I think it’s time to tackle some of the myths that surround the concept of being or becoming a writer. There are quite a few misconceptions as to what it takes and how to get there.
So let’s begin our list with tackling that old question of whether or not writers are born with the talent to write, or do they really have to spend years learning/practicing the craft.
1. I WISH I COULD WRITE, I DONT HAVE THE TALENT.
That’s such a complicated and strange thing to say, right?
Firstly, anyone can write. A five year old can write. So the first part of that sentence makes little sense, therefore writing is just a matter of sitting down and doing it.
What the above statement is actually saying:
“I would like to write well but I’m not talented enough.”
This is a very self-defeating way of thinking. Purely if you feel you aren’t talented to write well, then the easiest answer is to practice until you do.
Some people appear to think that a talent in writing is when someone puts pen to paper and instantaneously produces wonderful prose.
This is simply not true in 99.9999 cases….
Each and every one of us has a voice that is unique. Sometimes a “voice” makes an impact in the literary world. Usually that author’s book or story is so great because they have honed their skills through years of passion-led practice. (Plus found a good editor.)
They may have a ‘way with words’ that makes their syntax taste as sweet as honey to the literary palate, but it’s a rare, rare thing to be a super-talented writer without any kind of writing practice at all.
2. I SHOULD WRITE ABOUT WHAT I ALREADY KNOW.
Another totally silly mind-boggling myth!
Write about what you WANT.
Write about what EXCITES you.
What makes you feel a tickle in your tummy when you read books?
If we all wrote about only what we know, we’d run out of source material in no time.
Yes, it’s true that some people have certain skills that lend themselves well to a genre. A former police officer may excel in the crime category. Or a person who loves gardening can offer a tasteful and clever description of their antagonist’s garden flora.
The more you know about a certain subject the more useful and easier it becomes to write about it.
However, don’t assume not knowing about something is a good enough reason to stop you from doing it.
It took me a year of research to be confident enough to publish a book set in the past. Mostly because I wanted to make sure my details were as factually correct as I could possibly get them.
Did I feel the whole time spent learning was a waste of time?
No. In actual fact, I found that my knowledge and research extended to three more books, so that can’t have been a bad thing can it?
3. I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WRITE FOR HOURS EVERYDAY.
Most of us spend our lives rushing about like mad hatters. School, kids, work, appointments, shopping, cleaning.. the list goes on.
But do we MAKE TIME for the things we love to do?
Yes, we might complain about a lack of time, but we know all about what happens on Neighbours each week. And there is plenty of time for sitting in the garden or having a barbecue with friends.
Time is what you are given and it is free. You choose how you fill it.
If you really really really want to see a book title with your name on it… you will definitely make time.
4. I CAN’T WRITE A BESTSELLER.
The word “bestseller” is an over-used word. And in many cases wrongly used.
No-one writes a best-seller. A best-seller is something that happens after an author hits a real milestone with an advantage in sales. That can take years and years…
Not only that, marketing companies love to use it in their headlines.
“You can write a bestseller in 30 days.”
If we all knew that to be true we would ALL be bestselling authors.
It is also true that you can have a bestseller of a book because it hit No 1 on a vague, vague category in Amazon by selling maybe er… 4 books?
Because you’re book about strange gothic nuns dancing in rubber wellies hasn’t really got a lot to compete with in that category.
Anyway, I digress..
Think about writing a book you LOVE instead. Isn’t that more satisfying?
And last but not least…
5. MY GRAMMAR ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH!
Neither is Donald Trump’s, but where is he now?
Grammar is important, but more importantly.. I feel.. is the whole picture you are putting out there as an author. The essence, tone, value and quality of your work is weighed as a whole.
For the grammar part, a spellcheck and an editorial comb-over by someone a bit more word-savvy can do wonders. (Plus did you know that plain English is pretty much the trend today, even by most traditional Editors preferences.)
It’s also true that practice really helps you improve, as does reading a lot of books in various genres.
Don’t be afraid to express yourself because grammar isn’t your strongest point.
You could have a fantastic story inside you that just needs a bit of help to bring out.
I hope these tips bring about a little more confidence.
Carla is a successful historical fiction writer and workshop leader. When her fingers aren’t tapping on piano keys, she’s relentlessly guiding ambitious new writers to the finish line with heaps of inspiring advice and motivational techniques.