Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Myths and Realities

MYTH: Writers spend their days in damp garrets scratching away on yellowed paper with an old pen whilst a cold wind swirls about their feet and a small fire sputters in a dented wood stove.

REALITY: This is not 1800. Most writers write on computers. I cannot comment on whether or not there is a small sputtering fire.

MYTH: If you write out characters' biographies, you'll know exactly how they'd react in every situation.

REALITY: You never know. You might guess, but you'll always be surprised. It might be a good surprise. It might not.

MYTH: Writing is easy.

REALITY: Writing is work.

MYTH: Writers wait for inspiration and once it's struck, work away in a frenzy of creativity until they've finished their manuscript.

REALITY: Writing takes discipline. Boat-loads of discipline.

MYTH: Writers are pompous creatures who are convinced each word they write is touched with genius.

REALITY: Writers are haunted by their self-editors; that strident voice that hisses in your brain "This is so bad you need a new word for bad. Can't think of one? I'm so glad you're a writer."

MYTH: All writers love writing.

REALITY: On a good day; yes. If you're having a bad day, cleaning the refrigerator with a toothbrush will strike you as a better use of your time.

MYTH: All writers drink.

REALITY: No comment.


  1. ha ha ha ha ha!

    I love the 'no comment'! I DO drink but it's only coffee. I don't drink alcohol.


  2. Clarissa; So you say. Thanks for letting me know you liked the post!

  3. Love it...especially the last one. I think the more seriously you take your writing, the more you realize it really is work to do it well! Atleast that's been my experience! ;-)

  4. Elspeth - Oh, I just love these!! You are so right about them (although I do wish you'd stop spilling our secrets - there's a dear).

    Myth: Writers spill over with creative ideas; they're always "on tap."

    Reality: Madame Muse is a fickle - er - witch.

  5. Margot; You're always so great at adding to my lists, Margot! Thanks.

  6. Kristi; That's been my experience too!

  7. Myth: The manuscript magically produces itself and all we do it type it. One time. Which leaves us all day to talk on the phone, do lunch, shop, hang out.

    Reality: In what world?

  8. Carol; That's SO true. I'm amazed on how many people think that. Yes, I sit down to write and POOF, there's a perfect manuscript.

  9. Haha! Love your 'no comment' on the last one! :)

  10. So many of these come from old movies.

    Here's another one: when you type "the end" you're finished with the manuscript.

    You can then immediately rush off to the post office to send your dog-eared pages to your adoring agent and equally adoring editor, who will get them into print in time for you to casually carry your bestselling novel into your ex-girlfriend's engagement party and she will realize your total superiority to that illiterate slime bucket and run off with you to Paris.

    You have, of course, become very big in Paris.

    Sigh. Reality's a bitch.

  11. Anne; EXACTLY. Well put. I can hear the triumphant crescendo as the happy couple wander through the cobblestone streets hand in hand.

  12. It never ceases to amaze me how many myths and urban legends about writers there are.

  13. Thanks for the laugh, even if only other writers are aware of the realities.
    P.S. I just typed "The End" to my latest best seller. Let's do lunch...

  14. I like that part about cleaning the refrigerator with a toothbrush. I think I'll do that this evening.

  15. Love this list so much is al too true!

  16. Another winner list. The 'writing is work' is especially true. How many people say, "Oh, someday when I have TIME, I'll write a book." Time isn't the deciding factor.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery


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