Conquering the Myths of the Writing Life

Hamed Masoumi / Flickr

Hamed Masoumi / Flickr

Is there such a thing as a happy writer? A creative person who doesn’t have a secret torment? An authorial genius absent of anxiety?

Fiction writer Douglas W. Millikin offers an honest and insightful essay about the biggest myths writers face about their profession, such as:

  • Real writers must constantly and everyday be writing
  • Depression is a muse
  • Writers take to the bottle

Milliken himself has anxiety disorders that he’s seeking treatment for. While it pushed him forward at first, eventually it became destructive. He writes:

Angst-fueled ambition ceased to be a motivator. Instead of spurring me on, it wore me down. The more anxious I became, the less I wrote. The less I wrote, the more I drank. The more I drank, the deeper I sank into my depression and anxiety. And even as apparent as this self-destructive cycle was, justifying my actions came easily because there were the admirable precedents of addicts and suicides abounding on all sides. … I was buying into my mythologies, and getting exactly what I paid for. So how long do you have to tell yourself the same bogus story before you finally correct the narrative?

Read Milliken’s entire essay at Glimmer Train: A Weapon or a Crutch

Also this month at Glimmer Train:

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration and tagged .
Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (March 2018).

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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3 Comments on "Conquering the Myths of the Writing Life"

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[…] Fiction writer Douglas W. Millikin offers an honest and insightful essay about the biggest myths writers face about their profession.  […]

Kayla Hoffer
I’ve never particularly liked the myth that writers need to write every day – because while, sure, it can be helpful to just get your words down on the page, it can also be hurtful. Some days your mind is just so much all over the place that anything you write comes out as gibberish. Other days you are just so out of the zone that you think everything you write that day is trash – leading to you thinking that anything you’ve ever written is trash and that you should just give it up already. Sometimes you just need… Read more »
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