1. Obsessing over doing anything related to writing the “right” or “wrong” way. The only way we learn what works best for us is by trying different things. There is no “one way.”
2. Setting writing goals that are too big/ambitious. You should push yourself, but not to the point of forcing yourself into a state of overwhelm/anxiety. If you have to set small goals, even just for today, set small goals.
3. Refusing to use anything other than your “go-to” writing tool — e.g., if you don’t have your laptop with you, you won’t write. Learn to write anywhere, with anything.
4. Insisting on writing everything in order from start to finish. If you feel inspired to write something but it doesn’t belong in your next sentence … skip your next sentence for now. Nothing is going to break.
5. Rereading everything you’ve already written every time you sit down to write more. A few sentences or paragraphs leading into your next one, maybe. But not all of it.
6. Asking “is there a better way to write this?” at some point on every page. Write now. Edit later.
7. Writing detailed backstories for every single character (if you’re writing fiction). I get why this is appealing during a first draft, but you don’t have to know everything about everyone. Learn more about them as you write them.
8. Feeling you need to ask for someone’s permission to write or not write something. If you want to write something a certain way, just do it. Worry about technicalities later.
9. Worrying about how “bad” you think your writing is. If you continuously tear yourself down, writing isn’t going to get any easier. Focus on improving instead. How do you improve? By writing more!
10. Waiting to be in “a good mood” to write. It’s 5:00 on a Friday, I’m tired, I want to be horizontal on a couch eating pizza by myself. Am I in the mood to write this blog post? No. Did I do it anyway — and have a great time? YES. Write, even when you don’t want to. It’s not going to hurt you.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.