We’ve all been new writers at some point. Or maybe you’re a new writer now. If that’s the case then start taking notes, because today I’m going to talk about the things you shouldn’t be doing and what you’re going to do to avoid making that mistake again. Even if you’re a writing pro, there’s always more to learn. And if you’ve already learned your lessons, well then today you’re just going to look back and cringe at all the mistakes you may have made when you were a budding writer.
Not Editing Enough
When you’re writing, it’s easy to get lazy, especially in draft 2 and beyond. Any draft after the first draft is going to be hard to write because it’s no longer “getting words on paper.” You need a well thought-out story that is compelling and makes sense. That’s not something that’s always easy to pull off. My first novel, Essence, went through ten drafts, not because I liked editing, but because I knew it really needed an overhaul. I submitted Essence into a publishing contest when it was only in the first draft. I thought Essence was amazing and that I was a shoe-in to win the contest. As you can tell, that did not happen. After I got my first rejection letter, I re-wrote Essence another ten times. The moral of the story is, don’t be like me. Take your time with your manuscript. Think things through and if you think something might need to be edited, just go ahead and edit it. Just because you know it will be hard to re-write a scene or add in a new chapter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
Writing the Cliche
I’m not going to lie, cliches are fun to write. A cute romantic story? So much fun to write! But is it interesting to read? To some, maybe, but to most? Not really. This is because your readers have seen it all before. No one wants to read a cliche because readers don’t like to be able to predict things. If you’re not going to publish your novel, go ahead and write cliches to your heart’s content, but if you want to publish your novel then you’re going to have to think outside the box a little. It may be difficult to think outside some cliches, but I promise it’s more rewarding as a writer to come up with a story that no one has seen before.
I hate commas. Do you realize how many different rules there are to commas? And depending on your writing style (AP, MLA, APA, Chicago) than those rules for commas change very slightly, just slightly enough to drive you insane. So how do you get your commas straight? There’s always spell-check, but most of all, get yourself a copy of “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and EB White. This book is small but full of all the grammar rules you should know as a writer.
Abandoning a Draft
I’ve heard of one too many writers who pour their soul into their manuscripts but lose inspiration and drop their story. I’ve done this myself, for almost every novel I’ve written so far in fact, and each time I regret it. I usually end up picking up that novel again down the line, but by then I’ve forgotten all the details of the story I was writing and I have to re-read everything to continue writing where I left off.
Even more common is when writers have a draft that they’re half-way through, drop it and never pick it up again. Whenever I hear of someone who abandoned their manuscript I always think what if? What if they kept writing, if they pushed through the writer’s block and the novel that emerged was everything they had hoped for? If you have a dream or a vision for your story, don’t give up on it.
What are some of the mistakes that you have made as a writer? Are you guilty of any of the ones mentioned above?