Five things people tell you about writing that are straight-up lies
By Lauren Sams
1. It’s hard
No it’s not! You get to write. A book. From scratch. That people will read. Can you even comprehend how cool and amazing that is? On a scale of one to DOWNRIGHT FABULOUS, it is off the charts fabulous. So sit down and write your goddamn book and thank God there are other people to be the firefighters and nurses and teachers we all depend on for the world to keep going. They have hard jobs, not you. You have a great job. Be quiet.
2. You should write what you know
I think this statement is often misunderstood. I wrote about surrogacy and infertility, two things I knew very little about before I began writing my book. I knew they would be excellent conversation starters, though, and ripe topics for a novel. I don’t know what it is like to be infertile, but I researched it and got into that headspace for one of my characters. Of course, you’ll naturally draw on emotions and experiences you’ve had yourself, but you also have to stretch yourself to write well. Think outside the square and all that jazz. Who are your characters? What are their motivations? Think about what they want from a conversation, a situation, a plotline – put yourself in their place and go from there.
3. You need lots of time
Nope. You need not quite enough time, actually, because it’ll force you to get off your butt (well, to sit <on> your butt) and write, write, write. It’s human nature to leave things until they absolutely need to be done (like my taxes), so give yourself a bit of an unrealistic deadline and get to it. Off you go!
4. Editing is the worst
So you’ve sat down, written your magnum opus, polished it and sent it off to your editor. It comes back to you, RUINED with red marks and corrections. You cry, imagining how much more work is ahead of you and how much you really want to sit down and watch The Mindy Project but now you can’t, thanks to your editor. But then you start reading your editor’s notes, and find yourself nodding along, thinking, “YES! That is absolutely true! Why didn’t I think of that?” Editors will find gaping plotholes and tiny spelling errors and everything in between. They will take your novel and make it a trillion times better. They are like the chef at the end of the line, wiping that splodge of sauce off the otherwise lovely plate, making it perfectly palatable. They are gods among us. Treat them well, they want to see you shine.
5. Wine is overrated
Untrue. Wine is sensational.
Lauren Sams began her career at Cosmopolitan, before moving to Girlfriend as Deputy Editor. She’s now back at Cosmo as associate editor. She writes for ELLE, marie claire, Sunday Style and Daily Life. She lives in Sydney with her husband, daughter and two dogs. She’s Having Her Baby is Lauren’s debut novel.