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2 Writing Myths That Are Hindering Your Progress
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Writing sure isn't easy for a lot of people, and some of the big names we know think so too:

"Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." Red Smith

"All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath." F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Writing is not a profession, but a vocation of unhappiness." Georges Simenon

If you have a passion for writing and you think ink runs in your veins, you are reluctant to go for it because something's getting in the way. Does writing really have to be so hard?

I don't know of any writer's life who lived before my time, but the majority of good ones I have encountered who teach writing beg to disagree.

Here are the top 3 writing myths to bust right now and get the joy back into your passion.

Myth # 1: Writing faster leads to poor quality results

On the contrary, writing slower leads to poorer results. Why? Writing slower means you're giving your brain time to think about a whole lot more things than your body is ready to work on at once so you tend to lose focus when you try to convey thought AND worry about how your writing looks like all at the same time.

When you write slow, you instantly miss the fleeting, still small voice of inspiration that is one of your main reasons for writing in the first place, then it destroys your momentum until you get to the point when you're already trying to recall why you are writing what you are writing in the first place.

Yes, when you write fast you are bound to make a typo or two or make a clumsy word choice. But writing and editing are two different activities. When you are writing, write. Editing can follow.

Myth # 2: Writer's block is blocking my way to success

It was Ghostwriter Dad Sean Platt who said that writer's block simply doesn't exist. Why? A writer is who you are. And so are other people who are doctors, carpenters, and singers. There is no such thing as doctor's block, carpenter's block, and singer's block.

They just do what they have to do and the notion of something getting in the way of what they have learned and trained for is both odd and unnatural.

Words are words, and you use words to convey thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Unless you have been lobotomized, unconscious, or something to that effect, your thoughts, ideas, and emotions flow in a constant stream for as long as you live.

All words do are picture and capture those thoughts. The picture may look imperfect, muddy, completely novice or naive, but once you pivture those things on paper to the best of your ability, you have done your job.

So what if your work not perfect. That's what drafts are for. And what's the definition of perfect anyway?

The next time you sit down to write and face a blank screen, just type and ask yourself: I know how to write, think and feel. I have everything I need to start. What was blocking ny writing again?

Do you want to be a writer? It does take patience, practice, and perseverance, but here's the good news: it sure doesn't have to be so dang hard.

Street Talk


Good point about separating writing and editing. It doesn't work well when you try to do them both at once.

  about 1 decade ago

I should add: though my only fiction publications are in small and amateur press [though I have three novels in progress currently plus a very long-term experimental work], I have done so much writing of that sort that my mind is programmed to BE visionary when I sit down with a box of sharpened pencils, looseleaf paper, and a clipboard. In my own blog, which I haven't yet backlinked to Street Articles but plan to at some point, I emphasize the importance in business writing of having a solid plan at the start. I am a structured documentation trained writer, and emphasis in that discipline is minimizing "upfront downtime" in writing. Typically, even in fiction for me I will start with a solid concept of the general characters, setting, and at least one major conflict and the vision rolls out from the setting, characters and conflict. But, I often start with several pages of writing notes on the story line basics. For long form fiction, I write scene-by-scene: not necessarily in order of the final product. In fact, on my first Christian novel [currently with critique partners], it drove a non-writer colleague nuts that when I got to a block in the story I skipped a huge chunk chronologically, started from a key conflict well into the storyline, and from thereon wrote the storyline both forward and backward from the key conflict and towards the end of the process went back to get everything to "meet in the middle." Drove her insane that I could do that; although that's EXACTLY the way they film movies and television shows. I also like to have multiple projects so I can work on the one at any time that feels most compelling. As you say, this is a good antidote to the "stuck" experience on a particular work. My subconscious at this point is so well trained that on more than one occasion, my fiction has come about from a literal overnight dream. The experimental work is a case in point, as is the current novel in progress that is the least far along [but that's most of seven chapters, so it's not like I'm not writing] and an early "fanzine" story I did . . . which proved enormously popular with the readership. Besides content, and my own blog, my current major project is wrapping up an E-book on tips and techniques for people who do not regard themselves as writers but must write on the job.

  about 1 decade ago

Great suggestions. As with every other learned skill, here really isn't once-size-fits-all method for writing your best, so if you haven't figured it out yet, you must be willing to give different methods a fair try until you find one that clicks for you. Good on you, and all the best to your work :)

  about 1 decade ago

Ahh, I see. Every writer’s process is different. In fact, the same writer can have different process with different works. I’m not the only one who works with a “visual, audio, emotion” process for first drafts of creative work like fiction. I know of at least one rising star in the romance genre who maintains a strict “visionary” and “no editing in first draft, just get it down” rule. For me, with fiction, I have to get that vision down first and polish comes later. You do touch on issues that do underlie so-called writer’s block especially for beginners such as fear of success or failure, criticism, or rejection. And I’ve also known the people you describe that one writer once referred to as people not who want to write but who “want to HAVE written,” who rely on writer’s block as an excuse. I call them writing groupies. They never write anything unless forced to on the job, talk about writing all the time but never do it, and are always trying to show off by looking up writer’s conferences they plan to attend and talking about things they’ve discovered about markets that are common knowledge to any serious writer in the first year of submitting even just for clips. They don’t in fact realize that serious writers purposely avoid the conferences that have a lot of such “writing groupies.” Now, that said, I HAVE known a few people who thrashed around for a bit when they first undertook to learn writing and eventually got their feet under them: to some degree, I did so myself some years back. You also bring up a good point that one way to resolve the issue is simply to turn to a different project than that you are stuck on. I also know other writers who have come up with various diversions to help the subconscious along. When I first began with fiction, one of the things I did when I got stuck was change my location. I would go to a restaurant for lunch and bring a clipboard and paper. Or, I would go to a place like a state park that the setting reminded me of the story setting I was stuck on. This often jogged something that let me push through the storyline obstacle. We all have to be willing to write junk in first draft. Content Writing is easy for me, and I can almost always knock that off very quickly unless I’m sick and can’t focus.

  about 1 decade ago

Interesting article, nicely done. However, I question some of your conclusions. Interestingly enough, I actually did something recently on writer's block elsewhere. Let me raise my two points, here. I actually agree that for some types of writing, faster is better. Even the late Dick Francis talked about his work as beginning at the beginning of the calendar year and "racing to a finish." For most of us, this works well for nonfiction, especially business or content writing. However, I do find that I need "creative space" for certain types of writing such as most fiction and even work along the lines of copywriting which needs creative insight. On that kind of writing, I find I often have higher quality when I write more slowly and take the time to mentally "see and hear" the content. Although, even there, I've had cases where the vision was so vivid and complete that I had to write rapidly to capture it: and I typically still write that sort of material longhand first. On the other issue: I disagree that "block" doesn't exist, although I maintain it is not limited to writers. As a technical and business writer, I've worked with other creative minds and I've seen a comparable phenomenon occur in most of them. I've seen the equivalent of writer's block occur on the job for programmers, engineers, mathemeticians, scientists . . . and even architects and interior designers. There are some instances where the creative flow simply has to percolate through the subconscious. Still, I do like to see someone debunk the myth that "writer"s block is something that writers have an exclusive claim to.

  about 1 decade ago

Hi Christine, thanks for taking time to share your input. If it's possible for me to agree with some of your points but still maintain my position, then I do. The "write faster, write better" point I was referring to was about rapid content capturing, as you stated. If you initially wrote slower for the sole reason of simply wanting to pen down the perfect words on paper, that's when inspiration almost always escapes you hence writing slowly in this context actually leads to poorer results. About taking your time mentally "see and hear the content," in many ways this makes sense, especially in the revision phase of the first draft. But if quantity mattered to me as much as quality, I would still aim to write as fast as I can under the influence of my muse, and then see and hear the content much later. Several writers who touch on writing per se maintain that many (if not all) cases of writer's block find its roots in the fear of success or failure, criticism, or rejection. Some even use writer's block as an excuse not to create but still pass themselves off as creatives. The best antidote I have to writer's block is to just keep on writing, even if all I churn out is pure crap. I find that if I keep at writing irregardless, writer's block is like the common cold that resolves on its own.

  about 1 decade ago
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