1. Oldmanofthemountain

    Oldmanofthemountain Active Member

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    What are some major misconceptions that amateurs have about writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Oldmanofthemountain, Jun 24, 2020.

    What are some commonly held myths and misconceptions about professional writing that needs to be dispelled?
     
  2. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Swaggin like a Baggins Contributor

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    That you have to be published to be a writer. I think that's the biggest one for me. Some people write for themselves, and that's more than okay.

    Edit: I just realized the question was for professional writing, so my answer is kind of irrelevant. I think it's important to write for ourselves first before we try to publish? Does that save my answer?
     
  3. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    Pretty much all of it. That this is easy. That you can be successful just by wanting to be. That you can learn to write without reading. That you can learn to write by watching videos on YouTube. That you can learn to write doing anything except writing a lot for years on end. That anyone is obligated to treat you like a snowflake because your skin is so thin that it's nearly splitting. That it's more important to treat writers with kid gloves than to be honest.

    The list goes on and on and on.
     
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  4. Foxxx

    Foxxx Knight of Faith Contributor

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    I'll be world famous and world-renowned!*

    I have a great understanding of redundancy!

    I'll change the whole world!*

    *by writing one singular piece! First draft, too!
     
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  5. Oldmanofthemountain

    Oldmanofthemountain Active Member

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    Sure, that perfectly answers my question. Thanks.
     
  6. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    In fairness, you're asking a group mostly comprised of amateurs to answer a pro question, but if you listen to said pros, there are several semi-universal answers, my favorite being that your first draft will be shit no matter how good you are. Even Stephen King won't let Tabitha read his first drafts. Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft. Anne Lamott harps on the fact that publishing your first novel will not change your life the way you think it will, if at all. I find that one depressing. Another major misconception is the idea that writing should come naturally to those with a talent for it. Nope. You have to practice and hone your craft. Almost no one ever starts and finishes their first novel with no short stories in the can and takes the world by storm. It just doesn't happen. Your favorite author likely wrote a dozen short stories and a crap novel before their first salable work.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
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  7. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

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    To be honest, I think it's important for noobs to think they're better than they are. If they knew how bad they were, they'd give up.

    *flashbacks to high school poetry*
     
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  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    This reminds me of something from another thread—a writer and a brain surgeon are sitting side by side on a flight and get to talking. The brain surgeon, when he finds out his seat-mate is a writer, says "Oh, I'm thinking of taking up writing when I retire." To which the writer, resisting the impulse to roll his eyes, responds "Yeah, I'm going to take up brain surgery when I retire. Sounds like fun."
     
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  9. More

    More Active Member

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    I believe a lot of amateurs think , you just need to get published and you can retire to your writing room and become a full time writer . It can happen,but most writers have other jobs to earn a reasonable living. A lot of amateur writers believe their writing doesn't need to conform to all the know conventions that make a book a saleable book .
     
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  10. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    That getting published instantly makes you rich.

    Oops, sorry @More, I just noticed you’ve said essentially the same thing in your own post.
     
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  11. Lazaares

    Lazaares Senior Member

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    I always had this dream about fiction writing making the big bucks and people getting rich from their novel & brilliant fantasy stories.

    When I actually tried to earn $$$ with writing I had to realise that the true dosh comes from cracked articles and from travel blog post; and fantasy is somewhere down at the very end of the line way behind "romance" and "supernatural horror".
     
  12. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    • That it will flow from your pen like liquid gold, and if it doesn't do so on the first go, then it's not meant for you.
    • That you'll find some arcane groove that transports you to a magical land that guides your pen to further feats of majestic prose.
    • That editing is only for minor typos and flubs; the original prose, sacred and holy from the inner sanctum of your mental temple, must remain untouched for these are the gifts of your inner god.
    • Or that characters are a kind of temporary dissociative identity disorder where they inhabit little parts of your mind and whisper naughty secrets to you if you serve them tea and scones in the back garden.

    No one ever wants to admit to spending over an hour deciding over a comma... more than once... in the exact same sentence.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
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  13. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    ,
    Bin there dun that! But in fairness this is very much a flaw of the amateur writer, rather than something they they have to accept is part of writing.
     
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  14. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Writing is work, and all aspects are not always enjoyable.
    Completing a quality work takes time, focus and effort, and repeated sacrifice. Sacrifice being, writing/editing/revising/researching, etc. instead of doing something more 'fun' like watching a movie or going out with friends.
     
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  15. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Now we have Grammarly to do it for us!
     
  16. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    "Darling, it's research for my novel."
    "I have a headache."
     
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  17. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    And all this is precisely why I jacked it in.
     
  18. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    And unfortunately, there are a lot of people who should give up. That's an idea that's hated in writer's circles, that if you dare suggest that some people just aren't good at this, that somehow it might be true of yourself, but the best idea here is to be honest. Lots of people can get better with an application of hard work, but lots of people aren't willing to put in the effort or the time to develop their craft. If you're not, then give up. This is not the hobby or job for you. Just having a dream doesn't mean that you're going to make that dream a reality. Be honest. It's why writer's forums are filled to the brim with people who have no skill, who can't finish a first draft and are desperately trying to write by committee. They're just not cut out for this. They're not getting any better. Maybe they need to look for something else to do.
     
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  19. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    That’s a ridiculous statement. Not wanting to put the work in doesn’t mean the ability and/or skill isn’t there. I gave up writing, not because I didn’t think I had the skill but because I couldn’t be arsed putting the work in. No one should ever be told they’re not good enough. That’s what the arse’ole teachers at school used to do, very often to pupils who went on to earn more money / fame than they (the teacher) could ever dream of.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  20. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I'm a creative writer. A working professional, if you want to call it that. The rejections don't stop when you start selling your work to great places. And even a big check wouldn't be that much if you broke it down to an hourly rate based on what you've put in. I have a friend who is holding out for a big advance for his novel. He want's $100k. He's got an agent and he's won some pretty impressive writing things. He says he put ten years into his novel and he knows what's it's worth. He's got an agent onboard with this. The novel is a stunning piece of work. I don't know if he'll get that sort of advance. It's not a daydream for him. This is real and he is a professional. Maybe I should mention that he's also received quite a bit of grant money (at least half of the advance he's hoping for) to allow him to focus on book. Professionals make it work. And making it work, well, takes a lot of work.

    Honestly, I think most people in my position would have given up. Creative writing is much different than other forms of writing and I think a lot harder to sell. And to become a professional you have to sell your work. I was rejected over 400 times before I sold my first short story. But that story landed in one of my dream publications and I was paid $1k for it. Can you withstand 400 rejections? That's years of nothing but rejection. I took classes, got an MFA, and still couldn't sell my work. I had sort of become a professional rejection-getter. And maybe you have to do that first. You are going to fail. Even when you are trying your hardest you are going to fail. I don't think that means you can't make it, but it does mean you need to get better. You need to read like crazy because it really is one of the best ways to improve. You have to be willing to write and rewrite a million times. It's harder then you think. Even if you're good, it's going to be harder than you think.

    I think the biggest misconception is about the relationship between a writer and an editor. I'm not talking about an editor you hire but the editor who is buying your work. These people are professionals and know what they're doing. It's important to listen to an editor and make changes accordingly. Sure, maybe there's something where you have a little pushback, but it can't be everything. An editor is going to make your writing better. I've been very lucky when it comes to the editors I've worked with. There is more revision that comes after making a sale than I had thought. But in the end it makes me look better. I know I can write at a certain level, but the editors touch just elevates that. I think it's important for a professional to be easy to work with and really appreciate all the people involved in making your writing great and putting it out there on a larger scale than you would likely reach on your own.

    Of course, with self publishing you can skip a bunch of these steps, but, for me, my work would not be as good without the backing of a publisher and all the people involved. If you want to trade publish, I think this is an important thing to recognize.
     
  21. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

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    I respectfully disagree. While it's true that some people get dissed unjustly, it's also true that people get coddled and not confronted about what's wrong with their work. And yes, there are some people that are plain not good at writing, or else are moderately good, but have better talents elsewhere so might as well spend their time and energy on those.
     
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  22. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

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    Forgive me, but I'm going to disagree with you once again. There's nothing wrong with writing aspirations turning into a hobby. There's nothing wrong with encouraging people who are on the wrong track, so long as that encouragement includes legitimate, helpful criticism as well. You never know when someone might turn it around, and if they don't, so what? Who are they hurting? If they're doing what they love, they should continue doing so. Would you tell a painter to throw away their brushes because they're never going to sell a painting? Maybe you would, but I think most of us wouldn't. If someone loves to paint, they should paint. If someone loves to write, they should write.
     
  23. Richach

    Richach Contributor Contributor

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    My major misconception was that I might find people that cared about my work. I did find someone and that was me!

    One of the things that's coming out of this thread is this. It is probably the question that we all face. How good is what I have written? Or a variation, How good am I as a writer? (there are multiple variations that I have seen) If one asks these questions of oneself then, it will only get answered in the medium to long term. Ask that question of someone else? That gives an awful lot of power to someone you don't really know. One thing is for sure, a lot of variables are involved in that calculation with no guarantee of fair and timely scrutiny. On the other hand, some will not give that power to another, they have answers and no questions. I think control is a big factor in putting our work out there or not as the case may be. I guess it all comes down to relationship building and eventually trust in an ideal world. Sometimes it works with people and sometimes it doesn't.
     
  24. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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    'Your friends and family will give you honest feedback.' Unless I have already had a beta reader or ten, and at least a couple rewrites, I am not giving my story to anyone I know to read, especially if I want useful feedback. 'It was great' can mean anything from 'It was great' to 'I ran out of toilet paper and use your book since I didn't want to read it but felt bad about tossing it.'
     
  25. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    That once you finish a book, you get a long winded break. It's constant work.

    That your ideas need to be different than everyone else's. They really don't. Each story is special, even if it has the same premise, it's written by an entirely different person and is therefore an entirely different story.

    That the quality of writing is the biggest factor. I'm speaking for genre fiction, and especially some more than others. Having a decent book written to market will be worth more than the best crafted words off market.
     

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