Write It Sideways

7 Lies You Tell Yourself About Writing


We might not like to admit it, but we’re all guilty of occasionally (or perhaps even frequently) lying to others and ourselves.

It could be withholding complete truth, glossing over little details, exaggerating, or simply being in denial. Whatever the case, there are plenty of times in life when we’re not honest with ourselves.

For some reason, we writers tend to be very good at telling ourselves lies.

Are you guilty of convincing yourself of these misconceptions and half-truths?

1. Tomorrow I’ll make up for the writing I missed today.

If you took part in NaNoWriMo, I’d be willing to bet you’ve recently told yourself this lie.

There was probably at least one day, if not more, where you set a quota of words to write. But, instead of writing them, something came up. Something got in your way. Instead of powering ahead and meeting your goal, you told yourself a little fib: “I’ll just make up for it tomorrow.”

And, in all fairness, perhaps you did make up for it the next day. The first time.

At some point, doubling up got too hard. You simply couldn’t do it anymore. So you gave up.

2. There are so many badly written books out there, mine is bound to get published.

Are you seriously out to write a badly written book?

Poor writing is in the eye of the beholder. If thousands of people are willing to buy a book (for whatever reason), then it’s still publishable. Remember: publishing is a business, not an awards ceremony for those who write well.

If you want to get published, you have to write something people will want to read.

3. I need to come up with a completely original idea for my book.

Sorry to tell you, but there are very few (if any) completely original ideas. In fact, if you’re writing about something that’s never been covered before, chances are good no one will want to read it.

Genres are based on what’s worked in the past. Literary books are based on character development. Mysteries are based on … well … mystery. Romances, on love. There are shared elements in these genres. None of their stories are completely original.

So quit trying to tell yourself you’ve got to come up with something no one’s seen before. It simply won’t happen, and it isn’t really meant to.

4. Good writing can’t be taught.

Why not?

Sure, it might be difficult to take someone with zero writing skills and turn them into the next Shakespeare, but the average person with some grasp of language can develop leaps and bounds through education.

This is because writing is not only art, but craft. There are skills involved. Research. Study. Those who are willing to put in the time and effort will most certainly improve their writing ability exponentially.

From average to good. From good to great.

5. Writing a book is my ticket to fame.

Go to your local library and search the shelves. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of books you’ll find will be completely unheard of–and not just by you.

Publishing a book is a tremendous accomplishment, but it won’t make you famous, in and of itself. In fact, there are even prolific authors you’ve never heard of.

If you’re writing for fame, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

6. I’ll never get published because I don’t have any contacts in the industry.

Having connections in the writing and publishing industry is only an advantage if you’re a good writer, and you’ve produced good writing.

You might have a full manuscript ready and polished, just waiting for the right set of eyes. But unless that manuscript is up to par with what those insiders are looking for, you don’t stand a chance.

You’re better off knowing no one and, instead, focusing all that energy into your writing.

7. I’ll start my book tomorrow.

I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t start writing something until you have mentally composted your ideas for a good amount of time, and you’ve decided whether they are viable.

That said, there’s a difference between outlining and spending time letting your ideas evolve, and simply putting off until tomorrow what you should be starting today.

Just remember, if you never start the book, you’ll never finish it. If you never finish it, you’ll never publish it. Simple as that.

Time to Get Honest

Which of these lies is holding you back from moving forward with your writing?

Instead, why not try swapping them for some affirmative thoughts?

Why not: