The list of things all aspiring writers SHOULD do always seems to get longer: write often. Have a writing partner. Join an online writing community. However, the list of things you shouldn’t do as a wannabe writer isn’t quite as set in stone.
If you have a successful career as a writer in your sights, here is a list of five things to avoid, and in a few cases, what to do instead.
1. Delete their work
Sure, everyone hits backspace five times a minute to correct a would-have-been typo. But deleting entire paragraphs, pages or even entire projects without saving back files first shouldn’t be your go-to revision strategy. Always save over a new file of a draft, instead of just overriding the current one. For example, use dates to keep track of your multiple revisions. You never know when something you wrote on the fly will actually be usable for something else, or become something you want to reference, later.
2. Ask everyone they know to read their work
It’s a good idea to have at least one, maybe two close friends, a teacher, family member or writing companion of some kind who is willing to read and critique your work from time to time. It is not a good idea to offer this “privilege” to every other writer, classmate or acquaintance you meet. Not everyone will want to, but some won’t feel comfortable turning you down, and that’s not a good way to get solid, honest feedback.
3. Copy other writers’ styles
This isn’t something writers usually do on purpose, but it’s easy to do it without realizing it. The more you read, the more you are exposed to different writers’ writing styles, and while this can be a good thing for your own style, it can be tempting to want to mirror the styles of authors you love. Keep to your own voice. Have you ever spaced out in the middle of writing a sentence, gone back and read what you wrote without remembering it? What you find there is your voice. Completely yours, straight from your brain to your Word document without second-guessing yourself.
4. Judge a book by its cover/title/author
If you ever publish something, you definitely would not be pleased to know potential readers were passing up your story because of silly snap judgments. So when you’re browsing to add to your own to-read shelf, try not to make those same kinds of premonitions about others’ hard work. Give all stories an equal chance, no matter what they look like on the outside or who took the time to write them.
5. Stop writing
There’s nothing wrong with taking short breaks every once in a while to give your brain a rest, and every now and again projects come along that just aren’t going anywhere and have to be put on the back burner. But whether you think you’re a good writer or not the greatest, never stop forever. Always let your creativity out once in a while. Write a haiku. An email. Anything that exercises your skills and keeps your mind stimulated.
Never forget: writing is your passion. Even on those days you just can’t put your thoughts into words, they will always come to you eventually. Just keep going. You got this.
Image courtesy of psychologytoday.com.