Are those pies in the blog image making you hungry?
Mhmm...I could really go for a little dessert right now! NaNoWriMo is in full swing and, of course, that much writing always lends itself to snacking on a few extra sweets for motivation. Ya feel me?
Now I don't know about you, but never do my writing doubts hit hardest then when I'm trying to pursue a big goal or when I'm working under pressure–two things you're likely experiencing now that we're a few days into NaNo.
But even if you aren't trying to write 50k this month (or if you're reading from the future. Hello!), we all need some encouragement as we make our way through this crazy, messy writing life. That's why I'm bringing you 10 encouraging writing truths today!
Shall we dive in?
Truth #1: You don't have to write every day.
Say what?! That's right. I'm personally a HUGE fan of my daily writing habit. I began writing every day after taking Faye Kirwin's Writember Workshop back in February 2015, and I've now written for over 615 straight days!
And while I encourage every writer to give a daily writing habit a try at least once in their writing journeys, a daily writing habit will not work for everyone.
Simple schedules and time constraints aside, we all have different writing processes. While I can bang out 200 words in 10 minutes any given time, others can't find their groove in that short a session. They work much better when they have a larger block of time to really dive in deep.
And that's okay! If writing a little here and there just doesn't work for you, don't feel like you aren't truly a dedicated writer. Everyone has a unique process–and more on that in a bit!
Truth #2: You aren't any less a writer if you started later in life.
You often hear stories of authors who have been writing since birth. Their passion is an all-consuming hunger. They simply don't feel alive if they aren't writing! And as such, they never really doubt that they aren't writers. They know it's in their blood.
But that's not me.
I wrote a few things here and there growing up, but I didn't truly discover my passion for writing until I was 17. And for years, I doubted that I was a "real" writer. I mean, if I were, wouldn't I have been writing all my life? Wouldn't my passion have been all-consuming, too?
I don't know why I didn't write insatiably when I was younger, but I DO know that I write insatiably now.
And at the end of the day, that's all that matters. I'm passionate about writing NOW, and that makes me a writer NOW. Just as much as any other author.
Truth #3: You don't need talent to be a writer.
Piggy-backing on our last truth, you don't need to be some sort of writing prodigy in order to be a "real" writer.
Sure, some writers are obviously gifted. But there are plenty of published authors who have fought tooth and nail to build their writing and storytelling skills simply because they desperately wanted to tell their stories.
That hard work and dedication to your craft? That is what makes you a writer.
Not inherent talent. So get out there and WRITE.
Truth #4: You WILL get better with time.
I can't begin to tell you how many writers have emailed me to express their disappointment in their skills. "I just don't know if I can do this. I love my story, but every time I try to write it, it sucks."
This is usually where I ask how long they've been writing. And the most common answer?
Just a few months.
JUST A FEW MONTHS?!
Friends, writing is like any other hobby–painting, piano playing, fishing, belching the ABCs–you need to learn the ropes and practice, practice, practice before you produce anything of merit. You're only as good a writer as the amount of time and effort you put in.
The sky's the limit here, folks!
Truth #5: There ARE stories left to tell.
Sometimes it seems as though every story in the universe has already been written, but that's just not the case. Will every story be reminiscent of another? Sure. We are, after all, working within the confines of the human experience and that only goes so far.
But every last story can absolutely be unique. It's all about finding the right perspective.
Can you tell a familiar story through a new lens? How can you take a classic trope, archetype, or cliché and flip it on its head? Can you make your story unique by window-dressing it in a new, fantastical world?
Don't forget about the beauty that is YOU, the author. Your personality, struggles, situation, and life experiences all give you an outlook on life that is entirely original. USE THAT. Harness it and make your latest story unique and genuine. Readers WILL take notice.
Truth #6: Your writing process will be unique.
You are never, ever, ever going to write like another writer. Not entirely.
We all work in vastly different ways, writing vastly different things. I, for example, write outlines that are roughly 10,000 words long. That's the length of a short story! But I do so because I find it helpful to have that much detail at hand when I fast-draft my novels.
I then go on to complete roughly five rounds of revising and editing, using some techniques that may vary greatly from your own. And that's just scraping the surface of how I craft a book!
There is nothing wrong with my process, just as there is nothing wrong with your own. What is wrong is trying to mimic another writer's process in an attempt to recreate their success. Because that leads us into our next truth...
Truth #7: There is no right way to write a novel.
You're not going to find the perfect process, the perfect technique, the perfect anything when it comes to writing a book. What works for one writer may not work for any number of others. It's as simple as that.
Writing a novel is incredibly hard, no matter how you approach it, so approach it in the way that makes the most sense for you. For some, that means following all of the writing "rules" that have been presented over the years.
For others, that means ditching everything they've been taught and writing wild. And that's fine, too!
Truth #8: It's okay to write in multiple genres.
This truth diverges a bit from the rest, but it's still oh-so important. You often hear that in order to find commercial success, you need to stick to writing one genre. Make your name synonymous with that genre and readers will know exactly what to expect from your books.
And if you do write something in a different genre, you're told to use a pen name so that readers don't get confused. But all that advice? It's old school now.
Thanks to the rise of both self-publishing and author superstars like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, writers have more free reign to create whatever they wish without the risking their commercial success.
More and more often, readers purchase books based on the author's reputation, not the intrigue of the books themselves. And as an author, that gives you the opportunity to write whatever you want, whenever you want. So let your imagination run wild, and don't be afraid to explore a thing!
Truth #9: No one really knows what they're doing.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: writing is hard stuff.
I have been writing avidly for four and a half years now, and I've been running She's Novel for nearly two. But still, I don't know what I'm doing. Sure, I understand the craft of writing fairly well, but very little of that knowledge comes in handy during the daily grind.
We all sit down, ponder, procrastinate, and wonder if we're doing this right. Is that metaphor too cliché? Is this character well-rounded enough? Why does my plot feel stale even though I thought it was super cool when I began?
We're all just telling stories and hoping we're doing a half decent job of it. So when you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or confused, know that you've simply joined the club. Because we're all just trying to figure this thing out.
Truth #10: We all have doubts.
I'm not just talking healthy doubts that encourage us to make our stories better, like the questions mentioned in our last truth. I'm talking heavy, crippling, terrifying doubts that we whisper to ourselves in our darkest moments. Things like...
- I will never be good enough to publish a book.
- No one will ever read this anyway, so why bother?
- All of this is a waste of time.
- I'll never be as good as that writer.
I'll be honest with you. My biggest doubt is that my first published book won't live up to the high expectations you guys have for it. After all, it's easy to look at She's Novel and think that I'm some sort of writing mastermind. But I am soooo not. I'm just trying to do my best here!
And I know that doubt won't be true, not if I work to overcome it. And that really is the key here. The only way your doubts are made reality is if you do nothing to prove them wrong.
We all have severe doubts from time to time. Many of us even live with them consistently. But that doesn't mean we should let them stop us from chasing down our writing dreams. We simply need to remind ourselves of a few powerful truths, then keep on keeping on!
Have these writing truths helped you kick a few doubts to the curb and get re-inspired? I hope so! In the comments below, tell me:
- What are some of your biggest writing doubts?
- What writing truth on this list meant the most to you?
- How do you remind yourself to fight back against doubt?
I can't wait to hear from you, friend!
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Kristen Kieffer is a writer of fantasy fiction and the creative writing coach behind She's Novel. She's made it her mission to help aspiring authors write sensational novels because obliterating expectations is her jam. Her other passions? Coffee and Tolkien, of course!