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Exploring the Myths of First-Time Authors
Victoria A. Witkewitz
21 May 2021
When I first started my writing career many years ago, I was plagued by the barriers to entry and some misrepresentations generated in the world of copywriting and creative writing. Many years later after speaking with several other authors, I realized we shared similar experiences. This article will focus on some of the myths I personally encountered and pushed through in order to watch my creative works come to fruition.
five myths of what it takes to become a first-time author
Myth #1 A large vocabulary is absolutely necessary
While an expansive list of fanciful words with multiple syllables may sound appetizing to your readers, the key message conveyed in your writing objective is paramount. Whether you are expressing creative work or applying a journalistic approach, writing that is clean, focused, and engaging is what keeps readers interested in turning the pages.
At the beginning of my career, I struggled to utilize a treasure trove of words simply because my vocabulary was underdeveloped. Over time, it began to build by a few factors-one I began to play more word games and dabble in apps on a regular basis. In addition, I began to use a thesaurus on a regular basis to craft my writing style.
Exercising daily word puzzles and word of the day applications will help you stretch those vocabulary muscles. Once you learn a new word, utilize it in a sentence both orally and written. Before long, your writing will take on a unique flavor of its own.
Myth #2 My creative writing endeavor has to be a set number of pages
When I first began creative writing, particularly developing a novel structure, I anxiously felt the need to target a certain number of pages. No matter what your writing project is, your main objective is to formulate and articulate your ideas fully, concisely, and clearly giving the reader a deeper understanding of what you are trying to convey. Rather than getting hung up on the page count, deliver a message that flows smoothly.
In addition, creating "fluff" or unnecessary content to simply fill page counts may distract the reader which could potentially result in boredom or loss of interest. Don't let that happen!
Myth #3 My writing must follow an outline
An outline is a great place to start and jot ideas into action; however, it is not a requirement in every author's repertoire. In my experience, I create a few sentences of my idea for the story, article, white paper, etc. within my document as the main idea I want to communicate. I then add subheadings of thoughts that support the main idea objective.
As I start to write, I may shift ideas, characters, or even write multiple scenarios and decide later on after careful reading which sounds better. I also take a break after long periods of heavy writing to come back to my work. As the time away gives me a chance to decompress and view from a different perspective, it helps me to decide if my intention remains the same or alters from the original idea.
For more information on outlines please check Authors' Notes article Outline Mapping for Your First Book: Organizing For Success.
Myth #4 Creative Writing efforts must have a timeline
In creative works, setting timelines can be a double-edged sword. For one, timelines are good to help keep focus as you probably don't want to see years and years pass by before your creation is finished. However, if you are not meeting your deadlines, this can create unnecessary anxiety, the daunting version of "writer's block" that plagues authors from time to time.
A rushed process of timeline may alter your overall end product which may or may not result in what you define as success. Instead of watching the clock, set a goal system in place to help monitor your progress. See the example below as a model to springboard your own creative writing goal system. Feel free to adjust the timeframe of tasks achieved based on your schedule.
Myth #5 Traditional publishing is the preferred route
As the internet age continues to blossom, the ability to produce creative works is easier than the barriers to entry many authors faced years prior. While I do recommend doing your research to see if a traditional publishing house makes sense for your project, there are alternative solutions such as hybrid and self-publishing.
The process of writing can be a fun and interesting challenge best achieved through a careful process of planning and organization. Remember the most salient story you can write is your own.
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