Saturday, November 03, 2012

Mistakes Writers Make

If you Google “mistakes writers make” then you will find list after list of things writers do wrong in every genre. A lot of those mistakes show up in multiple lists. Trying to hard is one of the ones I read about a lot- try to be funny, try to be relevant, try to be impressive. I thought I’d come up with my own list, based on my experiences and the experiences of a few friends.

  • Proof reading is lax: Some writers are so swept up in the art of writing that they forget an important part of a finished piece- editing. Grammar, comma usage, apostrophes, etc. benefit by a few rounds of proof reading. The most common advice is to put the piece away for a few days (or weeks) and come back to proof read/edit/revise with a fresh set of eyes. That is 100% correct advice in my experience. I’ll go one above that- do your proof reading/editing/revising from a printed black and white hard copy. You are less likely to miss mistakes on the printed page. If you like an old school approach, do your hand edits with a red pen.
  • Erroneous expectations of instant success: There is nothing “quick” about the writing/publishing industry. Writing takes a long time. Editing and revision takes a long time. Querying/submissions take a long time. Everything in this industry takes a long time to work though. There is a reason my motto is “passion, persistence, and patience” in life and in writing. Have some patience, drink a cup of coffee, and start a new work in progress while you wait for the gears to turn on your work in submission.
  • Focus on deadlines kills quality: This is especially true of established writers. I could cite a dozen popular writers that have eventually caved to the pressure to churn out works for the voracious appetites of their readers. Their work becomes rushed and quality goes down in exchange for popping out a dozen books in 2 or 3 years. I worked on my first book, Journey of Shadows, over nearly three years. The 1st draft only took a few months, but then I kept going back to it, rewriting until I felt confident that it was ready.
  • Timid writing: This is what holds a lot of potential writers back from actual writing. Some people are so scared of being judged for their writing, or of upsetting someone with what they write, that they stare at a blank page until the urge to write just goes away. Writing, despite the genre, is a product of passion. There is no room for fear.
  • Writing to please others: This also holds a lot of writers back. Instead of following passion, these writers have fallen into a terrible cycle. They write only what they know will be accepted by their readers. They avoid topics that may upset anyone. Basically, they limit themselves to writing about fluffy kittens. Fluffy kittens are awesome, but I can find those free on the internet. 

As you can see, this list isn’t the traditional “mistakes writers make” list. It is far better to overuse clichés and metaphors than to pander to an audience or stare at a blinking cursor with dread. Writing is an art form that requires a time commitment, dedication, and fearlessness. Practice will help! NaNoWriMo is the perfect place to practice. It isn't too late to join in the noveling marathon. Really, you're only 2 days behind!

Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS

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