Feb 8th, 2022

Debunking common self-doubt myths about writing

by Synne Lindén

Debunking common self-doubt myths about writing

It’s safe to say that, as a collective group, us writers are overthinkers. We’re obsessed with details; some of us even analyse and describe them for living. Most of the time, this tendency to overthink is advantageous. It helps us produce comprehensive work and, in many cases, capture exactly what our client has asked for. Every so often, however, overthinking leads us to start doubting our abilities. We focus on the wrong things, we compare ourselves to other writers, and we wonder if we’ve been faking being a good writer all along. In this article, we’ll debunk some of the common self-doubt myths about writing.

Great writers are born, not made

Alright, this one is pretty ridiculous, in my opinion. The ability to learn the art of writing is not genetically determined. Sure, some people might naturally be more creative than others, but that doesn’t mean you’re at a disadvantage if you’re more of an analytical thinker. 

Writing takes practice. No one is born a great writer. Great writers are made through their commitment to learning the ins-and-outs of their craft. 

You can dive into the craft of writing by learning the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Expand your vocabulary, learn a variety of sentence structures and paragraphs, and experiment with different styles and compositions. If you want to learn the art of creative writing, consider shifting your perspective, brainstorming more ideas, and asking the question: what if? 

The path to becoming a great writer usually isn’t linear; there are lots of ways to go about your journey. Writing can be scary, but try not to feel intimidated by all of the elements involved. The more you practice, the easier it will become. 

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Your first draft must be your best draft

Let’s be honest. The majority of first drafts are pretty terrible. But, that’s okay, don’t worry. They aren’t supposed to be good. 

If you’re a bit of a perfectionist, like me, then you might find yourself agonising over the small details in every sentence you write. It’s easier said than done, but try to remind yourself that first drafts are called first drafts for a reason. They’re supposed to be edited at a later stage. 

Think of first drafts as the building blocks of your writing. They’re meant for mapping out key details, they aren’t meant to be published the second you write them. In fiction, your first draft will introduce your characters, setting, and the fundamentals of your plot. In content writing, you might have the basics of the points you want to outline, the structure in which you want to introduce them, and an overarching theme.

After reading a first draft of something you’ve written, it can be easy to think that the quality of your writing isn’t up to scratch. We’ve all been there. Try not to stress too much during the initial stages of writing and have fun with your first draft. Stress halts creativity and that’s the last thing you want to happen. Like Jodi Picoult says, “You can’t edit a blank page.” 

My advice is to focus on getting your ideas on paper. Worry about everything else later.

Having writer’s block makes you a bad writer 

Do you ever have those days when creativity doesn’t seem to flow? When, no matter how hard you try, your words just don’t seem to transfer from pen to paper? Those days are normal. Everyone has them. Honestly, even the best writers suffer from writer’s block. 

Take Ray Bradbury, for example, one of the most credible science fiction writers that the world has ever known. He wrote some of the most well-known literature of the 21st century, such as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and The Illustrated Man. With a portfolio of so many novels and short stories, there’s no denying that he was an incredibly imaginative writer. However, all of this literary success doesn’t mean that he didn’t suffer from writer’s block during his lifetime. 

Ray Bradbury once said, “you only fail if you stop writing”, and he was absolutely right! Having writer’s block doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that you’re a bad writer. In my experience, it just means you need to spend a few hours doing something else. Maybe that means taking a walk outside to find some inspiration, exploring a place you’ve never visited, or making an effort to learn about something new. Alternatively, it means taking some time to wind-down, like binge-watching Netflix and eating your favourite snacks until you have enough energy to start writing again. 

It’s important to recognise that not every day will be a good writing day. Sometimes, you need to rest and reset in order to prepare yourself for the next day. We’re human beings, after all, not robots. 

What are your thoughts on these self-doubt myths about writing? I’d love to hear them in the comment section! Alternatively, you can drop me an email at synne@lindentree.com or send a direct message to @thestorytellingguide on Instagram.

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