Author Myths: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

The writer’s life is surrounded by myths, both inside and out. ‘Oh, you are a writer? You must be rich?’ ‘A writer? Are you a starving artist? I didn’t think you could make any money that way.’ ‘Just write a book and put it out there, it will take off.’

So…yes. Lots of myths. So I decided to collect a few; some from Facebook, some from articles I’ve read, some from things I’ve heard or heard of so much that they are now stuck in my head.

Myths on the Inside:

That you have to write every day to be a writer. Ok, so there is truth that you need to write to be a writer, and you need to keep writing and not just write every two months as the inspiration seizes you. But it is also fine to take occasional breaks and not write every day.

You don’t need an editor, editing yourself is fine. I tried this. Nope, not really fine. Though I’m an awful editor myself. I think even editors send off their work to others for correction.

There is no need to worry about grammar and punctuation. The publisher will assign an editor-minion to take care of it for you. Just dash off your book, and relax and enjoy your six-figure advance. Insane laughing. I wish, but no. Just not happening.

Just write you book, put it ‘out there’ and readers will come flocking to buy it. Sadly, no. For readers to love our book, they need to know about it. They aren’t going to come searching for something they don’t know exists.

Myths on the Outside:

That writing is easy because it isn’t a real job. Excuse me. Does your job fill your mind day in and day out, and take up all your free time? Do you know how hard writing is, both emotionally and physical (I mean, really, who has time for sleep?). Also, don’t you dare count my success by how much money I make. Success is about so much more.

While writing, you are unemployed and available for major tasks/projects. *chokes* Yes, I am writing. No, that does not mean I am free. Writing and free are like opposite ends of the spectrum…

People are self-published because no traditional publishing house would consider it. Hardly. Traditional publishing houses can only publish so much, after all. And did it ever cross your mind that maybe we wanted to be in control of everything ourselves?

Self-publishers shouldn’t charge money for their books – they should be grateful if anyone deigns to read them at all, so they should always give them away. The only reason I will not blast anyone who dares think or say this to ashes is because is because you are so ignorant about what goes into writing that I don’t even know where to start.

When you publish that book, you’ll make tons of money. Also, you won’t make any money at all. Marketing. Email lists. Followings… You could make lots of money, or you could make a little, or you could make a middling amount. There isn’t one catch-all figure.

Because you are a writer, you know how to spell every word under the sun as well as all the rules of grammar. Please, I am horrible at both. Sometimes even spellcheck doesn’t know what I’m looking for.

It is assumed you can pull plots or character out of thin air for a friend (or younger sibling). It’s really not that easy. You want to be a writer? Figure it out yourself. I’ve more plots than I know what to do with right now.

Of course, you want to read and critique anything a friend (or stranger) offers you. There is this thing called time, you know. I don’t have enough of it for my own work. And, unless I offer, I probably don’t have any to spare for reading everything else under the sun.

I’ve come to the conclusion that writers, like many kinds of artist, will always be misunderstood. Not by everyone. I have some very supportive family members. I also have one who doesn’t quite get it. But that is fine. That doesn’t make those who don’t understand stupid, even if we might want to shake them sometimes. One day they might understand. Or not. But it is something we will face, and it is something we’ll have to live with.

So learn to laugh at it. Laughter can make about anything better. Besides, quite often what a nonwriter thinks about a writer can be funny. Don’t worry about what others think. As writers, we need to have a strong confidence in what we do and why we do it, then accept encouragement, ignore discouragement, and keep on writing!

Do you have any writing myths to share? Either something you’ve learned or something someone has said to you? Comment below!

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13 Comments

  1. “You’re the author, so you get to decide what happens to a character, i.e. who they marry.” This can be true in some cases, but I’ve found that in most matters of the heart, the characters themselves choose–provided I’ve done my job as an author well enough to where they are real, living beings (of sorts) with their own free will. And sometimes I find the demands of a story take it where I didn’t plan or want it to go. So while I am the author, I’m not a dictator…something non-authors don’t always understand. 🙂

  2. Yessss… all the stuff. XD Especially this one: ‘That writing is easy because it isn’t a real job.’
    Just… no. For a dedicated writer, writing is literally the lens through which they see life.
    Another one: ‘Since it’s your story you should be able to produce a concise and exciting summary on demand’.
    Ha.
    Ha.
    Ha.
    *chokes* Maybe some authors? But NOT. ME.

    • A concise summary on demand? *chokes* ‘It’s, umm, and epic fantasy where they have to save the kingdom sort of a deal…’ Ok, so I do (or did) try to prepare ‘elevator pitches’ but those take quite a bit of work too. They are hardly on demand.

      As for writing being easy… Uggg. Ease is not the reason we choose this kind of life. 😉

      • Hey, your pitch is better than mine! Someone asked me about it recently and I spent the first few seconds sputtering, then I managed to squeak out something about allegorical fantasy, but it was technically more like a drama, because it WAS fantasy, but if you had to call it something based on the tone of the story it was more like drama… but it WAS fantasy. I didn’t manage to tell her anything about the story. 😛 It was… quite embarrassing.
        *sigh* I need to work on it… XD

  3. Pingback: Author Myths: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear – All About Writing and more

  4. Pingback: Author Myths: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear — Writing in the Light | Arrowhead Freelance and Publishing

  5. Great post, I totally get all this, at least Our family is supportive, and both my sister and I and our closest friend is a writer so we all get it, and help each other out, which is great.

  6. Another one that I’ve encountered is meeting people who automatically think they’re doing me a favor by pitching me a random story idea that I didn’t ask for in the first place. They think it is completely fresh and ‘never been seen before’– every time I keep thinking ‘don’t flatter yourself.’

  7. Hi Hope Ann! Per your earlier permission, I scheduled this article to be featured as a guest post on http://www.ryanlanz.com on March 30th. As usual, it has your credit/bio/link. Thanks!

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