As I said in my book Permission to Write, there are myths and there are realities. It’s about the difference between how you’d like it to be and how it really is.
What exactly is a myth? It’s a story that may or may not have a basis in reality―a widely held belief that is largely unfounded or false.
In the twenty-first century, when it seems like everyone is writing a book (and publishing it), there are so many myths about writing and publishing that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for any serious writer to know what to believe. Over my 30-plus years of writing, I’ve learned more than a few realities. And what I have learned is that continuing to believe the myths eventually becomes an obstacle for anyone who aspires to write and publish successfully.
Do you know what’s real and what’s a myth in this world of writing and publishing?
I’m not sure where all of the myths about writing and the writing life come from; I only know that new writers seem to have a lot of unfounded beliefs. Here are five tips for busing those myths.
The myths you need to bust now summarized:
- Talent is over rated. Anyone can be a successful writer. The sad truth is that although talent is not enough, it is necessary for success. And this is true of any field. Talent can be cultivated.
- No one cares about grammar. I beg to differ. Everyone cares about grammar; it’s just that some of them don’t know about it. Get out the grammar book.
- I write better than most people. Can you hear me laughing? As American writing guru William Zinsser says, “Most people have no idea how badly they write.” And if you don’t know who he is, stop reading and go immediately to Amazon and order his book On Writing Well. Then read it.
- Thousands of Instagram and Twitter followers guarantee success. Now I’m grinding my teeth. If would-be writers spent as much time practicing their writing and having it edited by someone who knows what he or she is doing rather than amassing thousands of Twitter followers, success would be more likely.
- My friends think my idea is great, so everyone else will, too. I just have one question for you: how did you get friends with such deep knowledge (backed up by data) about how your target readers will think at any given time? The rest of us would love to know.
You might also have other unfounded beliefs about writing success, but these are the ones I see demonstrated most often.
Get over these ones, and you’ll be able to move ahead with a clear view of the future.