Title: The Myths of Writing: Have You Bought Into These?
Author: David B. Silva
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The Myths of Writing: Have You Bought Into These?
by David B. Silva
There is an image most people carry of the artist (think Van
Gough's self-portrait, the one with his ear bandaged), working
in solitude in a barren garret in a dark corner of the city.
Everyday is a struggle. He continually walks between moments of
brilliance and moments of insanity. It's a romantic image, I
suppose. Built around the belief that an artist must suffer for
This applies not only to the painter, mind you, but also to the
actor, the dancer, the photographer, the writer. We all must
suffer for our art.
But image and reality are often two different things. Writing,
for example, does NOT have to be a torturous process of endurance
and pain. In fact, it should be exactly the opposite. Liberating.
Joyous. Enlightening. Why else would you want to invest so much
of yourself in it?
So let's take a closer look at a few common writing myths.
This first one actually applies in all areas of a person's life.
Simply stated: Having a big ego is a bad thing. It's unbecoming.
It's boastful. It puts you in a negative light.
The truth is...if you want to be a success at anything, you need
an ego. It motivates you, keeps you moving, pushes you to do your
best. It's not your enemy. It's your ally.
The key to making it work for you is to keep it directed inward.
Pump yourself up silently. Let it fill you with pride and a sense
of possibilities. That's what the ego does best. Used wisely, it
will move you toward your writing goals, not away from them.
Our next common writing myth is one you hear all the time: you
have to write something original.
What is originality?
There's only one thing in the world that can make your work
original. That's you. Because that's all you have to bring to the
table as a writer. Who you are. Your history. Your experiences.
Your family. Your beliefs.
When a publisher says he wants something original, he's saying he
wants something fresh, something that reflects you the writer. He
wants your voice, your honesty. The world already has a Stephen
King and a Mary Higgins Clark and a John Grisham. It doesn't need
more of them.
Our final common writing myth (though there is no shortage of
such myths, we are limited by space): the slower you write, the
more time you spend with each and every word, the better your
writing will be.
The catch to this one is simple: there's a time and place for
writing, and there's a time and place for editing.
When you mix the two activities (which are very different in their
requirements and purpose), you rarely do either one justice. If
anything will suffer, it will be your writing. Because suddenly
you'll be under the constraints of the editor sitting on your
shoulder. You'll be fretting over the words while losing
perspective on the more important elements of the story. Does the
scene work? Are your characters being true to their nature? Does
this move the story forward?
The truth is this: your writing will ALWAYS be better when you
write in the moment. Remember when you were a child? When you
could spend hours building a sand castle or playing catch or
flying a kite? Those were moments when nothing else in the world
existed because you were completely absorbed in the activity.
Write with that same captivation, as if each scene were unfolding
right before your eyes, and you'll find your writing will not
only be vivid and powerful, it will flow faster than you ever
Writing does not have to be a torturous, exacting process.
Allow yourself to have fun with it, and you'll be a better writer
for the effort.
Copyright © 2005 David B. Silva
About David: David B. Silva has written eight novels. His most
recent, All The Lonely People, is published by Delirium Press.
He's awaiting the release of The Hawke Legacy, a novel of epic
horror, from Subterranean Press. His short fiction has appeared
in The Year's Best Horror, The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, and
The Best American Mystery Stories. In 1991, he won a Bram Stoker
Award for his short story, The Calling. Visit his site,
List of articles by David Silva: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
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