There are many myths surrounding writing, many that simply provide reasons not to start. Using a series of analogies, I dispel six common myths to help you get your pen moving.
Myth 1: The path
I often hear writing described as a path but there is no set route or destination. Writing is not a path but an open landscape that is entirely yours, limited only by your imagination. Experiment with mediums and styles. Write horror poetry and poetic prose. Mix it up.
Myth 2: The sprint
Some writers scramble to develop their novels, others hurry in order to publish too soon. But, writing is not a race. You don’t need to sprint. Give your writing the time it deserves.
Don’t try to make your ideas fit with current trends either. By the time you’re done, those trends will have already passed. Write according to your truth and whatever stands at the core of your work. Let it be what it needs to be.
Myth 3: Authorship
Authorship is not the same as being a writer. It is a concept, one that is consequential to, and will always be preceded by, the act of writing. A writer is something you can be today so don’t feel as though you need to compromise or follow any one format or publishing route.
Focus on being a writer first and worry about the rest later.
Myth 4: Loneliness
Writers may live a life with more solitary moments but at the heart of all stories are people. Our understanding of people can rarely be imagined. It comes from living. Connect with others as though your writing depends on it. Speak to the world and, in recompense, your mind is likely to be filled with great stories and unimaginable voices.
However, you don’t need decades of experiences or to travel extensively to find substance worthy of the page. Let the world be your etch-a-sketch.
Myth 5: Perfection
If, at first, you’re afraid your writing is clumsy, you’re not alone.
The first draft is an attic, the published novel an armoire. An attic may be pieced together with life’s baggage and flimsy joinery. An armoire is a managed affair, its contents decluttered and tidied using drawers, shelves and hanging rods.
Accept that your first draft, like an attic, will be a mess. By the time you have a publishable piece, your armoire, your writing will have gone through numerous edits. Don’t let perfection get in the way. Work through a list of priorities with each draft:
- The big problems and the craters.
- The small problems and the holes.
- The characters, the tone and the flow.
Don’t be intimidated when you read the work of other writers either. They shouldn’t be the standard but rather inspiration. Your writing will always be unique to you.
Myth 6: Writer’s block
Writer’s block is the villain-made-large. It has gained notoriety because of the sheer volume of writers who have encountered it down literary alleys.
Block, however, is nothing more than a fear of writing badly. So, allow yourself to write, even when the pages are immemorable and lacking. Write the things that keep you awake. Live among people. And know that any route will do so long as you’re moving forward.