Debunking Creative Writing and Editing Myths

Updated: Jun 10

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about creative writing and editing that lead to unrealistic expectations. Some of us end up believing that becoming a writer is easy, while others think it's impossible. We think that writers are poor, depressed, or living in a state of perpetual despair. But that is simply not true. So, let’s debunk some of them here.

You shouldn’t read too much or else another writer’s writing style will leak into your work and make it less original.

This is like saying you shouldn’t hang out with the same people all the time because you will start copying their behaviour and personality. It is perfectly okay to be influenced by other writers, and one should trust that their own unique writing style will emerge with practice and hard work. In fact, it is important to read a good amount to become a good or even great writer. As a writer, you will understand the craft and the marketplace, which is essential to becoming a writer.

You should only write when you are inspired or in the mood for it.

This is exactly the kind of thing that separates people who write as a hobby and people who write for a living. Writers must learn how to get inspired and stay inspired. It is important to get work done even when we are not inspired, otherwise we will produce absolutely nothing. Sometimes, we must write even when we are not in the mood for it, and even when we know (or assume, rather) that what we will end up writing won’t be that good. Always remember, you can edit and rewrite something badly written, but you can’t do that to a blank page.

Writers are poor and authors earn next to nothing.

This myth is partly true, but honestly, it really depends. Most authors and writers are also teachers, instructors, educators, etc and do happen to have a secondary source of income. Many writers work other day jobs to keep themselves out of poverty. Of course, there are poor writers, but there are also wealthy and middle class writers.

Women write romance, men do not.

Excuse my French, but this is absolute horseshit. Both men and women write in every genre, and let’s not forget non-binary folk. This is more of a sexism issue, an, generally speaking, society has assigned anything feminine as something lesser. Men are not the only people who can be great writers of literature, and women are not the only people who write steamy romance.

You’re not a writer/author unless you’ve been published.

Again, another thing that’s incorrect. Anyone who writes can identify as a writer. Being published is just another grand step in a writer’s journey, but it’s not something that defines who we are. Honestly, getting published is just a way of impressing people and getting an arbitrary credential at your disposal. And we are living in the days of the world wide web, where any writer with an internet connection can publish on the internet! So who’s really winning, huh?

So these were some common writing myths, but editing is just as important. So let’s look at some myths and misconceptions about editing.

Editors hate writers.

If book editors destroyed the manuscripts they were given, they would quickly be out of work. You might feel frustrated with an editor’s note if you disagree with it, but he or she didn’t give that feedback because of animosity toward you. In fact, most editors absolutely love writers and writing, and they got into this line of work to help make amazing books.

Good writers don't need an editor.

A chapter that seems absolutely vital to you may seem superfluous to an editor because you’ve done a good job of covering that ground elsewhere. Good editors help writers who are mired in the trees of their work to stand back and see the forest again.

Editors just change things to justify their jobs.

The idea here is that writers or publishers won’t think editors are worth their salt unless they make a lot of changes. There’s a fairly easy way to disprove this: Ask for the editor’s rationale behind any edits that seem strange or wrong. Skilled editors will always have a reason, even though you may not agree with it. Once you know what that reason is, you’ll be better equipped to decide whether to keep the change.

Your writing will become a ‘cookie cutter’.

Book editors want the best manuscripts they can get. Period. While they may attempt to make parts of your book more conventional in the interest of understandability, no editor wants all books to sound the same. Can you imagine how boring that would be for them and their readers?

5. Anyone can edit a book.

Do you think anyone can write a book? Probably not without a high level of knowledge, talent and some good old trial and error. The same is true for editors. Book editing is a skill. The best editors not only make sure your manuscript is error free but also point out areas of confusion, fix repetition and tonal inconsistencies, and offer overall suggestions to make the work better. Those are skills that have to be developed over time and through specialized training.

Authors: Anika Garg and Charmee Purohit

Editor: Nandini Patil

Source: Google

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