It's all right to be a beginner
It's all right to be a beginner

Bear with me. As I write this post, I’m more than a little mad. And I don’t mean “crazy,” either. I encountered a fellow the other day who spoke things so poisonous, so deadly to the creative mind, that I suspect he’s already left a battalion of writer-corpses in his wake.

And I’m not staying silent about it anymore.

What You Need to Know

  • You have permission to be a beginner.
  • That means it’s okay if you don’t know things.
  • That means it’s okay if you don’t know how to start your story.
  • That means it’s okay if you don’t know how to end your story.
  • That means it’s okay if you’re still learning to write, learning about grammar, learning about character development.
  • That means it’s okay even if words like “plot points” and “hooks and taglines” give you cold chills.
  • That means it’s okay if you don’t know how to get over the hump in the middle.

Why You Need to Know This

These truths are your armor.

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
—Richard Bach

You may have already encountered someone who preaches this kind of lie—who claims that if you do not already know how to write a story, or you have not already succeeded, then you never will because you lack the skill.

This is a lie.

“However great a man’s natural talent may be, the act of writing cannot be learned all at once.”
–Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It doesn’t matter what you don’t know, or what accolades you haven’t won. If you keep writing, you will succeed eventually.

Take heart, fellow writer. No one can tell your story but you. How long you take or how far you have to go have no bearing on your identity as a writer.

“There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now, I know that the folks who try to discourage you are usually frustrated writers themselves; this discouragement tends to come from a heart of frustration and bitterness, which transform into knives they use on other people.

The thing is, why they do it doesn’t really matter. What matters is you choose to  believe they’re wrong.

“Let others determine your worth and you’re already lost, because no one wants people worth more than themselves.”
–Peter V. Brett

Don’t Quit.

If you don’t know how to do a thing, you’ll learn it.

If you aren’t sure how to write that story, you’ll figure it out in time.

Don’t quit. Even if it seems like the whole world says you should.

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense”
–Pablo Picasso

Have you encountered this kind of lie? Has anyone told you that you couldn’t make it because you weren’t good enough, or weren’t young enough, or didn’t know what they felt you should know?

Tell me about it in the comments, or send me an email. You’re not alone, and I promise you from experience that those bruises will fade.

Don’t quit. Your story deserves to be told.


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.