Writers, we tell ourselves some things that aren’t true. Here’s what they are and – more importantly – some steps to reframe them so that we can meet our writing goals.
Hello writers. Today I wanted to share with you eight lies that writers tell themselves to keep them from finishing or sometimes even starting their novels. These are in no particular order, so let’s just jump right in. I’m not qualified to write a book. Do you have a story? Then you are qualified. While I’m not disparaging degrees in creative writing at any level, you don’t have to have a certain type of resume in order to write your novel. If you have a story in mind and are compelled to put it on the page and are willing to do the work, that is the only qualification necessary. Even if you’ve never taken a creative writing class in your life, you can learn the craft as you go. Another version of this lie is who do I think I am? So be sure to listen for that one too.
I don’t have time. This is a sneaky one and it might feel a little controversial, but bear with me, because I have your best mental health interest in mind. Yes, some people have busier day-to-day lives and others have more spaciousness in their days. I’m not denying that, but saying you don’t have time is not entirely accurate. Instead, say, I’m not prioritizing writing. And say it with no judgment, because it’s totally fine not to prioritize writing unless you want that to be different, in which case you can take control of your schedule and make some hard choices. If you prioritize writing above some other things, you will say no to those other things in order to write, but saying you don’t have time is taking control out of your own hands when actually you do have that control. I should be able to do this by myself.
Open any novel to the back and you will see at least a page’s worth of acknowledgements. The truth is, writing a novel is a team sport. While yes, the bulk of the work lies at the writer’s feet, there’s no reason for you to think that the only way to do this thing is to sequester yourself in an internet-free cabin in the woods and come out with a completely finished, polished manuscript all on your own. Yes, there are a lot of free resources out there, which is amazing, but you’ll also wanna have eyes on your novel along the way to make sure you’re filling in the gaps and getting the beautiful, meaty story that’s in your head onto the page in a way that will impact your reader how you want it to. When you’re ready to hit, publish or submit your query letter is not the first time someone else should be seeing it.
Since this has come up, before we dive into the rest of the list of lies we writers tell ourselves, I’d like to invite you to schedule a free introductory call with me. As we just established, writing a novel is a team sport and a book coach like me is a great place to start. I know that you wanna see this story completed and I want to help you, so don’t let your dreams stay on the back burner anymore. Go to the link below in the description and let’s talk about how to manage your mindset and get your novel written. I should be writing every day. First of all, anything you tell yourself that starts with the words “I should” is not true. It’s pressure you’re putting on yourself, and all it amounts to is shame when you’re then unable to do it. There are people in the writing community who swear by writing everyday, that it’s the only way to get better and stronger as a writer, and subsequently put your best work into the world.
But listen, writing everyday doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t work for me, and that’s okay. What’s far more important is that you build in a consistent habit of writing every day, twice a week, once a week – you can build a writing schedule that works for your life and you can meet your writing goals with that schedule. Real writers are always inspired and motivated. No, they’re not. Writers who find success, however you define that, do so by developing those consistent writing habits, managing their mindsets, and being willing to do the work even when they don’t want to, even when it’s not fun. No writer in the world sits bathed in the glow of the sun while sipping tea and being prompted by some magical muse 100% of the time. That’s fantasy. The work of writing is real. My first draft will just need some tweaks,
then I’ll be done. Oh, my friend, no. Your first draft, even a well-planned and thought out one, is telling yourself the story for the first time, and as eloquent of a writer as you may be, and as strong as your story idea is, I guarantee it is going to have gaps, inconsistencies, and other problems which will need addressing. Usually, writers go through multiple deep revisions, often tearing the story all the way down to the studs and building it up again. This is how the story becomes what it’s meant to be. I recommend assuming that your revision phase will take longer and be more intensive than anything else. Traditional publishing is the only kind that counts. Did you know that there are actually a lot of options for getting your work into the world? Now, I’m not saying that traditional publishing where a publisher buys your book from you and then puts it out onto shelves isn’t just fine.
It absolutely is, and if that’s your goal, great. But in today’s world, with advances in technology, it’s really only one route. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of your finished book racking up rejection after rejection from one of the big publishing houses, remember, there are lots of options and regardless of which way you go, you will reach the readers who need your story. No one will care about this story. Yes, they will. You have a reader out there who needs it. That’s all I’m going to say about that, but I do suggest checking out my recent video titled Your Story Matters, Period. If you find that some of these lies are bouncing around in your mind, don’t judge yourself for them. They all have roots in the way we learned about writing and what we think we know about the industry. Some of it is mindset work. Some of it is just readjusting our expectations and understanding. At the end of the day, anything you’re telling yourself that sounds like discouragement is probably your fear popping up and saying hello. Just remind yourself that writing a novel is hard and fear is part of the journey for everyone, but you don’t have to make decisions based in that fear. If you found this video useful and you know someone who might enjoy it, please subscribe and share. I’ll talk to you next time. Happy writing.