1.The Lie: All writers wake up at 4 a.m. and write for at least three hours in the early morning darkness
The Reality: A lot of people say they are doing this. Very few people actually do—and these people are not my friends because HOW?
2.The Lie: If I’m not an alcoholic/addict I will never make great art
Elizabeth Gilbert said it best:
I’ve always had the sense that the muse of the tormented artist – while the artist himself is throwing temper tantrums – is sitting quietly in a corner of the studio, buffing its fingernails, patiently waiting for the guy to calm down and sober up so everyone can get back to work. Because in the end, it’s all about the work, isn’t it? Or shouldn’t it be?
3.The Lie: If I don’t write every day I am a failure
The Reality: Writing consistently is more important that writing daily.
4.The Lie: I should read more. Writers read!
The Reality: Reading is often an excuse to escape into another writer’s world instead of doing the work of building my own
5.The Lie: Revising as I write is a GREAT idea
The Reality: Revising as I write is really an excuse to keep from finishing. And finishing a draft is more important than perfecting a chapter.
6.The Lie: I can’t move on to the second chapter until I’ve perfected the first
The Reality: See above. Also, there’s a hundred percent chance the first chapter is going to get cut so why bother?
Also, this quote from Julia Cameron:
“Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It has nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move forward. It is a loop—an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole.”
7.The Lie: People who have sold books are rich
The Reality: LOL JOKES NO
8.The Lie: The first book I write will be trash and I should throw it away immediately
The Reality: The first book I write (and anything I write for that matter) might be trash. Or not. The only way to find out is to show people.
9.The Lie: Good friends make for GREAT critique partners
The Reality: Good friends are terrible critique partners. Because they’re good friends. Never show them anything
10.The Lie: Don’t show anything to your CPs until the whole thing is finished
The Reality: If I’m brave enough to show my CPs a work in progress, the finished product will be stronger
11.The Lie: I need at least a year to outline and brainstorm my book
The Reality: Thinking is less important than writing. I’m going to throw the outline away eventually so I might as well just write now
12.The Lie: You definitely need to print out your first draft. Otherwise how will you revise it?
The Reality: Printing is expensive and I will never read that thing anyway. Just give in to the robot overlords and keep everything on the computer.
13.The Lie: Grammar makes sense and I should learn it
The Reality: I am an Editor and I’m still terrible at commas and I should just move on with my life
14.The Lie: Writing 50,000 words in a month is a reasonable goal and if I can’t do that I’m a failure and should give up on life
The Reality: No. Just. No.
15.The Lie: Agents will appreciate my sense of humor and I should use as many puns as possible in my query letters
The Reality: Nobody cares
16.The Lie: Writing a book is super fun and not painful AT ALL
The Reality: *crying in corner*
17.The Lie: There is a better time to write than right now
The Reality: The best time to start writing is now. Like, right now.
There is no future, imaginary world where I will have more time and energy to write. If I don’t make the time to write today, than it is not a priority. Jobs, busy schedules, exhaustion—these are excuses. If I don’t’ prioritize writing now, than I never will.
PS: If you like this, you’ll probably like my weekly newsletter. It’s short, it’s sharp, and it’s full of the puns I cut from my query letter. Subscribe here.