5 Lies Unpublished Writers Tell Themselves (and the Truths That Can Get Them Published) - Writer's Digest

5 Lies Unpublished Writers Tell Themselves (and the Truths That Can Get Them Published)

Writers tend to be creative in many areas of life, so it's no surprise that we can get creative with the truth. Or, as my mother said, "You lie a lot." This is especially tempting when we are debating why we aren't published. Before I was a published author, I embraced a few cherished lies because they blunted the pain of rejection. But the road to publication required discarding these lies and facing reality. Guest column by Matt Mikalatos, freelancer, and author of the novel Imaginary Jesus (BarnaBooks, April 2010).
Author:
Publish date:

Writers tend to be creative in many areas of life, so it's no surprise that we can get creative with the truth. Or, as my mother said, "You lie a lot." This is especially tempting when we are debating why we aren't published. Before I was a published author, I embraced a few cherished lies because they blunted the pain of rejection. But the road to publication required discarding these lies and facing reality. Here are five lies I believed before I was published:

(How NOT to start your story. Read advice from agents.)

2d1fc060ada003d887d63210.L._V192275096_SX200_
Image placeholder title
Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 2.23.00 PM

Guest column by Matt Mikalatos, freelancer,
and author of the novel IMAGINARY JESUS
(BarnaBooks, April 2010) as well as the fantasy
THE SWORD OF SIX WORLDS (Dec, 2012).
See his website here.



1. THE RULES DON'T APPLY TO ME.

I write amazing first drafts. If there were a contest for first drafts, mine would win every time. So I told myself, "Writing is not rewriting." Other people might have to do multiple drafts, but my first drafts are so solid I could publish them as-is. For years I believed this.

One day I did three drafts of an article, and it became my first published article. A solid first draft is not good enough to be published. All those "rules of writing" that you read in Writer's Digest, on blogs, and in creative writings classes are rules because they are true most of the time. So if there are some rules that you think don't apply to you, think again. It might be the rule preventing you from getting published.

2. AGENTS AND EDITORS HAVE IT IN FOR ME.

Ah, those blood-sucking agents and editors. I'm pretty sure they have meetings in a secret underground lair where they talk about how jealous they are of my writing skills and how they should team up to keep me from being published.

This is a lie that is so prevalent among unpublished writers that editors and agents have to go to psychologists so they can feel good about themselves again. I know one editor who calls herself "Dream Crusher" to assuage her pain. Here's the truth: Editors and agents desperately want you to be good enough. They make a living by writers being publishable. If you're getting rejected it's because you still have work to do -- either as a writer or as a marketer.

3. I'M NOT A MARKETER, I'M A WRITER!

Which is exactly why you aren't published yet. You have to do the hard work of writing a spectacular query and proposal. Notice that you have to "write" the query and proposal. You're not being asked to do an interpretive dance or draft blueprints to a rocket ship. It might not be your style, and it might be hard work, but being a published author is hard work, complete with e-mails you don't want to answer, deadlines, accounting and marketing!

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers' Conferences:

4. I SHOULD SPEND A LOT OF TIME FANTASIZING OVER WHERE I WILL BE PUBLISHED NOW THAT I'VE WRITTEN TWO CHAPTERS OF MY NOVEL.

It is way more fun to read Writer's Market over and over—memorizing the publishers and agents—than it is to write your book. And while this is good practice for when your book is ready to shop, if the fantasy-to-writing ratio tips toward fantasy, it's time to get back to writing. Unless you are writing a fantasy, in which case you are probably fine and keep up the good work.

(Learn how to start your novel.)

5. I'M A BETTER WRITER THAN MOST PUBLISHED AUTHORS.

If you're like me, you love picking up a book from the "Top 10" rack, flipping it open and cringing at the terrible prose. But this author (who is, keep in mind, a worse writer than you) somehow got a contract, got published and is selling well. I said this most often before I had finished writing the first draft of my first novel. Perhaps it's just that the "hack writers" out there actually finish their books.

Here's an exercise: Find a writer online who is published but far inferior to you as a writer. Look at what magazines they are published in. Then write stories or articles to submit to those magazines. This is a guaranteed way to build your writing resume. Unless—they are actually better writers than you, in which case, it's a good reality check.

These are a few of the lies that I wish someone had confronted me with when I was an unpublished writer. Now, here's one last truth for you: You can do this. Work hard, keep writing, improve your craft and be persistent. We're all waiting to read your masterpiece!

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Image placeholder title

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

bearing_vs_baring_vs_barring_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Bearing vs. Baring vs. Barring (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use bearing vs. baring vs. barring on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

15_things_a_writer_should_never_do_zachary_petit

15 Things a Writer Should Never Do

Former Writer's Digest managing editor Zachary Petit shares his list of 15 things a writer should never do, based on interviews with successful authors as well as his own occasional literary forays and flails.

Green_10:26

Evie Green: Imaginary Friends and Allowing Change

Author Evie Green explains why she was surprised to end writing a horror novel and how she learned to trust the editorial process.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: The 3 Prime Rules of Horror Writing, Contest Deadlines, and More!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series! There's always so much happening in the Writer's Digest universe that even staff members have trouble keeping up. So we're going to start collecting what's on the horizon to make it easier for everyone to know what's happening and when.

Bell_10:25

Lenora Bell: When Fairy Tales Meet Reality TV

Bestselling historical romance author Lenora Bell discusses researching, avoiding info-dumps while still charming readers, and how her latest book was inspired by her life.

Major_10:24

Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.

Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

Take Two: Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

No one wants to break the bank to learn how to write a screenplay. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares practical tips on saving money on the pursuit of a screenwriting career.

richard_adams_watership_down_quotes_a_rabbit_has_two_ears_a_rabbit_has_two_eyes_two_nostrils_they_ought_to_be_together_not_fighting

10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quintilla Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the quintilla.