Monday, January 10, 2011

14 Lies We Tell Ourselves about Writing

Every writer has done it at some time: we’ve lied to ourselves about our writing. These lies might bring us much needed confidence, they might set us up on lofty heights, but they will soon get us into a tangle and hold us back. Below are some examples:
  1. I can only write when I’m inspired.
  2. If it’s acceptable to break the writing rules, then I don’t need to learn the rules in the first place.
  3. I know all I’ll ever need to know about my craft. 
  4. Reading is an indulgence that wastes my time when I should be writing.
  5. I don’t need to go to writing conferences or workshops.
  6. I don’t need a critique partner. 
  7. I don’t need to build a network. My writing will speak for itself.
  8. I can finish a novel in just two drafts.
  9. Editors don’t know what they are talking about. They just want to change my work for the sake of changing it.
  10. Marketing? I don’t need to know about marketing. My book is so great it will fit into the market without the need for research.
  11. I don’t need to check the submission guidelines. I know the manuscript format agents and publishers want.
  12. Single spacing my manuscript saves money and the environment. The publishers will understand.
  13. Blogging is only good for promoting my own work.
  14. Once I get accepted for publication I can finally sit back and relax.
    Have you told yourself any of these lies? Can you think of other lies writers tell themselves?


    1. I am guilty of #1. Ultimately it's just a form of procrastination, and then I feel even less inspired when I realize I've missed opportunities to write.

    2. No.1. It's me being very lazy!!!! But out of all these awful lies, that's it!! Just one!! Phew!!

      Take care

    3. Those are good - and very common :) I think we also tell ourselves that the hardest part is getting an agent, but my friends tell me it's not!

    4. You have summed up all of them! Every writer should remind themselves of those. Thanks!

    5. writing has rules??? OMG! :)
      I do love number 4 and I like to mix it with - if I read other people's books it might influence my own writing and I want to stay unique :)

      Number 7 is true, but so sad :(

    6. OOHH all of those are good. I'm guilty of #1. But I think it's more of a "safe never starts" thing. I feel if it's not a knock out idea for a scene then I don't want to write it. But most of the time I find out the simple scenes I thought would stink morph into something wonderful.

    7. Yes, all these are definitely lies. Especially #6 tied in with #8--two drafts of a novel usually don't cut it, and you HAVE to have other critical eyeballs on your work.

      Lie #15: I am not a writer unless I am published. ;o)

    8. Very good list. I'm not going to share which lie I'm most guilty of.

    9. Liz, so true. It IS a form of procrastination and us writers are particularly skilled at finding ways to procrastinate ;)

      Old Kitty, hehe well done! (I can't say the same)

      Jemi, really? getting an agent isn't the hardest? I'd like that proven ;)

    10. Jan, I'm sure there's some I've missed ;)

      Dezzy, crazy huh? Oh, Oh and yes! I can't read books in case I'm influenced by them! Good one.

      L A Colvin, yes, I've hesitated to develop an idea because I don't think it's good enough, but ideas generally do grow, change and improve when we work on them.

    11. Carol, oh! #15 is brilliant! So true -- or rather, NOT true! :)

      Susan, hehe. I'm guilty of most of them -- especially when I was first starting out as a writer.

    12. These are fantastic! I've definitely been guilty of #1, but the rest are also so true. And Carol's #15 is right on!

      Lie #16: You can't learn to write. Either you have talent or you don't.

      Great post!

    13. I'm guilty of #1. Yeah....procrastination queen here...

    14. Once upon a time ... I may have believed some of those. Thankfully, that was a long time ago. =D

    15. I used to be a firm believer in #1, but I learned that if you just sit there and FORCE yourself to write something.. anything... eventually the words will start to flow.

      Great list and great reminder! :)

    16. #6... hahahaha, lately I'm learning just how much I DO need a critique partner. Or better yet, a barrel-load of AW squirrels :D

    17. Well, you know, this is just so very fine indeed. Thank you, peace,


    18. I was guilty of all or most of these at one time. I think I've overcome most of them, but I do still find it difficult to write when I'm not "inspired".

    19. The perfect list, Lynda. And I too am loving Carol's 15th addition. It's nice to see people feel that way!

    20. Seriously, I think we all started out thinking one, or many of these untruths! But it doesn't take long to realize, you're just not the smarty pants you thought you were and maybe it's time to pay attention?

      Love the list and will refer back to it on occasion just to make sure I'm not slipping up!

    21. Hey, Lynda! \

      I can think of a few lies that I tell myself time and again, but sometimes I just got to face reality and I often do. It's tough being a writer sometimes, but you got to be truthful to yourself and realize some of the things that you got to do.

      Great post and write on!

    22. In the past I have, hopefully now I know better. You have a great list and I can't think of one I wouldn't have on there.
      I think the best lie I have told myself is that my first draft isn't so bad. NOT!!

    23. I tell myself I don't need to go to conferences ... that's mostly to make myself feel better though because I can't really go to any being over here in Korea. I want to go to some though.

    24. shhhhh!!!! i'm in denial!!!!

    25. It's only in the last few weeks that I overcame #4. I'd convinced myself that I didn't have time to read, though I always had plenty of time for activities other than writing!

    26. I can't say I ever told myself some the lies you've listed (I'm no-where near confident enough about my writing) but I do like to delude myself occasionally. Like I tell myself I don't need to study the sci-fi market to write the next big thing or to avoid time-worn plot cliches! Wait. I guess that does count as a lie. LOL.

    27. I was guilty of #1 early on. But I learned writing can often help me find the inspiration. Thought alone never works.

      I'm convinced any writer who claims to have never gotten a rejection is lying.

    28. Great list! I pretend conferences aren't important, although I do know otherwise. It's more that they require international airfare to attend. :P

    29. Number 1 is what I use when I want to procrastinate. I know it isn't true, because when I reread sections I've written when I wasn't feeling inspired, there's NO difference when I compare them to sections I've written when I was inspired! But when I'm in a procrastination mood, all reason flies out the window.

    30. I'm thinking that a mature writer will understand these for what they are - excuses.

      Something I wish I had more of is discipline. I won't write anything for ages and then get back on track when there's a fever in my blood to continue with whatever story I'm supposed to be working on.

      Good reminders here of what writers are supposed to do and some pitfalls to avoid.

    31. Gabi, yes, your #16 is also so true. Hard work, practise, perseverence all help to build talent.

      Words Crafter, hehehe

      Alex, well done!

      RaShelle, YAY! It's good to be able to say that.

      WritingNut, yes indeed. It's part of my motto: Just keep writing!

    32. Trisha, critique partners make a world of difference. Not only can they help you by critiquing your work, and you help them, but you also gain so much by critiquing someone else's work.

      D M Solis, peace

      Melissa, it is difficult to write while not inspired, but for me that's 80% of the time. I just forge ahead anyway. Once the first draft is done inspiration flies out the window -- the rest is hard work.

    33. Paul, it was a good one ;)

      Nathalie, haha I love the way you put it.

      Vatche, ew, reality. But you right: it IS tough being a writer.

      Terri, hahaha yes! I've told myself that. So funny. I think I'm a genius until I read it again after a break. One day I'll learn ;)

      Quinn, they don't have any writer's conferences in Korea? There's always online workshops you could do too. Although there is something special about conferences.

    34. Aspiring, oops, sorry. Pretend it was a list of tips ;)

      Wendy, yep, I still do it on occasion. Everything else is more important than reading. I have no time. blah blah. I have to keep reminding myself how important reading is and make the time.

      Ellie, ah yes, those precious plot cliches we love so much...

      M Pax, yes! everyone gets rejects at some time. Everyone. Expect it.

    35. Alison, conferences can be expensive... but so worth it.

      Belle, hehe pracrastination is a powerful enemy of the writer.

      JL Campbell, yes, definitely excuses. And discipline takes practise.

    36. Yep! I've told myself a few of those lies already. Now I know what lies I'll tell myself in the future!

    37. This list made me smile. Everyone deludes themselves at some point. I wish #12 were true!


    38. I have told several of these lies to myself. # 1 used to be my most favourite excuse, not anymore. Great list!

    39. Pat, haha your comment made me laugh ;)

      Jai, yes, so do I

      Rachna, #1 seems to be the grand reason for procrastination for the majority.

    40. Oh, number 14 really makes me laugh! These are all great, but they're only the positive lies we tell ourselves (ways that make life easier). I'd like to hear the negative lies we tell ourselves! In fact...maybe I'll do a post on that! (Unless you have already?)

    41. Susan, nope, I haven't done a post like that. Feel free to write one. I'd love to read it :)


    I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.