It’s a huge high when you first decide to take the plunge and devote yourself to writing…but like all highs, eventually you will come down. Sadly, it’s quite common for aspiring writers to fall into deep depressions, and begin believing things that simply aren’t true. This post seeks to dispel five of these erroneous beliefs that you may have:
1. I will never improve as a writer.
Have you heard of a man by the name of Malcolm Gladwell? How about a little obscure band from the U.K. called The Beatles? Skillful writing, like any other talent, takes time to develop. Gladwell posits that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. The Beatles were just another local band before they went on tour in Germany, playing night after night for an extensive period of time. By the end of that insanely demanding stint in Germany, they had transformed from a silly local band to quite possibly the greatest band of all time.
Look, we all start from humble origins. If you have a natural gift for writing, and you most probably do if you’re reading this blog and writing already, then just have the patience to develop your skill. Your work will improve. If possible, take classes in Creative Writing, go to local workshops, or have an editor (like me) take a look at your work and help improve it. In time, you will become a better writer if you stick with it.
2. I will never get recognized.
OK, let’s face facts, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Lethem, Junot Diaz, Michael Chabon – these authors probably wouldn’t be recognized as easily in public as LeBron James, Brad Pitt, Barack Obama, or Donald Trump. Even Stephen King wouldn’t be as easily recognizable as any of the aforementioned four. Unfortunately, many people in our modern society don’t read – however, those who do so are often quite voracious about it. People do buy books. People do read literary journals. People do appreciate amazing authors. Successful authors get speaking engagements, generous contracts from major publishers, and major press attention. This can happen to you.
But it goes back to the 10,000 hours thing. Develop your skill, and then learn how to market your writing. (As a publishing consultant, I can help…)
3. I will grow to hate writing.
Will you? Really? If writing is your passion, or at least one of your passions, and you’re devoting time to it, how can you develop a hatred for it? If anything, as you improve, as you get recognized more and more, and as you begin receiving compensation for it, you’ll grow to love writing even more.
If you hate writing now, ask yourself if it’s really something you enjoy doing, or are you doing it against your will. If you hate writing, ask yourself if you hate the lack of recognition, financial compensation, or how your work stands up to your favorite authors. If any of those three are what’s causing you to hate writing now, then put in more hours and watch how in time your hatred will dissipate and transform to an unquenchable love.
4. Writing is something that cannot be lucrative.
OK, in fairness, if you want to be a millionaire, writing is probably not the profession for you. However, if you develop your abilities as a writer, you can get by, and even live well purely from your own creative output. Also, recognition as a writer grants you a huge in to communications jobs and if recognized enough, work as an adjunct professor (or more with the appropriate degree).
A few months back, I met a gentleman who runs an open mic for poets and other talent in New York City. His name is Mike Geffner and he is the founder of The Inspired Word – New York City’s best open mic. As a young man, he sought to make a living through writing, and he’s never had to work in any other field to get by. You can too.
5. My writing isn’t good because it’s not like the stuff I read in high school/college.
Stop! High schools and colleges primarily teach literary fiction and classical fiction. There is quality writing in these genres, undoubtedly, but there are talented writers who write for audiences other than academics and other erudite individuals. Few academics would dismiss the work of Arthur C. Clarke. No one can argue with the sales prowess of J. K. Rowling. You don’t have to write literary fiction to be a writer. If you want to write well, you need to write what you want to write, not what you imagine others expect you to write.
I hope this post was informative. If you find this helpful, please share this with your friends on social media. Also, if you or anyone you know might need an editor, copy editor, or publishing consultant, I’d be honored to assist. Simply email me if you’d like to get in touch.