Writing and publishing is a field fraught with false beliefs, half truths and outright lies that are accepted as reality. Usually those that know the least are the most vocal. One of the worst myths is that writing is easy and anyone can do it. It’s not. Writing is hard work and takes years to master. Here are a few other myths about writing debunked.
- To succeed as a writer you must be really, really good.
Not true. You just have to be professional and competent. There are plenty of mediocre writers making a great living.
- Writers are born not made.
Not true. I know of no baby writers. Writing requires much reading and plenty of life experience.
- Almost no one can make a living at just writing.
Not true. There are plenty of writers (often writing in a genre) who do very well financially. If you insist on only writing literary fiction, consider also teaching.
- The best selling genre is mystery.
It’s actually romance.
- To be successful as a writer you need a lot of luck.
Maybe. But I notice writers that are the most successful are usually also the most prolific.
- In order to write a novel, you need a great idea.
Not true. There is nothing new under the sun, it’s just the approach, handling, viewpoint and style that varies. What may seem like a very old idea in the right hands can be gold.
- Ideas are hard to get.
Not true. This is one of the most oft repeated myths. In fact, ideas are everywhere. An overheard conversation, a place, an object, an event, these are just a few of the many ways to find ideas.
- It’s good to show your writing to friends and family.
Not true. It’s a lousy idea. Only show your work to a professional writer or editor. No one else is qualified to know anything about writing.
- In order to write you must have lots of free time.
Not true. Many people write on their way to work, at night, on weekends, or during vacations.
- Imitating another writer’s style is a bad way to learn to write.
Not true. Many excellent writers began by imitating a writer they admired and then eventually found their own voice and style.
The above list contains only a fraction of the many myths about writing. Here’s one more: If you can write an email you can write a short story or novel. This is ridiculous. An email, whether personal or business, has nothing to do with dramatic structure, character, conflict, action or resolution. An email is a letter, not a story. If you can add, subtract and multiply, that does not make you an astrophysicist. I hope none of this is in any way discouraging. If you want to write… write! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. As Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And that’s not a myth.