Skip to main content

10 Writing Myths

I read every “how to write” book I found, every writing magazine, every article on authors I could find. I loved hearing about how they did what they did. And still, I didn’t have a clue about how things worked in this business. Here are 10 myths about being a writer that I discovered once I became published: GIVEAWAY: Lori is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: jdmstudios won.)

I began life as a voracious reader. As a kid, my teachers asked me to “please quit doing book reports.” I did at least three times as many reports as everyone else--and those were only of the books I felt were worthy. In the summers I’d ride my bike to the library and have a hard time getting all the books I checked out home on the bike. I made lists (still do!) of the books I’ve read with a colored check mark to reveal what I thought of them.

I read every “how to write” book I found, every writing magazine, every article on authors I could find. I loved hearing about how they did what they did. And still, I didn’t have a clue about how things worked in this business. Here are 10 myths about being a writer that I discovered once I became published:

GIVEAWAY: Lori is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: jdmstudios won.)

Image placeholder title
Image placeholder title

Guest column by New York Times Bestselling Author Lori Handeland,
who spent years waitressing, teaching and managing a photography
studio before selling her first novel in 1993. Since then she has written
many novels, novellas and short stories in several genres--historical,
contemporary, series, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and historical fantasy.
Her latest book is ZOMBIE ISLAND, A SHAKESPEARE UNDEAD NOVEL
(a retelling of THE TEMPEST, May 2012, St. Martins). Soon she will return
to her roots, writing western historical romance under the name Lori Austin.
For more information please go to her websites at www.lorihandeland.com
and www.loriaustin.net. You can also join Lori on Facebook at:

Lori Handeland or Lori Austin Books.

1. The books featured on the covers of the review magazines receive that exalted space because they are “the best.” (They're paid for.)

2. Author quotes are completely unbiased. (They're usually given by friends, or requested by an author's editor or agent.)

3. Professional writers make so much money they can quit their day jobs and their night jobs too. (The majority of professional writers do not earn a living wage. They do this "on the side.")

4. Once an author breaks into the publishing industry, they’re in for good. (Every book is judged for its own merit.)

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

5. Authors are instant celebrities. (There is no instant in publishing.)

6. Oprah will call. (She won't. Stop waiting.)

7. The books on the displays at the front of the bookstore are “the best.” (This space is also paid for.)

8. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling; that’s what an editor does. (If an editor receives a submission that is poorly written, she stops reading. She barely has the time to read it; she isn't going to correct it too.)

9. Your checks will arrive on time. (Do checks ever arrive on time?)

10. Once you’re published, rejections are a thing of the past. (I received more rejections AFTER I was published than I ever did before.)

And here are 10 things about being a writer that make every busted myth irrelevant.

1. The call (I will always remember October 5, 1993 at 12:05. Always.)

2. When you see your cover for the first time. (This is actually cool EVERY SINGLE time no matter how many books you write.)

3. Gushing editors (This never gets old.)

4. Your book on a shelf in the bookstore. (I still take pictures.)

5. Reader letters (They make everything better.)

(Can your query be longer than one page?)

6. Writing Friends (I have very few friends who aren't writer friends anymore. They understand without an explanation, and they never say: "I wish I had your problems.")

7. Writing Conferences (PARTY!)

8. Making any money at all for something you’d do for free. (Don’t tell!)

9. Being able to say, “I’m a writer,” when asked what you “do.” (The expressions on people's faces are priceless.)

10. The book, the book, the book. (Every book is different. With each one I learn something new. I can lose myself in the writing always.)

And speaking of myths, how about Shakespeare? Legends and rumors abound. Some say his impressive body of work is too impressive. No single human being could have written all those plays, that multitude of sonnets. Others insist the reality of the history plays, the pain of the tragedies, the joy of the comedies, the authenticity of characters are too much for one man. He’d have to be superhuman to produce such genius.

What if he was . . . ?

GIVEAWAY: Lori is excited to give away a free copy of her book to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Update: jdmstudios won.)

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 4.12.53 PM

Do you have an idea for a great novel? Are you at a loss
for where to start? Look no further.
You Can Write a
Novel, 2nd Edition
, gives you
concrete, proven
techniques to get from idea
to manuscript to bookstore.

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.

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Critically acclaimed novelist Katrina Leno discusses the process of bringing her childhood memories to magical life in her new young adult novel, Sometime in Summer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A New Podcast Episode, "Your Story" Prompt, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our latest episode of "Writer's Digest Presents," the new "Your Story" prompt, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

Short story writing can be a gateway to writing your novel—but they’re also fun and worthy stories in their own right. Here, author Dallas Woodburn shares 5 ways to use short stories to grow as a writer.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Kimo Winner

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

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

Tattoos and their artists can reveal interesting details about your characters and offer historical context. Here, author June Gervais shares 8 things writers should know about tattoos.