5 Damaging Beliefs Writers Should Overcome

5 Lies Writers Believe That Are Holding Them Back

5 Damaging Beliefs Writers Should Overcome PinterestThere are many lies writers believe that hold them back. When you think about it, this is kind of ironic. After all, aren’t stories stories lies that serve to tell the truth?

I think the reason most writers get a perverse chuckle out of that last idea is because, as humans, we are hard-wired to have a complicated relationship with truth. We crave, we need it, sometimes we even want it. But like those green beans I was supposed to eat when I was four and instead shrewdly dropped under my brother’s chair, we also exercise an incredible amount of creativity in avoiding the truth—and then denying we’re avoiding it.

This is exactly why stories are such a sneaky and effective way of sharing truths. We mesmerize readers with entertaining fictions until they don’t even realize we’re doing that mom trick of sneaking the greens into the strawberry smoothie.

But actually it goes deeper than that. After all, it’s not like getting “writer” stamped on our foreheads has somehow magically made us wiser and more truthful than all those poor schmoes who only know how to read stories. The real magic is that sometimes, when we’re writing, we don’t even know we’re getting past our own defenses to by “lying” our way to truths we otherwise do our best to ignore.

These are the good kind of lies. These are the lies we writers get to be proud of telling.

But there are other kinds of lies. These are the lies writers believe and which we, like every other person on the planet, cling to out of some misguided sense of self-preservation.

And they’re holding us back.

The Lie You Believe vs. the Truth You Need

Good stories are faithful reflections of reality. So it shouldn’t have surprised me (although it kinda did) that in learning how to recognize the powerful patterns in good character arcs, I also started seeing those patterns in my own life.

Character arcs are built around the relationship between a thematic Truth and an opposing Lie believed by certain of the characters.

In a Positive Change Arc, the character starts out clinging to a Lie (without, of course, acknowledging it is a Lie) because she believes this Lie protects or provides for her. It is only over the course of the story that she begins to realize this Lie is, in fact, holding her back. The journey to accepting and living the Truth is never easy (otherwise, she wouldn’t have fought against it so hard), but it is always a necessary step toward empowerment, freedom, and health.

In most Negative Change Arcs, the character resists the Truth (aka, refuses to eat the green beans) and as a result of his crippling reliance on the Lie ends up in a worse place, morally and/or physically, than that in which he started (aka, frames little brother for not eating the beans and grows up with the rickets or something).

The one exception is the negative arc I call the Disillusionment Arc. In all respects, the Disillusionment Arc is just like the Positive Change Arc, except the Truth the character finally learns to accept is not an immediately positive Truth. In a Positive Change Arc, she might learn “the world is shaped by love,” while in a Disillusionment Arc, she might have to face the equally potent reality that “the world is shaped by violence.” It’s important to realize the Disillusionment Arc is just as viable and important as the Positive Change Arc, since avoiding negative Truths is ultimately just as unhealthy and self-defeating as avoiding positive ones.

And, finally, in a Flat Arc, the protagonist already understands and accepts the story’s central thematic Truth. Thanks to his personal maturity and wisdom in this area (which, presumably, is the result of previous Positive Change Arcs in his life), he is able to use that Truth to help others around him overcome their own Lies.

In real life, we all experience every single one of these arcs. Unlike a book, in which one central arc defines the protagonist, our lives are a complex, ever-shifting evolution from arc to arc to arc—and, often, multiple arcs at the same time. Whatever our personal hang-ups, I think we all instinctively understand we need to be moving toward Truth. We struggle through Positive Change Arcs toward liberation. We get stuck—hopefully, only temporarily—in Negative Change Arcs. We grieve over our Disillusionment Arcs. And when we’ve emerged victoriously, we stand upon our mountaintops of hard-fought Truth and walk confidently through Flat Arcs that allow us to encourage positive change in the world around us.

5 Lies Writers Believe

We all share in the journey of overcoming the Lies we believe, unhitching them from the emotional baggage that motivates them, and moving toward the often scary but always peace-giving and life-affirming Truths. And yet each journey is deeply unique and intimate to each person.

Although we won’t all face the same Lies, there are many, many Lies so prevalent that most of us can relate to them. These begin with the big life Lies that are rooted in primal desires for love, safety, and validation—and the instinctive, if ultimately counterproductive, survival mechanisms we enact defensively out of fear that we won’t get them.

These Lies are heavy. It can take years, perhaps even lifetimes, for us to peel back the many layers of Lies before we get down to their cores. But along the way, there are many “smaller” Lies, which although (arguably) easier to overcome are just as potentially damaging. Here are five lies writers believe that I hear all the time—all of which I believed in at one point before fighting through to better Truths.

Lies Writers Believe #1: Being a Writer Should Be Easy

Entry Truth: It Ain’t Easy.
Ultimate Truth: Writing Is a High-Level Skill Set.

Many would-be writers enter storytelling through the door marked “Fun.” Just as many of these would-be writers exit right back out through the same door.

Writing—I mean really writingis a deeply complex art form. Doing it well requires from its author the ability to master such widely ranging subjects as philosophy and even psychology (because what else is story theory?), dramatic structure, a thousand different prose techniques, and not least of all David McCullough’s art of “thinking clearly.”

Accepting that writing should be challenging eliminates our ability to defend our inherent human laziness and dares us to become more than we ever dreamed we could.

Lies Writers Believe #2: Being a Writer Is Too Hard

Entry Truth: Writing Is Not for Lazy People.
Ultimate Truth: Writing Is Rewarding and Important Exactly Because It Is Hard.

Other writers (or sometimes the same writers) stick around to lament the high bar of storytelling’s difficulty level. We want writing stories to be as fun, easy, and instantly gratifying as reading or watching them. But it’s not, never has been, never will be. Oh yes, it’s fun—it’s rewarding—it’s sublimely empowering and enlightening.

But I say thank God that’s not all it is. Thank God writing isn’t a fun little game we can master in an afternoon. Indeed, the very worth of stories is found in all the things that make them tricky to write. It is the difficulty inherent in every new book we write that gives each of us the precious and irreplaceable gifts of growth.

Lies Writers Believe #3: You Need Someone to Show You How to Be a Writer

Entry Truth: No, You Don’t.
Ultimate Truth: Learning From Others Is a Self-Motivated Process Completely Different From Expecting Others to Magically Transfer to You Their Knowledge and Experience.

Sometimes people ask me, “Can you help me be a writer?”

This is a tricky one to answer. It’s one of those “yes and no” scenarios. Can I share with you what I’ve learned from my own experiences as a writer, just as others have shared with me in their turn? Yes.

But can I give you the keys to the kingdom? No. I can only show you where the door is. Writing is ultimately a journey of self-growth. No one can take that journey for you. No one can hold your hand along the way. And they certainly can’t give you a piggy-back ride. We can cheer you on from the sidelines, but that’s it.

All the information and encouragement in the world won’t give you the secret formula to being a writer. You have to eat that information, digest it, and transform it into your own personal brand of creative energy. You won’t understand story structure until you make it yours. You won’t find a comfortable writing process until you create your own. And you won’t write worthwhile stories unless you’re writing your stories, up from the deepest depths of yourself.

Lies Writers Believe #4: You Don’t Have Anything Worth Saying and/or Will Never Say It Well Enough

Entry Truth: If You Believe That, Stop Writing Right Now.
Ultimate Truth: You Are Alive, Therefore Your Experience Is Valuable; You Are Writing About Your Experience, Therefore You Believe You Have Something Worth Saying; You Are Persevering, Therefore You Will Learn to Say It Better.

This Lie is a masquerade. Writers don’t actually believe they have nothing to say. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be saying it. Rather, what they believe is that they need the validation of the others to put the stamp of approval on what they’re saying.

There is a certain measure of practical truth to this. After all, if you want to be published, you’re going to need someone’s approval somewhere along the way.

But instead of falling into the slough of self-pity (a sure sign you’re in denial about a Lie of some kind), acknowledge these two truths:

1. On a personal level, you need no one’s validation. Recognize your own inherent self-worth and by extension the worth of your writing.

2. If you recognize the practical need for someone else’s validation at some point in your journey toward a specific end goal (e.g., publication), then realize that whining and feeling sorry for yourself will not help you make the necessary changes to gain that validation.

Lies Writers Believe #5: Where You Are Today Defines Your Success

Entry Truth: Your Journey Isn’t Over.
Ultimate Truth: You Can’t Judge Your Story’s Ending by Its First and Second Acts.

At any given moment in your life, it is so easy to look up, look around, realize you aren’t anywhere close to where you want to be, and start feeling like an unmitigated failure.

But your story isn’t over.

Just take a look at whatever fix your characters find themselves stuck in at this very moment in your work-in-progress. Doesn’t look too good for them either, does it? But you, as their author, know their story isn’t over. They’re not even close to the ending yet; they will not be judged by the mistakes they’re making in the middle.

And neither should you judge yourself. Keep writing, keep living.

With a dedication to overcoming your Lies and pursuing your Truths, you can trust the story of your own life will roll to an ending better than you can even imagine right now.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What do you think are some lies writers believe that hold them back? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

Sign Up Today

hwba sidebar pic

Sign up to receive K.M. Weiland’s monthly e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.

About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. I will share my lie with you. I don’t have time to write. There I’ve said it! However I do have time to take my daughter to school by train every day. I have time to take her to dance lessons and wait for her. I also have time to clean windows. ….. oh and I have time to read a good book, I also have time to respond to this excellent post. …..but writing nah, I just can’t fit it in. It’s so frustrating.

    P.S. I’m British, we thrive on sarcasm.

    • Kerry, this is a great one! I totally agree. I don’t have time to write…but I have time for social media, or reading the news on my phone, or playing Clash of Clans, or watching Netflix. It seems like “I don’t have time” almost ALWAYS means I don’t make writing a priority. There’s almost always something you could replace with writing, even if sometimes the choice is hard—spending less time with friends, less time outdoors—or really hard (perhaps even problematic), like spending less time with children and partners. Many great authors have sacrificed other important parts of their lives for their writing. Didn’t Raymond Carver sit in his driveway for hours, typing on his typewriter, to escape his kids? I’m not saying this is the way to go, but there’s certainly some middle road. 🙂

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

        I catch myself saying this sometimes too. What “I don’t have time” almost always means is “I’m not making time.” This is one reason I try to prioritize my day to make sure the important stuff happens first before the excuses really start kicking in.

    • Guilty!!! This is my big one too! 🙂 I am getting a bit better on battling it lately though – means I have started to put my writing higher up on the daily to-do-lists … and if I don’t manage, at least I am honest about it (on some days…).

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

        Honesty is good. It’s the first step toward everything–or so I believe. 😉

    • Oh, British aren’t the only ones who thrive on sarcasm! (Hint hint, I do.)

    • This is me all over! Here I am reading a blog instead of writing…

  2. *gulps* Ouch. I’ve conquered about half of these. The rest… I’m in the process. 😛
    Another one I’ve seen in a lot of beginners (and not-so-beginners, myself included) is ‘If I’m not as good as such and such a famous writer/poet/director I’m not any good at all’.
    Entry truth: There will always be someone ‘better’ than you.
    Ultimate truth: Jealousy didn’t stop you from starting to write; it shouldn’t stop you from going forward. You’re not competing with colleagues, you’re worshiping and adoring the God who made you. ‘Better’ doesn’t matter to Him.

    • Yolanda says:

      Yes!!! Your Ultimate Truth: All the yesses!!!

    • I was stopped early from believing that one, and Lie #5, by my high school history teacher. She moonlighted as an actress, and she turned our world history class into art history as well — the architecture of Chartres and other cathedrals were just as important to learn about as the Mohenjo-daro.

      One of my classmates was an artist, and the teacher wanted to use one of his drawings as the cover of the next year’s student handbook. She related that he was dismayed by the idea because the drawing was “The best I’ve ever done!”

      She told us that she explained to him, “You really think this is the best you’ll ever do? You’re fourteen! If you keep working on your craft, you’re going to get even better than this. This drawing is the best you’ve done with the skill you have now at this point in your life. But in a few years, this drawing isn’t going to be your best work. You think da Vinci started with the Mona Lisa? He worked up to it. This drawing is not your Mona Lisa, either.”

      I kept that handbook as a souvenir, but I also carried the teacher’s little lecture with me over the years. I don’t despair at the skill of greater writers; my favorite books from them are the equivalent of the Mona Lisas I’m working up to.

      If you’re an artist, you don’t despair that you’ll never create Mona Lisa; instead you study da Vinci’s use of the Golden Ratio in scene composition, or his brush work, etc.

      If you’re a writer, don’t worry about not writing mysteries as well as Agatha Christie. Instead, study how she sets up red herrings, or puts clues in plain sight. Study your heroes and how they did things, and you may just get there. Your heroes started with your current skill level, so why shouldn’t you be able to work up to their skill level?

      Oh, and the “someone is always going to be better” is great to keep in mind, too. It keeps you from believing you have nothing left to learn, which leads to self-indulgence and stagnation.

      • What an excellent and thought-provoking post. The illustration shows the power of concrete examples to make the point.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      This is perfect. I think this “entry” truth is a great one to tell ourselves regularly. We’ll never be THE SINGLE BEST GREATEST WRITER WHO EVER LIVED. If that’s what we’re striving for, consciously or unconsciously, we’re just setting ourselves up for disappointment and failure.

    • Jon Spell says:

      Along the same lines, “I just finished my first draft, and there’s no way it can be published. I must suck at writing.”

      And then I hear about how many revisions great authors do and I try to tell myself, this is just a stepping stone to something better, more polished.

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

        Yes, no one turns out magic on the first try. It isn’t magic at all. Just study and application.

  3. Great list! I will definitely share these.

    I think #3 is complicated. Yes, people need to find their own way. And I can’t agree more strongly that “you won’t write worthwhile stories unless you’re writing your stories, up from the deepest depths of yourself.” BUT I think there’s a converse myth: “I don’t need any help. I don’t have anything to learn from anyone else.” It goes along with the “I don’t read other people’s stories because I don’t want to be influenced” myth. I really believe that all good writing needs some kind of outside pressure—a teacher, a mentor, a good reader, a workshop, a writing group—placed upon it so that you don’t make the same elementary mistakes over and over. In the same way that a soccer player, a ballet dancer, and a pianist—no matter how talented—need coaches to keep them progressing, a writer needs some form of coaching.

    Reading good craft books on structure or outlining is another way of getting coaching. 🙂

    • Scribalist says:

      From what I understand, writers can benefit immensely from collaboration as well, especially those in the Dramatica camp, which, by the theory, the act of group writing becomes more enlightening than frustrating.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Spot on. If I were to rewrite the article right now, I’d include this Lie as well. What’s important either way is realizing that writing is an art from that requires the discipline to study and apply certain theories and techniques.

  4. Absolute gold! Thank you for stirring the motivation to get into the writer’s chair today. Too often I fall for the lie that this should be easy, or that it should get easier with every story. Truth is, some parts get easier, but by then you’ve learned enough to recognize another layer of challenges. You’re right, though—I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yes, my experience has definitely been that understanding story theory gets easier. But the writing itself is always a new adventure with every new book.

  5. Lies I’ve told myself.
    At age ten I read Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology,” and I wanted to be a writer. I told my self I have to grow up first.
    At age twelve I wrote my first poem, and a nun put it to music. She played it at a gathering of the congregation and gave me credit for the words. My friends shunned me because “Only faggots write poetry.”
    I lied and told myself they were right, and I didn’t write another poem until twenty years later.
    At twenty-one, I left the military. I lied to myself and said, “Now I can be a writer.” I married and got a “real” job instead.
    There were other periods in my life when I tried to write, but there were children to raise, and other roads to travel.
    At age 67 I told a good friend that I always wanted to write a book. I complained to her saying that I was too old to start and didn’t know what people wanted to read.
    My friend said, “You are never too old to try. Don’t write what you think people want to read or to become rich. Write to give voice to the characters running around in your head.”
    At age 68, I finished the book that had been taking up room in my head for more than 40 years. My friend passed before she could read it.
    I lied to myself and said, “There you’ve done it, now you can get on with your life.”
    Now here I am at 73, nine books, dozens of short stories, and many poems later. I’m still writing and giving voice to the people running around in my head.
    The truth is it’s never too late to pursue your dream.

  6. Scribalist says:

    For the first and second truths, it is a matter of quality vs quantity. A very patient and motivated person who has read many books and has self-esteem can freewrite forever without any deliberate consideration of style or structure, I imagine. But if they find themselves wanting to spin that raw, loose material into gold, they are going to struggle at least a little with the process before success. A person like this who has read a bit on the craft itself could quickly become successful.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Agreed. If all you want to do is write for fun, then writing can be very fun. It’s only when you start imposing discipline on the art form that you also have to start imposing that discipline on yourself.

  7. So very true! The big lie that I have fought is the myth of talent: a talented writer will naturally produce good writing, and an untalented writer can’t. This makes it impossible to write anything, because if it’s bad (as it almost certainly will be, at first), it will be “proof” that one doesn’t have talent. For naturally confident people, I guess it could play out the other way — certainty that whatever one writes must be good. So, there you have the first two lies on the list.

    I do think natural abilities are real, but there’s no one “writing genius” gift that you either have or don’t have. All of us are capable of writing badly, and having written one bad story (or many) is no proof whatsoever that someone can’t write a good one, even a great one.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Talent is useful. But even if we start out with that in our back pockets, our first attempts are usually pretty dismal. Discipline is the secret sauce.

    • The talent thing has kept me back my whole life. I never believed I was talented at anything. Now at age 41, I finally realized I do have a talent, and it’s actually more of a superpower. It’s curiosity. Insatiable, powerful, raw curiosity. I’ve just never allowed my curiosity to take me to the places I’ve wanted to go.

      • Inspiring! I believe drive is more important than anything else — without it, ability is sterile. With it, we make the most of what we have and can create something great.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

          Hear, hear. Dorothy Parker said, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. For curiosity, there is no cure.”

  8. Ms. Albina says:

    Great article, I am rewriting Lotus’s story as a love story and also that Lina has an arranged marriage and that her mom’s book when not a goddess that her cousin Gina gets kidnapped and her sister gets married. I love to write. I am a writer, but sometimes a get writer’s block and also that I have many ideas in my head and change my mind of what to write.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Getting blocked is natural. It just means there’s a question somewhere in your head that is looking for an answer.

  9. When you talk of character arcs I think of some of the more complex books I have read. In then all of the arcs are presented and then welded into a lesson and philosophy constructed from each–and from all.

    I am a poet and I early came to realize that Shakespeare and even Frost would probably always be above my level. While learning this I developed my own voice and a philosophy of not making the reader guess too hard about what the poem meant. The denotation is on top and evident and the connotation is there, but more misty and up for interpretation.

    I hope each writer can come to the realization that it is not a contest. It is the challenge of becoming the best me. Then striving to make that best improve.

    My bugaboo is having too much faith in the muse. Lassitude allows me to wait until something hits as a good starting point. My scheduled time to write has yet to be established, though I seem to do best just as I should be turning in for the night.

    Of course all this works because I am a dilettante. Not that I don’t try new things or look closely at other’s work. It is just that I am not goal set on public acclaim or making a living at writing. The process, growth, and self-publication fits my needs quite well.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      “I hope each writer can come to the realization that it is not a contest. It is the challenge of becoming the best me. Then striving to make that best improve.”

      Hear, hear. I couldn’t agree with this more.

  10. Oh, dear, so many truths in that lies’.
    My personal main lie is that I’m not inspired or that I’m waiting for my muse/inspiration, whatever to strike again and write for me. Oh and second it that I can’t write! (despite so many facts to contrary and that I know I can!)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Something I’ve discovered in addressing personal lies is that if something keeps cropping up, even after you’ve logically dispelled it, it’s usually sign that that there’s another underlying lie causing the emotional fixation. Dig a little deeper on why you’re struggling with “I can’t write” and you may find some clearer answers. 🙂

  11. Michael says:

    Katie, that is some very deep stuff you are touching on, and I’m talking about the section before the 5 lies. I almost forgot I was reading about writing. Very interesting.
    I absolutely believe in engaging with and challenging lies in every area of our lives, including our writing. I think that for me, believing that I have something to offer and that it is worth making the time to write was an important journey. I wanted to write since I was a young boy. I remember telling a teacher that I was going to write a huge story and I started gathering paper and numbering them because it was going to be so big and extensive. But, I didn’t pursue it, yet I saw story everywhere I went. I think that it is easy to believe a lie when so many people believe it as well, which is a challenge that many in creative fields have to overcome at some point

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Yes, this was a journey I had to go on as well. I think it’s extremely healthy to question why we’re writing and whether it’s worth our time. I think the answer will almost always be yes, but it’s awesome to have a conscious understanding of why it’s a yes.

  12. K.M.: I love your bit about writers seeing themselves as protagonists, since that’s what we do all day — drag our heroes into quagmires where they become utterly disillusioned with everything they’ve ever believed in — so why don’t we see ourselves/ our own journeys in the same way — as tests of our heroism. Thanks, as always.

  13. Again, an incredible, thought-provoking post. Thank you!!

  14. Thank you for this. I think you’re right -we go through our own story-arcs all the time! One of the lies that I’ve been trying to fight is not quite the `don’t have time’ but close; it’s the lie that if I don’t write first thing in the morning, before breakfast, my entire day is shot and I may as well just give up until tomorrow. That’s not true, sometimes I can still salvage a bit of time later, but if I let myself believe it I won’t actually try to.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I relate to this a lot. I’m a compulsively organized, scheduled person. I’m learning that I actually have surprisingly limited energy in the actual world, which is why I spend my more “unlimited” mental energy on lots and lots of planning so I can get as much as done as quickly and efficiently as possible. When my plans go astray, it can be incredibly hard to get things back on track.

  15. savannahmorello says:

    Thanks! This is great advice!

  16. Tony Findora says:

    I definitely needed this post! I get discouraged sometimes, letting doubt creep in. I need to be realistic and realize that while it may not be perfect, i can certai ly learn and writr better. And there are things to that help encourage me. Knowing there is an audience of people interested to know the book is a huge plus!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I think we’re all in search of some mythical idea of certainty–about life itself and everything in it. It’s in letting go of that we learn to appreciate the uncertainty of where we’re at.

  17. My lie was, “Oh, so many other people do it. Writing shouldn’t be TOO hard, right? Right?”

    Notice I said “Was.”

    I quickly learned the truth. XD

    Sometimes… I don’t think it’s the “Writing is too hard” lie, but I’ll read Madison Grace’s writing posts and be like…

    Lord help, I know NOTHING.

    That’s not really so much a lie as it is a struggle. See, I like things easy. I dream big, but the minute it gets difficult, I’m like, Ugh why did I do this. So when I see all of that, I get that feeling. But just like with my music, I couldn’t possibly quit. I know for a fact it’s one of my talents, and we’re supposed to use all of our talents for the Lord, so to bury it in the ground means to sin against God. That’s why I’m binge-reading your blog right now XD

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      You know what they say–admitting your problem is halfway to solving it. 🙂 We all struggle. But another saying I like: “The struggle is the glory.”

  18. You put your finger on the thoughts I struggle with. Really just a great post. Thanks!

  19. David Franklin says:

    Thanks KM, such a good post. I can definitely identify with all those lies!
    But the one that held me back the longest was “I just need to learn a bit more about this skill/tool”.
    One absolutely has to go on learning, honing one’s skills. But when that becomes a form of procrastination, it’s a LIE.
    Write today. Learn something. Apply it in the next day’s writing. Rinse and repeat.

    It brings to mind something I read about the American army developing a new missile launcher, and then developing a new weapons guidance system, and a new vehicle to serve as a launching platform. Millions of dollars and several years later, they still hadn’t gotten it into the field. They sold the missile launcher to the Israelis, who stuck it on a WWII-era Jeep and got it into the field in a matter of months!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Good one. I always say that gut instinct is the writer’s greatest weapon. Usually, I mean this in the sense of knowing what’s wrong with a story. But it works for knowing *when* it’s time to write the story as well. Ultimately, it’s really just about being honest with ourselves about our motives.

    • Oh boy I think you hit on one of my big lies right here. I’m a compulsive student, always thinking i’ve Got more to learn before I’m able to implement.

      Superb post Katie.

  20. Yet another inspirational post, Katie. I’ve been struggling to put in regular time on my WIP lately and looking at some of those lies is proving to be just the motivation I needed to get back to it.

    I love how you connect lessons about writing to lessons about life. If you ever wrote a memoir about the parallels you’ve found between writing and life, I’d read it! 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      That’s definitely been a thought. Actually, I was mulling on doing a book about life lessons, decided I wasn’t ready to tackle it, and have been drawing post ideas from its proposed TOC. There’ll be more to come!

  21. I can definitely relate to all of these, I learned lie number one the hard way, I remember suddenly branding myself a writer and setting off into happy ever after land, well you can tell how that went. I am still definitely a victim of lies 2, and 4, although I must say that 3 is a little bit complicated, as I believe one requires some form of mentoring or guidance. Writing is an art, one must discover his or her own flow and Chi, not necessarily expecting an impartation of the gift by some magical means NO,but maybe some game changing secrets will do… Its kind of complicated for me.
    Number 4 is most certainly my biggest challenge till date, the feeling that I would be laughed off and told to pick another field of endeavor.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Just recognizing that they’re lies–and that they’re complicated–is a step towards overcoming them.

  22. Great blog! I think the biggest lie I tell myself is I’m not good enough, and yes it is a lot harder than I thought 🙂

  23. Lie #4 consumed my life for twenty-five years after a devastating experience in a college writing workshop. Not until my mid-forties did I try again. As Anais Nin said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

    With the encouragement of a lovely and talented writer, I began to share my stories in a safe (no criticism) environment–and to my amazement, people loved them. After several years of writing for this group, I decided it was time to try writing for a wider audience. Now, thirty-eight years after that devastating college experience, I’ve published several short stories, completed a novel and a novella, and am simultaneously learning the business of writing, search for an agent, submitting them to competitions–and figuring out how to re-conquer the demon lie again as I consider my next book.

    Because as it turns out, you don’t conquer these lies once and for all. (I don’t, anyway.) Lies are like viruses that may go dormant for a time, but never quite leave. The fact that editors have paid money for my stories, and readers as well as editors have said wonderful things about them, seems as if it should be enough to kill the beast, but it’s not. I’m coming to accept the fact that this wound will never heal completely (to mix my metaphors quite thoroughly), and the only thing to do is to remind myself, again and again, that it’s a lie and is not to be trusted or believed.

  24. I go for Lies 1, 2, 3, and 5. Thanks for outing them Katie!
    I have another one, a set of twins actually:
    “You can’t let anyone read it until it’s right”, and it’s evil twin, “You’ll never get it right”.

  25. I had to laugh at myself while reading this post. While applying a characters goals, wants and lies I realised my own story arc.
    I aspire to be published, I want recognition and the lie is that it will somehow magically improve my life and make me feel complete.
    Yet I come full circle when I realised I’m never going to stop writing, I’m determined and I will persevere. And so I I validated my own self worth. 😊

Trackbacks

  1. […] 5 Lies Writers Believe That Are Holding Them Back […]

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.