Sometimes fear, uncertainty, and doubt get in our way of reaching for our goals. But sometimes the beliefs, thoughts, and information we have around writing are more fallacy than fact. It’s time to clear away the myths so we can reach for what is real.
Six myths I hear all the time:
MYTH #1: I’m not a writer
FACT: The only way to become a writer is to write. The only way to become a good writer is to continue to write. The only way to become a better writer is to write even more.
Are you writing now?
I’m not asking if you’re writing your book, I’m asking if you’re writing. Are you writing a blog, a newsletter, or an end-of-year family letter? Are you writing book reviews, comments on other blogs, paragraphs on Facebook or 140 character statements on Twitter? Then you’re a writer. You just need practice and consistency to get that book written.
Growing up, I struggled to write. It always seemed like I got one of two comments: “expand this idea more” or “simplify and keep it short.” It felt like I could never get it right, and I never understood what they wanted.
I was surrounded by family members who are writers, but I never thought I was a writer. My sister has written and published over 30 books. My husband, who wrote amazingly humorous and engaging meeting reports, also published a book. And now my brother has written and published four children’s fantasy books. I never imagined I’d be a writer.
Until I began to write. I wrote a couple of paragraphs each week for one blog. I wrote monthly for another blog. Over time, my writing improved. Over time, the title of writer crept up on me, until one day I found myself taking on the title of writer with confidence.
But wait! I didn’t have a book out! How could I be a writer?
I was a writer because I wrote. Maybe you reserve the title of writer to those who have written a book. Maybe you require that a publishing house print the book before the author title can be used.
If a painter doesn’t sell his art, is he any less an artist? If a violinist doesn’t make a living playing her music, is she any less a musician? So, if you haven’t published your writings in book form, are you any less a writer?
Start writing. If you haven’t written a word — no blog, no newsletter, no annual here’s what’s happened this year letter, no article — then start writing consistently. Start a blog.
Submit articles to your organization’s newsletter. Or use writing prompts to practice your writing.
If you have a blog or are routinely writing, start writing your book.
If you’ve begun writing your book, but feel stuck or unenthused about continuing, use the following writing prompts to get you writing again today.
Write a letter to your reader and tell them what they’ll learn.
Write a letter from your reader telling you the impact your book or blog had on them.
What challenges are you facing? Can you take your insights and share with your readers?
…more writing prompts.
MYTH #2: I want to traditionally publish so I won’t have to market
FACT: One of the first things a traditional publisher will ask you about is your Author Platform. They’ll ask lots of questions. What social media are you on? How many followers, friends, or connections do you have? Do you have speaking experience? What podcasts have you been a guest on? How many email subscribers do you have?
Unless you’re a famous sports star, actor, or politician, you’re not likely to get even a half page ad for your book in any major publication. The publisher won’t pay your way for a book signing tour. They might send your name and your book’s title to their lists, but they’re not likely to make a lot of effort to get you on podcasts, let alone talk shows.
Traditional publishers want to “partner” with you to market your book, which really means they want to know you can market your own book. Few publishers will even spend time helping you set up your author platform.
There are certainly good reasons to go the traditional publication route, but “not wanting to market your book” is not one of them. Learn more at Publishing: Expectations vs. Reality and dispel those publishing myths.
Author Platform: The structure that allows readers to find you and your books. No two author platforms look alike. A university professor writing their fifth book may write articles for well-known journals, book speaking engagements, and have an author website. A first-time author may have a social media account, goes to weekend fairs to sell books, and has an email list of interested readers.
Resources for building your author platform:
MYTH #3: I’ll make money by writing a book
FACT: If you break even on your first book (income from book sales = expenses from writing, publishing, and marketing the book), you are doing amazingly well.
If money is the only reason you’re considering writing a book, don’t bother. Spend the time working on or in your business doing the things you’re already good at. You’ll make more money that way.
I tracked the hours I spent writing, editing and formatting my last book.
120 hours to write
60 hours for the first round of editing (I did the editing and changes)
60 hours to incorporate the second round of edits (my editor edited and I made the changes)
60 hours to incorporate the third round of edits (my editor edited and I made the changes)
40 hours for final formatting
You would think that the third round of edits would be much shorter than the second round, but it’s not. It’s often easier and quicker to fix a big issue than it is smaller issues, where you can spend 20 minutes deciding between using this word or that word.
It took me 340 hours to write, edit, and format my last book. It’s taking longer for my current book project, and my previous books took about as long.
How much money could you make if you worked those 340 hours? You probably would make more money working half those hours than you would selling your book in the first several years. Which is why, if you’re in it for the money, keep working.
However, if your book is a tool you can use to get more clients, get more speaking gigs, make changes in your business model, or is the first in a series of books you want to write, then, yes, financially it will eventually pay off.
If you just want to write a book because you want to write a book, then I’m jumping up and down and yelling “YAY!! Go for it!” It’s not a question with a financial answer. It’s a desire, a goal, a dream.
Writing a book is a journey. You’ll grow and stretch and complain and stop writing and then start again and grow some more and look at it with a big grin on your face when it’s done.
MYTH #4: I can write a book in 30 days (I saw a course on Google!)
FACT: Sure, it’s possible. Do you have a month free of work, family, friends, grocery shopping, cooking, washing up afterword, and repeating day after day for four weeks straight? Don’t forget, you have to sleep, too.
Technically, if I had been able to write productively for four hours a day, every day for 30 days, then yes, I would have written the first draft in a month. But if you’re fitting your writing into the rest of your life and schedule, 30 days isn’t enough time.
Besides, if you’ve never written for four hours straight, how do you know you can write productively the whole time?
Will every chapter be as easy to write as the previous one? Mine weren’t. Some chapters flew by in a torrent of words and sentences flowing into a cohesive message. Other chapters kicked and fought while I tugged a word out here and there, just to have one sentence to show for it.
Go for the 30-day writing challenges like NaNoWriMo. They’re a great motivational boost. If you write all 30 days, woohoo! If you only write some of the days, then that’s still good.
Here are some stats about NaNoWriMo:
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and runs in November
You don’t have to write a novel. You can write non-fiction.
378, 264 writing goals were set (aka that many people set their writing goals
51,670 writers met their goals (14%)
86% didn’t complete the full 30 days or didn’t reach the number of words set.
My personal track record
Participated 5 times out of 8 years
For the first time, I actually wrote every day for NaNoWriMo 2022.
I still didn’t meet the 50,000 word goal, and I was ecstatic to accomplish what I did.
Take courses on plotting or outlining. You’ll gain skill and get in some practice. Read books on writing. Read books for motivation, for knowledge, for details. These are great tools to help you write.
Most of all, most importantly, WRITE!
But don’t fall for marketing ploys that guarantee you’ll have a book in 30 days. Maybe you are one of those who can write good stories or clear messages quickly. Yay!! Congrats!!! And yes, I’m a bit jealous. But, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
NOTE: No matter how much time it takes you to write your first draft, be sure to put time and money into editing it.
MYTH #5: The world doesn’t need one more book about my topic
FACT: There’s always been someone out there saying that no more books should be written or printed. Well, writers haven’t listened to those self-appointed, opinionated (aka mouthy) individuals. Why let them or their complaints stop you?
There’s room for your book in the world. There’s someone waiting for what you have to say and the way you say it. There’s someone waiting for your message.
NOTE: I tried to find details of an article I read years ago regarding a note uncovered in an ancient trash pile (BCE) that complained that too many “books” were being written. I can’t confirm any details but the concept sticks in my mind — there have always been nay-sayers. So, pursue your idea. Support your dream. Write your book!
MYTH #6: There’s no way I can write a 200-page book (~60,000 words)
FACT: If you can solve you reader’s problem in fewer words, do it! They’ll thank you for saving them time and getting to the point.
Not all books or topics require 60,000 words to solve the reader’s problem.
Enough said. 😉
More publishing myths stopping you?
If you want to check your beliefs around writing and publishing to see if they’re myth or fact, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt out there that might keep you from starting on the journey to writing your book or delay you along the way.
Keep WRITING until you find a way through the myth!
You are a writer if you are writing. WRITE!
You will have to find a way to market your book regardless of your publication path.
If you’re in it for the money, keep working.
Don't expect to finish writing your book in 30 days unless you've done it before.
There is someone who needs your book.
The message is as long as it needs to be. And no longer.
When you're ready... 2 ways to move forward on your book journey:
Subscribe to The Organized Pen. Get the tips, tools and strategies you need for your writing journey. ✍ Sign up for The Organized Pen.
Let's talk about your book. I offer a 50-minute complimentary consultation to discuss your book, determine if I can be a great team member on your book journey, and identify your next steps, whether I'm part of the journey or not. 📅 Schedule a time to talk about your book.
*FYI: I do receive $ from Amazon when you click on product links and purchase items from Amazon. I don’t know what you look at or buy and so far I’ve been able to buy, on average,3 cups of coffee each year from the income.