4 Writing Pitfalls To Avoid
Note From Jeremy: This article is something of a personal sore spot, but I think one that we all share. I believe that every writer is, has been, and shall be a victim of each and every one of the below writing pitfalls. This goes for the writer who wrote this article, and myself included.
There are plenty of books, articles, YouTube videos, and Tweets with exactly this title, and there’s a reason for that: the pitfalls are many. Legion, even! One fantastic (and comprehensive) compilation of great advice from top writers you can find here but if you’re on deadline, only have a five minute break at the bar, or if you’re just a millennial aficionado of “TL;DR” then I’ve made an abbreviated version for you in this post.
Hope it’s useful.
Writing Pitfall: Over-Editing To Avoid Sharing Your Work
Some writers say you have to excrete all the bad words you’ve got before you get to the good ones. This doesn’t mean that those writers never published those bad words. Writing is one of those careers that pays according to the quality of your work. You write and write and you keep writing and if your work is bad it won’t sell, so you get better and there are three ways to do that: read, write, and send your writing out into the world. Fear is the lock on your door, the chastity belt on your imagination, and it’s an illusory demon that needs to be imprisoned and ignored immediately!
Writing Pitfall: Writer’s Block
A lot of writers are divided on whether they think “Writer’s Block” even exists. The dearth of inspiration is understandable, especially when you write part-time and you’re reeling from a bad day at work, but there isn’t any way out of it unless you find the way out yourself. Brian Michael Bendis says he uses simple writing exercises like sitting down in a public place and writing the backstories of the people you see. Let your pen loose on strangers with strange histories you’ve made up yourself! Don’t worry, they’ll never know unless you tell them, which is inadvisable on the subway.
“You write and write and you keep writing and if your work is bad it won’t sell, so you get better and there are three ways to do that: read, write, and send your writing out into the world.”
Diversify! It’s what the pros do! Warren Ellis, at any one time, has between six and eight projects on the table. This could easily be a “procrastination trap” so beware, but more often than not it’s just a good reason to take your mind off one project and find some inspiration for another, especially if there’s one project you really just don’t want to finish today.
Writing Pitfall: Don’t Wait To Be Inspired
In light of the previous pitfall, I’d like to insist on reminding you of a huge cavern most newer writers fall into; thinking you should only write when you’re inspired. If you ask most professional writers when their most inspirational moments are they often answer, “Two days before the deadline.” It’s amazing how inspired you get when rent’s due.
Sometimes, writer’s block comes because of no ideas, other times it’s too many. Either way, the cure is to just write!
Writing Pitfall: Enjoying It “Too Much” To Finish
Writing, for some, is a hobby, and for others, it’s a vocation. Either way, you don’t do it unless you love it and sometimes that love can be a double-edged claymore. I’ve had stories that I’ve enjoyed writing so much I never wanted them to end, but end, young Padawan, they must. Endings are vital even before you start. Beginnings too. The middle is where you can really have some fun jumping from scene to scene in order to get to where you’re going. But make sure you don’t wander too much, lest you find yourself in a Serewood and then you’re in real trouble.
Bottomline: Just Write!
So many writers get entangled in the plot, character backgrounds, even thinking about where they’re going to publish their masterpiece once (if ever) they finish it and lose their way. I once heard a story from an excellent Irish comics writer/artist about the magnificent Irish writer Grahame Greene who used to set a timer of 30 minutes every day during which he would write all manner of nonsense, wisdom, silliness, and genius. When the timer stopped, so would he. Midsentence if necessary. This wasn’t anything he ever intended for another human to see. This was crafting, something too many writers forget to do.
What do you think about our writing pitfalls? Leave a comment below and let us know which ones you’ve fallen into!