Writing Myths that need slaying

I must write something other people will like and approve of.

No. A thousand times no. As Oscar Wilde put it “You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies.” Write your truth. If it pleases everyone, chances are high you’re doing something wrong. Offend people. Make them think. Challenge their beliefs. Challenge your own. The world is too full of people tiptoeing carefully through their existences without ever standing up for themselves or what they believe in. If everyone is comfortable with your words, you’re using the wrong ones.

I must write at a level everyone will understand.

Don’t insult the intelligence of your readers. Don’t be complicit in the dumbing-down of society. Write to the level that your book demands and your characters dictate. If you have a story able to reach out and grab your readers by the balls, they will find themselves a dictionary if they have to. Don’t lessen your work or yourself to please the masses – because often the ‘m’ is silent.

I must write something that will sell.

Why? Are there writers who seriously go in expecting to get rich from their work? Write what pleases you, because the trending genre this month will have blown away with the autumn leaves next month. Write what pleases you, because forcing yourself to write what everyone else does will be a brutal exercise in boredom. If no one else is ever to read your magnum opus, you had best make certain it enthralls you. Be original. Be yourself. No one else can be.

Writing is a slog, a chore. Writing is like giving yourself homework every night for the rest of your life.

Writing is an adventure. Every time you pick up a pen, sit at a keyboard, you create a world that only you can; live for a while with the only people you’re willing to invite inside your head. Writing is an addiction and a cure. Writing is an antidote to the tedium of life that was the same today as it was yesterday, as it will be tomorrow. Writing should make your heart beat faster and the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Writing should be what gets you through the things you ‘have’ to do; the thing that wakes you up in the night with the next scene more alive in your head than the walls around you.

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