Tuesday, January 28, 2014

8 Myths about Writing (and the Truths, too)

Admit it. We have all Googled something along the lines of "How to get published fast," or "Easy Book Marketing." You know, we find ourselves in a rut so we want some reassurance that we can get our books out there for people to read.

*raises hand* Yup, I've been there and done that.

We end up clicking that link that says, "How to Become a National Bestseller Today!" or "Writing Secrets Nobody Else Will Tell You!!!" These are always followed by multiple !!!!!!!!

I'm here to tell you that those sites are just there to raise your hopes and make you feel good about writing for a while. Eventually the feeling will die and you'll be back in that rut. So my job today is tell you the TRUTH about writing. I'm going to take directly from my personal experiences, so you'll see what this process is like.


Nope. My very first science-fiction novel, Shadows: The Narlan Wars, was published on December 16, 2007. Want to see how bad it was? Click Here.

*shudders* Isn't it awful?

Anyways, I was convinced that I had written something truly great, dreamed of the movie and how I had just written the next Star Wars. When I self-published that book in 2007, I had a fanbase in my hometown, newspaper articles, website (the link I just told you to click...yes that's from 9 years ago). I had it all...except a professional publishing contract. I couldn't understand what was wrong. I spent 3 years of my life writing and editing that book. Why didn't anyone want it???

Here's a number: 22. What number is that? The number of rejections I got from publishers around the country before I wrote the sequel. Three years later, I self-published the sequel. Here's another number: 19. The number of rejections I got for the sequel. So I put my foot down, rewrote both books, combined them into one novel, and sent THAT off. In the meantime, I wrote half of the third book in the series. I got 14 more rejections.

This pretty much sums it up.
So what's the point I'm trying to make? Chances are, not matter how much time you put into it, your first book probably won't get published. And why is that? Simple...


Don't confuse this with "everyone has a story to tell." I believe that yes, everyone DOES have a story to tell...but not all everyone should sit down and start writing books. Not only would the world collapse (if it hasn't already...) but some people just, you know, can't tell stories well.

Don't lie to yourself: Do you like writing? If you stopped writing, would you truly forever feel as if a part of you was missing? If you're serious about writing, you need to love it with every ounce of your being, especially if you want to pursue writing as a career. If you think writing is easy, you probably aren't serious about it.

I've been writing novels since the summer after 6th Grade. People have tried to stamp the love of writing out of me just like Uncle Vernon tried to stamp the magic out of Harry. But guess what? NOTHING WORKS. I've been writing for 9 years and I enjoy it more now than ever before. If your passion doesn't grow overtime, maybe you should reconsider your profession.


You see that corner? Go sit in it and think about this until you don't believe it anymore.

There's a reason I'm working on my 4th draft of Embassy. I'm washing out the story and going through, chapter by chapter (AGAIN), to fix as much as possible and keep the story consistent with itself. You won't get this in one draft. Or two. Or three (maybe). Sometimes it can take upwards of 10 drafts or more to get a book exactly as it needs to be.

That should do it.
Fast Fact: I rewrote and revised the first chapter of Embassy forty-seven times.


I think it's something like 90% of published books never sell more than 5,000 copies. Most don't even come close to that. Then you've got to remember: just because some reads your book, that doesn't mean they'lllike it. They might read it and chuck it aside and never touch it again. Developing a platform is CRUCIAL to success.

On average, there are 450-500 new books published each DAY in the United States. Most won't ever get touched. 1% might become international bestsellers. Some will become movies, some will become firewood. So your job as a writer is to just write, it is to MARKET, too. The publishers can only do so much. But they've got their own success to worry about. If your book doesn't sell, and especially if you don't try to market your book, then bye-bye.

Yes, my books didn't sell that well...but seeing as self-publishing got me through high school without a job, I consider that some success. I actively tried to get people to read my work. I hosted events at the library, promoted my website, and had several newspaper articles.

You are not J.K. Rowling.
And if you are, thank you for visiting my blog!
The point is to promote, promote, promote. GET OUT THERE AND PROMOTE. I've met strangers on airplanes and buses and walking around town who see me writing and ask about it. Word of mouth is the best way to gain exposure and get readers.


Me? No. I personally walk to Market Square in Pittsburgh, and right there, in the middle of Starbucks or outside, edit and write. It's noisy, it's crowded. The wind blows my papers. Sometimes it's cold, sometimes it's blazing hot.

But I personally LOVE writing in public.

Besides, remember that exposure I was talking about? I set the proof copy ofEmbassy next to me (the physical, 470-page book I'm editing as I speak), and people come up and ask what it is. They might flip through (now it's all marked up in red pen), a lot will read the back cover, and some ask for my website and Facebook.

The point is, if you have something to show, your credibility goes up like a rocket. People immediately become interested in you and your work if they can READ what you have written.

Even Snoopy didn't write in a dark hole.
So don't sit in a dark room. Grow some thick skin and get out there. You'll thank yourself later.


This will work for people who are looking to make a quick buck. Thank you Twilight for infecting our lives with Werewolves and Vampires. Seriously, like every new book on the teen shelves is a vampire/werewolf story these days. And the story that Twilight tells, at its core, is VERY unhealthy. But alas...luckily the Harry Potter and Hunger Games fans outnumber the Twilight fans, so we aren't completely screwed. And don't even get me started on 50 Shades of Grey *sigh*

Twilight fanfiction, people.
So would you rather write a story that's just like everything else out there right now....or write a story that is genuine and unique and not a copycat of every other cliche these days? Seriously, copying all that just makes you look bad, and once it passes, you'll be out of luck.

This is why there are only a few big names in popular genres...all the other stuff just copies them and it's dull and shameful. Maybe you can try writing "the next big thing," not just "the big thing."


I'm going to tell you this right now. Writer's Block doesn't exist. Woah. I'm crazy. But the way I see it, it doesn't. I believe in stretches of "bad ideas," not stretches of "not being able to put a word on the page." It's a term by people who haven't yet developed the discipline to get off the internet and JUST WRITE.

Here's what writer's block is: Those 5 hours you spent looking at cats and Doctor Who (but really, is that a bad thing?) instead of writing. Your brainwaves lowered to a state of "boredom" and you felt demotivated to do anything else. That's not the inability to put words to the page, that's LACK OF DISCIPLINE.

Apply generously to unaffected areas
Case in point: Embassy was 151,000 in the first draft. I sat behind the computer, turned off the internet, AND WROTE. Just wrote and wrote and wrote. I didn't let my creativity stop. I forced myself to JUST KEEP THINKING. I woke up, got breakfast and coffee, sat in Starbucks, and wrote till dinner.

I did that every day for 10 days, and BOOM. Don't tell me Writer's Block is a thing. It isn't. Lack of true discipline is a thing.

(This applies to people who waste time surfing the web instead of writing. I'm aware that not everyone has hours and hours of free time. But seriously, if you waste the time you do have, you can only blame yourself.)


If you think it's easy, you aren't trying hard enough. You can't craft a flawless story in one sitting. My characters have changed, my story has changed, some of the events have changed.

Deciding what to do is difficult. You have to make sure everything fits together and runs smoothly. If something doesn't make sense, you have to revise it until it does. You have to make things CLEAR. You have to make things easy to understand (usually).

Crafting a story is hard. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you aren't willing to put in the effort required, you aren't going to get anywhere.

Are there any myths you would like to add?

Comment below!

No comments:

Post a Comment