Writers are not immune to falling for someone’s lies. We’re as gullible as the next guy, and believing an untruth can really hold us back in our creative endeavors. After all, us authors are the Kings and Queens of Procrastination. Give us a reason, a worry, a niggling nag to keep us up at night, and we’ll put off writing that Next American Novel until the cows come home. So …
What are the lies you might believe?
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Lie #1: Writing is a Full-Time Job
It can be, and it’d be nicer that way most likely, but very few writers have the luxury of finding 40 hours per week in which to write.
TRUTH #1: You Can Write A Book in Your Free Time
Don’t come crying to me about how you have no free time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. If you watch television, go to the salon, shop, meal plan, walk your dog, go to the gym, take care of your yard, whatever floats your boat and makes your world go ’round, then you can also find time to write.
It’s not rocket science. Do you have a lunch break at work? Use it to write.
Are you a night owl? Write at night.
Do your kids go to a sports practice a couple evenings a week? Use that time to write.
Do you have nappers during the day? Write.
Could you get up an hour earlier? Do it.
Successful authors have written entire books while:
- Nursing a newborn
- Homeschooling their kids
- Working a full-time job
- Going to school
- Running a home business
- Being a parent
- Being a spouse
If your list of excuses is a mile long, then you simply don’t want to badly enough (and that’s perfectly fine. Don’t beat yourself up. If you have the writing bug, it’ll keep pestering you until the excuses stop one day).
Stop coming up with reasons why you can’t, and list the reasons why you can.
Lie #2: If My First Book Didn’t Make It, I Should Quit
Writing that book baby took months or years from your life, that you’ll never get back. Finding little to no success can be a crushing defeat.
It’s hard to dedicate yourself to something when no one gives a damn, isn’t it?
TRUTH #2: Readers Want More
Readers want authors who write, like, a lot. They want lots of books and lots of words, your words. Keep going, keep typing, keep it up.
With each newly published work, you’ll find a new audience, even if it’s only a small handful. And with each small handful – you got it – your collection of dedicated readers grows. It grows as long and as fast as you can write.
Lie #3: Stick to one genre
Like all of these “lies,” this one is debatable I suppose, and subject to opinion. Sure, most best-selling authors stick to their one genre, but rules are made to be broken.
It might make it easier to “find your audience” if your works are all nicely compacted into the same shelf at Barnes and Noble, but perhaps spreading yourself around makes even more sense.
TRUTH #3: Plenty of famous authors write in several genres
Let’s look at a few, shall we?
Mary Stewart. One of my most favorite story-tellers of all time, Stewart is known for both her romantic thrillers and her epic saga of Camelot. Not exactly even kinda similar. Find Mary Stewart books >>
C.S. Lewis. With more books under his belt than I have socks, Lewis didn’t always stick to his non-fiction Christian theology books. He also wrote fiction for children (the Chronicles of Narnia), and a space fantasy trilogy. Find C.S. Lewis books >>
Joan Aiken. Probably best known for her children’s fiction like The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, she also wrote an impressive amount of adult Regency Romance novels. Find Nora Roberts books >>
Neil Gaiman. Maybe you’ve only read his fantasy, but he also dabbles (okay, more than just dabbles) in graphic comics, kid’s books, plays, short stories, and even poetry. Find J.K. Rowling books >>
Joyce Carol Oates. Historical, mystery, theater, memoirs, children’s literature … she does it all. Find Joyce Carol Oates books >>
Stephen King. Sure, you know him for his scary horror stories, but he’s also written plenty of tamer mysteries, science fiction, and much more. Find Stephen King books >>
Lie #4: You have to spend a lot of money to publish a book
You could, sure, but you don’t have to, if you come up with a plan and surround yourself with talented people. I collect talented people like some humans collect stamps.
I find them oh-so useful.
TRUTH #4: You can write and publish your book for as little as you’d like (including completely free)
If you’re mildly tech-savvy, self-publishing isn’t as hard as you think.
You’ve already done the hard work (writing your book baby), so now it’s time to buckle down to the nitty-gritty of the backstage stuff. Copy editing, proofing, cover art, and marketing … find your talented people for the areas you need help.
You can spend a little, a lot, or nothing at all, as long as you pace yourself, know your limits, ask for help, set deadlines, and keep your headspace open to learning new tasks. You might even discover that you like these areas more than actually writing!
I mean, I sure don’t, but to each his own.
Now that we know the truth, where do we go from here?
If you’re inspired to throw those lies (and any others you might believe) to the curb, let me be the first to congratulate you. And may I say,
Can I be the first to read your book?