Author Myths and legends

December 19, 2017

I've got a friend at work who is doing her Masters of Creative Writing. I'll admit I'm jealous but I offered some advice that her thesis piece shouldn't be a novel that is her baby but rather a throw away idea. The whole thing behind that is that it doesn't have to be perfect. Your precious baby that you have been thinking about for a decade or more it is never going to see the light of day if it is the first thing you tackle. Instead take a alright idea and write that first. Which made me think of other myths people have on writing.

 

Myth 1: You have to be in the mood to write

This is also related to having a good idea to write. You can take any idea and it is your skill that makes it a good story or not. But back to being in the right frame of mind is a lie. My mother is an artist and she doesn't do art when it strikes her. She plans a project and she goes about it like it is a job. Yes, she takes breaks and lets her mind mull over it. I do the same. I plan a story, I write and take breaks and then go back to it. Writing isn't some magical process that your mind has to go into some mythical trance to achieve. It is writing, it is work like most creative processes. You can train yourself to write even when you aren't in the mood.

 

Myth 2: You have to have time to write

Humans waste a heck of a lot of time. I literally spend at least an hour each day on Facebook alone. Entertainment and other things easily chow up time during a day. If you have kids you know how they can also consume time as if it were made of sugar. With this day and age technology can go with you. I got myself a large tablet with a keyboard though I don't always need it and it is small enough to fit into my purse. That means when I'm waiting for takeaways I can whip out the tablet and write a bit. I find I wait for a lot of things. Instead of playing candy crush put word on your device and write instead. While you wait for your kids to come out of karate you can write. It is about finding the time and not letting things get in the way.

 

Myth 3: You have to write the Great American Novel

I've had arguments about this with others. I write pulp. I read pulp so of course I write pulp. There is nothing wrong with writing something that is light and fluffy and lets people read it in an afternoon. Yet everyone thinks to be a 'real' author you have to write 'real' fiction. We have this particular problem in Science Fiction where people are scared of any romance in the genre. But the thing is people think you have to be philosophic and deep with your novels. Sorry, all those books labelled like that are going to become fire starters in winter.

 

Myth 4: You have to be good to be an author

Sorry to tell you that there are some terrible authors out there who have raked in millions. Looking at you Fifty Shades. Or even decent writers who made rookie mistakes. JK Rowling I'm looking at you. After all I would never have used a line like, "Ron ejaculated loudly." I bet she regrets that line now as well. That really is a line in one of the Harry Potter books. When I like an author I go and read everything they have published. So that means I read their very first book. Usually it is their sixth or eighth because the rest were rejected so they aren't as bad as my first book. But man are they bad. I mean overused tropes and cringe worthy characters. I still love them. I read Restoree almost every year. Still love it. If you wait for your writing to be perfect you won't write anything.

 

Myth 5: You need a degree to be a good author

Okay, I'm not saying education is wrong but a formal education isn't the only way to learn how to write. After all I would do a Masters in Creative Writing in a heart beat but I can't afford it. What I could afford was years on critique sites like Fanstory and editors. I could afford beta readers and family members giving me feedback. I also love the internet. There are so many free courses and the like on it. I do have a degree in English but I can tell you it did nothing to make me a better writer. Even before I did my degree I would look at texts critically and try to figure out what made books work. I started doing that because I was tired of starting to read and never finishing bad books so I looked for what I liked and found other novels just like them. I can tell you I read a lot. I'm talking about 300 books a year. So by the time I started writing my first novel I had read well over 2000 books. That was my education.

 

Myth 6: You have to hand write your novel or at least use an old school type writer

I've come across these people who think you have to approach the art with old fashioned tools. Digital art is no less beautiful than an oil painting. What you write your novel on is your choice. I grew up in the age where computers were starting out. My first stories are written on paper but when I was about fourteen as I was typing up my handwritten work I realised that if I truly wanted to be an author I would have to teach myself to be creative on a computer. It was difficult to retrain my mind to type instead of write. It was possible. Those who say you have to be old school only say that because they are too set in their ways or too lazy to learn a new way.

 

Myth 7: Write what you know

I heard this from my teacher when I handed in a fantasy for a short story assignment. I should tell you I'm terrible at flash fiction and in High School all you write is flash fiction. The only thing that I do to write 'what I know' is to always have a female protagonist. Everything else is something completely made up. My life is boring why should I write boring stuff. If people wrote what they know then Barabara Cartland should never have been famous. Did you know she broke off her first engagement because she found out about sex. And yet Barabara still holds the record for the most novels published in a year. She is a queen of romance. So write your dreams instead.

 

I'm sure there are other myths out there about writing. But one thing I want you to know as a fledgling author. Just write.

 

 

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