“Oh, I could never do that. I’m not creative enough.”
I hear this one a lot, and it makes me sad.
Yeah, maybe you’re not “good enough” to become a New York Times bestseller. Maybe you’ll never get published. But writing doesn’t have to be about those things. You can just write for yourself. If you have something you want to write, be it an epic fantasy novel or a short fanfiction, do it. You don’t have to be the next Shakespeare or John Green or [insert idol here]. You don’t have to write for anyone but yourself. If it makes you happy, that’s all you need.
And most of the time, you’ll find out that you’re a lot more creative than you thought.
“Write (only) what you know.”
“Write what you know” is a pretty common piece of advice. But a lot of the time, it gets spun into “write only what you know”. And this debilitated me for a while—I had a story I wanted to write but kept putting off because I’ve never been in love like I wanted my characters to be. I didn’t want to write x because I’ve never been through it. Eventually, that turned into “oh, I can’t write this novel well because I’ve never had a sibling die and I’ve never fought with a sword”, or “this novel is crap because I can’t make it authentic”. Focus on shared feelings. For that character whose brother died, I focused on someone I idolized and how I would feel if they died (and for the sword stuff, I did a lot of research). I’ve never been in love, but I’ve read a lot of books and seen a lot of movies where the characters have been, and for now, I can extrapolate okay.
“You can’t consider yourself a true writer until you’re published.”
First off, to the person who says this: please duct tape your own mouth shut.
This is probably one of the single most harmful pieces of writerly advice out there because it creates an arbitrary and often hard-to-reach goal. Traditional publishing is increasingly becoming a bad mark of a writer’s worth. Some good stories get published, and some don’t. Some less good ones get published in their place. That’s just how it works. Publishing is fickle and often requires a certain quantity of luck and/or fame in order to work in your favor. That’s just how it is. You’re still a writer even if you’ve never published anything. Not having success in traditional (or non-traditional) methods doesn’t mean you’ve failed or that your novel is worthless. Try again. Write something new. You can only get better.
Writing can be a scary thing, but this shouldn’t be one of the things that holds you back.
“Nothing will ever come out of this.”
Look, like I said before, traditional publishing is finicky. It relies on a long chain of events going your way, a fair amount of luck, and often, simply the right people looking at your manuscript at the right time. But just because this may not go in your favor doesn’t mean that things won’t turn out right in the end. And even if you don’t get that book deal, you’ll learn a lot from the process. Your next book will be better, and so will the one after that. And maybe that one will be the one that gets the big book deal.
What lies have you been told about writing?