Writer Wednesday: Writing Myths We Tell Ourselves
Good morning authors and welcome to the middle of another week! Today on the blog I thought I would touch on a few of the writing myths or really, the lies, we tells ourselves. The writing business is one that is constantly in flux. Publishing is comprised of many divergent paths, and authors come from all walks of life. This is a strange time to be an author, where there are more opportunities than ever but it is also harder than ever to break through the publishing gateways. With all that on our shoulders, more often or not we still manage to make the business of writing more difficult for ourselves. Whether its setting up internal boundaries or creating unrealistic expectations, the mentality behind writing seems even harder than the business itself.
Writing Myths (and Lies) We Tell Ourselves
Failure to Thrive
One of the most common lies we tell ourselves as authors? If we don't meet our personally set goals, we are failing. If we don't manage to get writing done that day, that week, that month, we are failing. Miss a deadline? Fail. Never mind that most authors are juggling full time jobs, parenting, schoolwork, or a dozen other things in their day. That many balls in the air can only stay up for so long before one slips. We are human, and life can get hectic real quick. Yet, we continually kick ourselves for missing those goals instead of being kind to ourselves. Rather than set lofty goals or treat a missed goal post as a failure, we should be shifting what our goals look like. Start small. Set out to write 50 words a day instead of 500. Set aside 15 mins to write at a time instead of an hour. Just because the goal isn't lofty doesn't mean it's not something to work towards. That 50 words a day still adds up. Anything over that is great, but you've still met your initial goal and if 50 words is all you can manage that day, you've still created a success for yourself. Any words on a page, any effort towards your writing, is a form of success.
Age Really is Just A Number
We do love a good sensational success. Hearing about the success of young authors, signing six figure book deals in their late teens or early twenties creates a misguided sense that success must happen early in life. When the reality is most careers, writing and otherwise, often don't reach a peak for years, sometimes decades. Those who meet success young are more of an outlier than a standard to judge ourselves by and on top of that, every writing journey is unique. It is incredible to see an author signed that young, but it does not diminish the success or talent of someone who signs a deal in their fifties or older. Nor does it diminish the talent and quality of the young author, though our voice continues to develop and refine over the course of our writing career, no matter what age we begin. There is also a pressure on young authors to perform, an added weight on the success or failure of their debut. Though that pressure is another myth debut authors now feel.
First Book Syndrome
'If my first book fails, I won't succeed as an author'. There are a great many debuts in recent years that have performed phenomenally well, however, just as many have been slept on. That is in the traditional marketing sphere, where a publisher could dump a series for varied reasons. Applying that mentally to indie publishing is even more pressure, where building a novel's pre release buzz can feel like an insurmountable task. What works for one book might not work for another, even in the same genre. In either case, the reception of a release, good or meh, is not the end all be all of your writing career. Victoria Schwab, who has an absolutely thriving career today, does not hide the long road she traveled to get there. She often stresses that success didn't come to her until she had over six books out. Your first book could do surprisingly well. Or you could find success with your fifth. Or your twelfth book could be where you blossom. The takeaway? Don't pin all your expectations on your first book. Even if your first does well, your second might not earn the same buzz. The idea is to keep writing and keep building.
What Success Looks Like
There are many, MANY, paths to travel in publishing. Between the advent of serialization platforms, the numerous routes of self, small, and traditional presses, success in publishing can take many forms. And what success looks like to us, on an individual level, can be wildly different from someone else's viewpoint. This is another reason why comparing your writing journey to someone else is a hard pass. It's apples to oranges. Comparing an indie author to a trad author is unfair, to both of them. We may create different goal posts for success as we move along in our careers, but that does not meant what we have achieved until now is lesser for it. Or that we haven't seen a form of success before, only that our idea has morphed into another tantalizing ideal to strive towards. It's easy to get caught up in the current struggle and forget what we have already achieved.