As with any artistic venture where nothing is definitive, creative writing has developed its own mythology. Famous writers have excellent writing advice and ideas for when you write a book, but often what they say can be daunting, growing into myths that seem insurmountable and can block you before you start. Don’t let this happen to you! Here are some “myths” of writing that are just that. Not absolute truths. Myths.
You must write 1,000 words a day. When I read that Joyce Carol Oates writes 10,000 words a day (that is NOT a typo) I just about hung it up. Don’t despair. If you even just write 500 words a few days a week (and for an example, this short article is 500 words) in a year that’s a book! Even 100 words (around the size of this paragraph) is something. The point is to connect to your writing. Before you know it, you will be writing 1,000 words, but you sure don’t have to start there. And on the days it doesn’t come…it doesn’t come. When you get in the zone, you will make up for it. Don’t stress. It will all even out.
You must write every day. In On Writing, Stephen King says he takes Christmas and his birthday off, then says well, no, he doesn’t even take that time off. Great advice? Sure, and the idea is too—make writing a habit, like brushing your teeth. But don’t let it stop you if you can only carve one session a week in your busy schedule to write. The key is whatever you do, be consistent. Just write. Every day? Would be good (great, in fact) but don’t let it be a deal-breaker. If it’s all you’ve got, a few times or once a week works, too.
Write what you know. Tell that to Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, or any author for that matter. I don’t think Agatha Christie ever killed someone or solved a murder mystery. Where this probably began is in the advice to write authentic. In other words, write from your heart, research what you don’t know to bring your writing as close to the truth as you can. But by all means, let your imagination go where it will.
You must outline before you start. Or the opposite, you must not outline, let your muse be free. Either way is fine. Neither way is fine, too. I have a vague idea of where I’m going, but I don’t outline. So think all the way ahead (outline) or not at all ahead (seat-of-your-pants) or anywhere in between. Build your own process of writing. And don’t stick to it if something else works better!
Yes, there is some excellent advice contained within every myth, but find your own process and write your own way. Make writing fun, enjoyable, and do-able and it will enrich your life in ways you can’t yet imagine. But write on, and you will![author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://howtowriteshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/KathyColum.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion,” available online and in bookstores everywhere. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, “Between the Lines.” She writes from a log home in the woods of southwestern Wisconsin that she shares with her husband and three cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com“[/author_info] [/author]