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June 7, 2018

Thursday Thoughts: 5 Lies Writers Believe That Are Holding Them Back

Purple fruit cut in half, revealing a lemon with text: Writer Lies: What Do You Falsely Believe?

As I mentioned last week, my current burnout level means that I’m trying to reduce the amount of time this blog takes while still ensuring that I’m sharing good stuff with you all. *smile*

If you missed the announcement:

Starting next week—and continuing at least for June, July, and August—my blogging schedule will be as follows:

  • Tuesdays: New blog content like usual.
  • Thursdays: Sharing other content:
    • guest posts,
    • rerunning older posts,
    • favorite post I discovered online that week,
    • linking to all the writing-related posts I tweeted about that week,
    • etc., etc.

So today, I’m sharing a fantastic post by K.M. Weiland. She consistently has great content on her blog, and this post really resonated with me.

We Experience False Beliefs, Just Like Our Characters

In her post, K.M. points out that we experience in real life the same types of arcs that our characters face in their stories. We struggle, we search for truth, and we overcome lies—especially those that hold us back.

A big part of our characters’ arcs has to do with their false belief:

“False beliefs are things the characters believe that we, as the author, know not to be true. They’re not really unlovable, a loser, unworthy, deserving of their pain, etc. …

Over the course of the story, characters move two steps forward and one step back in their journey to overcome that False Belief… Finally, in the climax of the story, a plot event that would normally trigger a character’s False Belief doesn’t, and furthermore, the character rejects their former belief, often stating for the sake of the theme or the antagonist that they now know it not to be true. Ta-da! The reader sees the character change and the emotional arc is complete.”

Although real-life arcs aren’t nearly as neat and tidy as the arcs in our stories, just like our characters, we have false beliefs about the world around us.

Some of our false beliefs have to do with writing. And just like our characters’ false beliefs, these lies can prevent us from moving forward with the next step of our career, improving our skills or ourselves, or reaching our goals.

The False Beliefs of Writers

K.M. shares 5 common false beliefs that writers might hold and then digs into what the truth is. A few really struck a chord with me…

Lie #2: Being a Writer Is Too Hard

She points out that writing is rewarding because it’s hard, and that reminded me of the keynote address at the very first RWA National Conference I attended. Back in 2010, the one-and-only Nora Roberts was the keynote speaker.

Just like our characters, writers can have false beliefs — what are yours? Click To TweetShe’s been in the business a long time, starting back in the days of typewriters and having to retype pages with every edit or revision. So she has no patience with us whippersnappers who never had to deal with that experience complaining about writing being oh-so-hard. *grin*

Like K.M.’s observation, she said that if writing was easy, everyone would do it (and be good at it), and then it wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding. Our sense of satisfaction when we finish a writing project is higher precisely because of the struggle, so we shouldn’t wish that writing would be too much easier. *smile*

Lie #3: You Need Someone to Show You How to Be a Writer

I get emails occasionally from new writers looking for a mentor or someone to hold their hand. I understand. There’s so much to learn, and the path to success can be overwhelming with choices.

But even if I could do a brain dump of everything I know (and with this blog, I do try), that’s still different from the ability to put it into practice. No one else can teach us about our voice, the themes that resonate with us, or the best ways to get our thoughts onto the page.

We have to discover all that on our own. So while we can learn a lot from others, our writing and creativity still comes down to our own practice, practice, practice.

Lie #5: Where You Are Today Defines Your Success

We’re bound to make plenty of mistakes and go down dead-end paths over our writing career. None of that means we’re doomed.

Like I’ve said before about failure, we never really fail unless we give up:

If our goal is not to “succeed” or avoid failure or mistakes,
but to learn something,
we will never fail.

Unlike our characters, our stories don’t end. We can continue to push, to improve, to learn, to try.

Now, go learn some deeper truths about writing and check out this great post… *smile*

5 Lies Writers Believe That Are Holding Them Back — by K.M. Weiland

Which lies in K.M.’s post resonated most strongly with you? Do you have any observations about her list of common writer lies? Do you have other writer false beliefs to add to the list?

P.S. For those keeping score at home, this post was a few words longer than my goal for a Thursday post, but it was still a great improvement time-wise, and that matters far more than an arbitrary word count. So, yay!

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Bran Ayres
Bran Ayres

Sometimes I think we are harder on ourselves than we are on our characters.

Deborah Makarios

I think I struggle with the “it should be easy” lie. I mean, I’m not trying to smuggle intel across enemy lines here – wait… maybe I am. OK, it’s hard, and I’m getting on with it. Thanks!
Oh, and as Bran says, we’re often harder on ourselves than on our characters, so if you find yourself up a tree, for pity’s sake, don’t throw stones at yourself! After all, it’s ‘love others as you love yourself’, not ‘love others instead of yourself’.

Sarojini Pattayat
Sarojini Pattayat

I got answer of my own argument about my ability to write. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Sarojini Pattayat
Sarojini Pattayat

I got answer to my inner editor. Thanks for sharing.

Sieran Lane

Hey Jami,

Definitely, writing would be MUCH less enjoyable if it were easy. The great thing about writing is that it is extremely difficult, yet is still doable. Plus, you get to feel proud of yourself for your perseverance, because not everybody has the perseverance to finish writing (and editing) a book! Let alone a series.

I went and checked out K.M. Weiland’s post, and “#4: You Don’t Have Anything Worth Saying and/or Will Never Say It Well Enough” resonated most with me. There are unfortunately some writers or would-be-writers who believe that they are boring people, so they won’t write anything meaningful and worthwhile. Wow, but as a human being living in this life, you will have unique experiences, ideas, and insights to share with everybody else! Not everyone will be interested in your ideas, but that’s okay, because we all have our target audience. For instance, I am somewhat fascinated by the controversial topic of euthanasia, but clearly not all readers are that intrigued by this topic.

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