The Truth about Writing
There are so many rules about writing, about what’s right and what’s not. It truly can be overwhelming and make you feel like you must not be a writer because you don’t want to follow the rules, the how to’s, the ways that other authors write books…
Writing is not a one size fits all. Each of us will adopt a different way of writing that suits us and that’s the way it should be. We need to find our own voice, our own style, and our own way of doing it. It took me a while to understand that it was okay to step outside the lines and do things my way. Over the years, I have been told and taught many things about writing, what’s right and what’s wrong. What I discovered is that many of these ‘rules’ actually hampered my writing, when I realized this it truly changed a lot for me.
So I thought I’d share some of the things I was told that were a must if I wanted to be a real writer but they are truly MYTHS.
1. Write your book in order
I used to try and do this but discovered that actually kept me from writing. I now use Scrivener which lends itself beautifully to my way of writing. I can write a chapter anywhere in my book. And I can later rearrange them when I figure out what will make the book much better.
2. Outline your book before starting
I truly have tried to do this but it doesn’t work for me. I’m a panster. Simply put, it means when I get an idea, I play with it, and then sit down and write. I do not do an outline before I start writing, and it doesn’t matter whether I am writing fiction or nonfiction. I just don’t. In fact, I don’t do an outline at all, not before I start and not after I get writing. I do kind of a mindmap thing that I guess could be considered a sort of outline. But usually I do this when I am 3/4’s the way through and want to see a visual of where I’m at with my book. Sorry, but doing a formal outline just doesn’t work for me. I’ve tried to but it just keeps me stuck.
3. Know the ending before you start
It’s funny, because for some of my books I have a good idea where I want them to end before I’ve even figured out the story but for most of my writing, I don’t have a clue where the story is going until I write it. The story unfolds as I put the words on paper and then I’ll figure out the ending. Or I’ll write the ending and figure out the story.
4. Write every day
Writing every day is a great idea, if you can fit it into your schedule. If you can only write 15 minutes a week, then that’s perfect. Even the pro authors/writers don’t write 365 days a year. Yes, writing a lot will help to make you a better writer but it is not the only answer. Try different styles, take courses, and learn from others can also help you get better as a writer.
5. Read, it will make you a better writer
Reading is amazing and a great way to escape but you can actually use it to make you a better writer. Okay, I know I said this is a myth and to some extent it is. If you read just to escape, then it will not improve your writing but if you read and you analyze what the author has done that you like or didn’t like, then it can can help you understand writing very differently. I talk about how reading can make you a better writer, Why reading is key to writing.
6. Don’t read, you might take on the other author’s traits
The only thing you have to know here is DO NOT PLAGERIZE. Other than that, yes read to learn. See above point.
7. Wait for inspiration before writing, don’t push it
You might never get started. Go out and find it, if not literally then figuratively. A game that I love to play is, what if… It is a great way to get your imagination fired up and get ideas and inspiration flowing.
8. Good writers have a natural talent, they are born that way
Yeah… no. Good writers are good and make it look like they are born that way but believe me they have moments of great writing, moments of meh writing and moments of pure crap.
9. Can only use 1 – 2 POV (points of view) in your story
The key with this one is that yes, only use one POV at a time in a chapter or section of a chapter. If you are going to change the point of view, be sure there is a chapter break and or a new chapter. You do not want to be bopping back and forth between your characters. You can use several POV’s in your story, you just have to make sure that their role adds to the story.
10. Real writers get it right the first time
Not true. I think this is what actually stops a lot of people from writing. They pick up a finished book and think wow, this is good. But the misperception is that it was done in one sitting. I guarantee you it wasn’t. Writers will do a fair bit of writing, rewriting and hair-pulling, not necessarily in that order.
The truth is that writing is a process and each person who writes needs to figure out what works for him or her. Definitely learn from other authors and writers who have made it – what do they do well, what do you like about their style, what don’t you like… Also test out a few things with your writing, see what works for you and what doesn’t.
The key is to get writing. How you get your book written really doesn’t matter. Once you have it written then you can rewrite it to the book you want. And you can fix all the grammar and punctuation and layout…
You are already a writer, you just might need to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
Write, how you do it doesn’t matter
“What writing myths have you been told?”