bit more public.

      So glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. YESSS. Love your posts, Hannah! XD

  3. While writers like to joke about "Oh no, my character ran off in the wrong direction," it is in no way true that you don't have the power to grab them by the ear and put them back on the right path.

    Much easier said than done, that. :)

    Although, of course, there is a rational explanation to all this running off in wrong direction stuff. Unlike real life, fiction has to make sense. :) So when you start writing and unwrapping your world, going from general view to detailed, sometimes it leads to things you didn't anticipate when first planning.

    But the theory of characters having their free will sounds much more interesting than this boring explanation, imo. :)

    1. That would be weirdly awesome, in a creepy way. My characters sure do *seem* alive at times... XD

    2. I think the "boring" explanation is fascinating, though. We're so in sync with our stories that we don't have to consciously think about what the characters would do next!
      Though we do need to remember to rein in our subconscious and tell it who's in charge sometimes.

    3. I love this comment thread. =D I like to think that yes, stories absolutely can take on a life of their own...But only after you do a lot of the work. And, because you breathed life into it in the first place, you have the power to redirect it if it goes off in a direction that will ruin the story. =D

      Seventh Magpie, I liked your point about how a detailed story can lead to things going differently than planned. That's so true! It's how you know you've created something good and true.

  4. Love this!! I agree with every word. (The Hemingway app, LOL.) 😂

    1. Haha! Thanks. I always wonder what Hemingway would say if he could see the app named after him. =D

  5. This is a great post! I recently did my own post about some writerly doubts I've had in the past, (and still have!) Thanks for sharing these bits of encouragement!! :)

  6. I really did enjoy and can relate those perspectives in your post on the 12 writing myths.

  7. Pen and paper, or keyboard and screen?

  8. Love number 10. I'm always thinking, what do you mean your characters are in control? Are they ghosts or something? Makes no sense to me. Love how you said grab them by the ear and drag them back into line.
    Awesome debunking of myths!

  9. this post made me confident about myself and my writing. i really liked and my favorite is the 4th one. i write fan fictions but never thought myself as a writer but now i think so thank you!

  10. I'm really so glad I saw this. I am only fifteen but writing has called to me my whole life and with high school it seemed to quiet, just a little. This made me remember how important it is to stay set on my goals, so thank you! You make me want to write again!


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