11 Myths about Writing: Key Tips to Learn Today

Posted on Nov 22, 2023

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Written by Sarah Rexford

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Did you know that falling for even one or two myths about writing can keep you from successfully finishing your book? Writing myths keep many writers from becoming the authors they could be. 

I want you to equip yourself with all the writing tools possible so you can reach your full author potential.

That’s why today, I discuss 11 myths about writing. More importantly, I also share the truth that opposes them. You can know writing tools and myths about writing, but unless you apply the rules and combat the myths, you waste this knowledge.

Feel free to grab a pen and paper to take notes on the myths you most need to work on. Let’s get started!

Myths about writing: what’s covered 

What is a writing myth?

People often consider myths about writing universal truths that pertain to writing and guide creatives. However, when myth and truth combine, it’s easy to lose sight of the writing truths you should actually follow.

Below are some of the top myths to make yourself aware of. Once you pinpoint which myths you may have fallen for, combat these writing myths with the truth that follows each point. 

Myth 1: True creativity doesn’t take work

Truth: Many writers love to sit down at the keyboard when they feel like it. However, successful authors know that creative writing means writing even when you don’t feel like it. 

Whether you write fiction, nonfiction, or are writing a book for the first time, realizing that writing is hard is crucial. There’s a reason that not everyone is an author. The writers who do the work and press on no matter what…these are the individuals who become authors. 

Myth 2: The best writing is done when you are inspired 

Truth: Perhaps you recently searched “book writing strategies” or tips to “write a book in a week.”

I imagine you came across tips such as:

  • Write what inspires you
  • Write what you know

While these are helpful pieces of advice, be sure to realize that writing what inspires you is not the same as only writing when inspired

William Faulkner famously said, “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” 

Combat these myths with the following tip: Choose to write, and inspiration will follow.

Myth 3: Untrained talent always trumps writing rules

Truth: You may have studied writing rules with a writing mentor at some point in your writing journey. Maybe our mentor taught the following: Writers must learn the rules so they can break them.

Note that first comes learning the rules, then comes the ability to break them. 

No matter how much natural writing talent you possess, don’t fall for myths about writing, particularly myth number three. The more knowledge you have about your craft, the better.  

Myth 4: Great description is key

Truth: To continue our myths about writing, description matters, particularly in fiction works. However, long, monotonous passages of description belong with the classics. Today’s readers don’t have the attention span to read pages of adjectives and adverbs. 

Great description is key, but be careful how you define great. For fiction and nonfiction, less is usually more.

Myth 5: Well-read writers copy others’ work

Truth: Plagiarism is unacceptable in writing, but does that mean you shouldn’t read books in your genre? No at all. On the contrary, the more you read in your genre the better you equip yourself to let your own author voice shine through. 

Myth 6: First drafts must be good

Truth: Unfortunately, many would-be authors get so hung up on making their first drafts perfect they never complete them. Instead, focus on getting your story down. You can edit your work as much as you want—once you have something to edit!

Myth 7: Only start when you know the end

Truth: While it can help writers to know the direction to take their manuscript, at some point, you must sit down and write. Common myths about writing state that you must feel prepared before you begin.

If you have a great story idea or nonfiction theme but aren’t sure how to end your book, just start writing. Eventually, you will find the end. When you do, you will discover you do, in fact, know how to end a story.

Myth 8: Heroic characters should be larger than life, period

Truth: Our favorite fictional heroes often seem larger than life. But pause for a moment and take a deeper look. Marvel stands as a great example of how to create heroes who are relatable as well as inspiring. 

In fact, their reliability often makes them that much more inspiring.

Imagine Captain America if he’d entered the first scene looking like he does in the last film. Don’t fall for these myths about writing. 

Myth 9: Villains deserve zero empathy

Truth: Amateur writers often create evil, cliché villains and personable, heroic protagonists. While this is a step in the right direction, villains should be as well-rounded as they are terrible. Nuance is the key to creating characters your readers will remember.

Myth 10: Find your author voice and never lose it

Truth: Particularly for new writers, the pressure of discovering your writing voice can feel overwhelming. But the truth is, as you grow and change as an author, so will your writing voice. 

Look up a famous author you love, and compare their debut novel with their most recent. Notice how their voice changes throughout the years, and remember that yours can too.

Myth 11: Writing for a living is a pipe dream

Truth: There are countless ways to write for a living. You can use your talent for writing to support your creative writing goals. This allows you to do what you love while you equip yourself to make your future dream a reality. 

You may want to consider finding a writing job to support you financially and then working on your fiction or nonfiction books at night and on weekends.

Then, once you make it as an author, you can transition into full-time writing. While I don’t want to underestimate that the leap from aspiring author to full-time author is large, it is possible to succeed. 

Combat your myths about writing

You now know 11 myths about writing and the truth to focus on instead. It’s time to get started working these myths out of your system and focusing on their counter truths instead. To help you with this, use the free resource below for myths eight and nine.

This character development worksheet will help you develop relatable heroes and write well-rounded villains. If you write nonfiction, use it to rethink how you write the narrator in your book.

Which truth did you most resonate with? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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