The Top Ten Writing Myths We Still Believe. Myths 1-5 by Catharine Bramkamp
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us “The Top Ten Writing Myths We Still Believe. Myths 1-5.” Enjoy!
Women Write 2020, a five-day intensive (in-person) writing workshop was quickly shifted to an online offering.
Our goal is to deconstruct and present the how and why of creating a book by offering systems to stay on track. But before you can move forward, it’s important to leave behind many of the durable writing myths that slow progress as well as set you up for disappointment and frustration.
You can access the full talk at the end of the article.
Myth 1: Your writing is not good enough
We often compare our beginning drafts to a finished book. Don’t. To publish a book — it takes a village of experts. That book in your hand has been vetted, researched, and edited by a team of professionals. You can have the same attention and help when you get there. But first, go ahead and write, it’s very much good enough.
Myth 2: You are too old to start
We are going to age anyway, why not create something for your own legacy? As long as you can hit the keys on a computer, go for it.
I won’t bore you with all the stories of later-in-life-successes, but I will say that the valued distance of maturity, writing is often rich and nuanced, and publishing is more easily understood for what it really is. Also, that same combination of maturity against time passing can encourage efficiency and focus.
Myth 3: To write a book, you need an outline
We remember outlines from school, big Roman numbers, small letters captured by parenthesis. III, iii, a.
For whatever reason, you may feel that in order to create a coherent story you need to begin with that kind rigid road map. You don’t. Many writers write from the hip (ahem, like me). We create stories based on characters, ideas, or a comment we overheard, and we cheerfully write from there, no outline at all.
Will you get in trouble later? Yes. Can you write from a plan? Yes, But if you are inspired to start today — start. The plan and form will follow.
Myth 4: Publishing will make you happy
Publishing your wonderful book will give the project closure and will make you happy because you now hold the book in your hands and it’s finished.
Placing your book on your living room bookshelf will also make you happy. Discovering your book on a store shelf is a genuine thrill. For a few minutes.
For sustained happiness, nothing beats the writing. Nothing is more satisfying than exercising your creativity, being in the zone of creation, and channeling the Muse.
The process of writing is what we love and what truly makes us happy. The finished project is just that, finished.
Myth 5: Success, thy name is Oprah
This is a myth that will not die. For years it seemed that all an author needed was one interview on Oprah and their book would hit the bestseller list, and yes, that is good, even great. But it’s not a very strong marketing plan.
Your book certainly can be mentioned in Oprah’s magazine, even endorsed as a book club pick, but you have better odds playing the Powerball Lottery.
What will work is working. Create a strong marketing plan, reach out to your potential readers and find your future 1,000 fans who will buy your book and help you make it a bestseller in your category — it can work. But calling up Oprah is a long shot, although I would never discourage anyone from trying.
Myths are fun, myths are wonderful to consider and dream, and I encourage you to dream big about your book. But information will save you from watching your dreams dash on the rocks of reality.
There is help easily available. Take advantage of classes, conferences and coaching, and find the right outlet for you and for your book!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catharine Bramkamp is the co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns. She is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back.