7 Persistent Writing Myths

Writing MythsWhen people ask what I do for a living, I often get responses like, “Wow. I could never be a writer; I can’t spell worth a hoot.” Rather than launching into a rebuttal, I usually just shake my head and say, “that’s too bad.”

The truth is that most writers do not spell extraordinarily well, do not type at super-human speeds, and certainly do not have impeccable penmanship. It turns out there are more myths about writing that, at the very least, create problems for would-be writers. Here are seven persistent writing myths:

Writing Myths #1: The ability to write is a talent you’re born with.

Reality: While it may be true that some people are born with an innate ability to tell stories, practice is king. Even the most successful and “gifted” writers have had to practice their craft.

Writing Myths #2: Only professional writers need to know how to write.

Reality: Every discipline and nearly every career requires some writing skill. Good writing can be just as important to a salesman, a dentist, or a police officer as it is to a writer.

Writing Myths #3: Don’t try to write until you’re hit with inspiration.

Questions about Writing MythsReality: Inspiration often flows better through moving fingers. When I’m faced with a deadline and have no idea what topic to write about, I will frequently start typing random words. Before long, thin threads of ideas weave themselves into topics.

Writing Myths #4: Paper books are a thing of the past.  

Reality: Just because Amazon has announced that its eBooks are outselling its paper books doesn’t mean the rest of the world is that way. Figures for 2012 show eBooks accounted for only 11% of the book market. Amazon sells an eReader platform (Kindle), consequently you would expect its market to be skewed toward eBook buyers. (Bowker Market Research)

Writing Myths #5: Writers are all wealthy and financially independent.

Reality: Most professional writers have other jobs while they write “on the side.”

Writing Myths #6: Real writers find writing easy.

Reality: Writing never gets easier; it only gets faster. The best writers feel like they’ve turned themselves inside-out and are still willing to come back the next day and do it all over again.

Writing Myths #7: If I write well, it will be a smash hit.

Reality: The world is full of brilliantly written books that never saw the light of day. It is an uncomfortable fact that marketing is an integral component of any book’s success, and it is a great deal of work.

Copyright 2014, Charles J. Chamberlain

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