To do, or not to do..? Well, that really is the question today. Here are ten things a writer should never do.
As you learn the craft of writing you’re often told how to do certain things and seldom told what you should never do.
While writing is a creative endeavor that reflects each individual writer, you still need to be aware of what not to do. While the process of putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard are paramount, you must also remember that manners and general knowledge of what writers should never do, is invaluable.
I’ve been writing for a lifetime and these lessons today need to be taken seriously. As you move forward in your craft, I’m sure these things will get easier.
1. As a Writer… You Should Never Publish Your First Draft
I remember the feeling of euphoria when I finished the rough draft of my first book. The story had bounced around in my head for a long time and I was very proud of the fact that I finished it. The fact that I developed characters and a story sent me soaring to the moon. After I wrote “The End” I felt finished–with the story and the writing. Well, wasn’t I in for a rude awakening. lol.
Ernest Hemingway was quoted as saying : “The first draft of anything is shit.” That says it all, but I didn’t think mine was shit at all.
I thought mine was pretty darn good, thank you very much. Let’s face it, actually finishing the project is a huge accomplishment and I felt like a rockstar. Many who start a book, never finish it, but I did, and I wanted the world to know it.
Some writers’ feel like this and go forward with self publication and this is a big mistake. Don’t do it. In fact, by publishing your first draft, you do yourself a huge disservice by not taking the time to clean and edit the manuscript. What may be good, now doesn’t have the opportunity to be brilliant.
You only get one shot to take that same piece of work and make a positive impression. Whether you’re going to self pub or try the traditional route, the book needs to be as polished and as perfect as possible.
Let that first draft marinate for a while. Go back and read it and then rewrite it. Take a deep breath and take your time. Look HERE for some awesome writing tips from writer and author, John Mavin. Perhaps you’ll want to consider a blind rewrite.
My book ended up being rewritten at least six times and no longer resembles the rough draft. It’s still looking for it’s forever home though.
2. As a Writer… You Should Never Try and Do All Your Own Edits
This ‘never’ is one that goes back to the first draft and the need to rewrite.
What happens with writers is their eyes begin to deceive them. I know mine will magically replace the incorrect word with what I meant to type. It gets to the point where you know your manuscript inside and out and having to read it another time may actually frazzle your brain.
It’s imperative that you have an editor. Yes, I do know how expensive they are, but there are some who may negotiate with you and cut your a break. It never hurts to ask.
For a complete novel I have a specific way of doing an edit. See the steps HERE. Follow the steps and that will get you closer to a clean manuscript, but no matter what, you still need someone else to read it.
Don’t try and edit your own work.
Fresh eyes are necessary. It could be a friend, a spouse, or a hired person (maybe a local writing student can do it). You want to know that your timeline is intact, your spelling and grammar are corrected, and things like passive voice and show don’t tell are adhered to.
While we can say that story trumps craft, if a manuscript is so poorly written and left unedited, it reflects back on the author in a negative way.
3. As a Writer… You Should Never Ignore or Negate Constructive Criticism
If you want to grow as a writer then you must be willing to take constructive criticism. If you share your work, people will have an opinion–and that’s okay. There will be good and bad, but what you really want to listen for is the constructive criticism.
An example. If you read a part of your story/book to your writers’ group perhaps and someone says…character “A” didn’t feel authentic to me because a child of seven wouldn’t use advanced vocabulary as you have.
It’s a critique, not a negative comment, and it is said in the spirit of making your work better. Listen carefully and contemplate the remarks. Maybe there’s something to it. Know that if one person has those thoughts, someone else will too. Make appropriate adjustments if you can.
If the criticism comes from an industry professional, maybe at a conference blue pencil, or an agent, then you really need to listen. When someone starts picking your work apart, it’s hard because the knee jerk reaction is to defend your creations–I totally get that. What you need to keep in mind though is the possibility (heck, probability) of manuscript/craft issues and be willing to discuss and fix them.
Don’t tell another writer, an agent, an editor, or reader that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Drop the bravado defense, shut your mouth, and listen.
If you want to piss everyone off and publish subpar work without taking the criticism seriously, then by all means, go for it, but don’t whine to anyone when there are no sales or you get negative reviews.
It should be your goal as a writer to create, and distribute, the best product that you can, so be willing to listen and learn.
4. As a Writer… You Should Never Pass Up A Chance to Share Your Work.
Being able to share your work is an opportunity to gain confidence, own your creativity, and of course, market your work.
It doesn’t matter where you are, if you’re asked about your book then you should be ready to chat about it. You may even want to carry a copy or two in the car.
There are times, like at a writing group, a retreat, or a conference where organizers may offer open slots for readers. Passing up on such an opportunity is not an option.
There are also a lot of open mikes in different coffee bars or pubs. Look for these. Go listen to other people read and share their poetry, or short stories, or parts of a novel. Watch how they do it and then develop a style for yourself.
As a writer, you must be able to stand before an audience and share your work. Hey, what’s going to happen when you have that best seller and you’re invited to guest on a popular talk show.
Start practicing now.
5. As a Writer…You Should Never Plagiarize or Try and Present Other’s Work As Your Own.
While you’d think this is simply common sense, it’s still an issue today. Who knows what motivates a person to steal another’s creative work, but it happens all the time. And really, if you look at it, the motivation doesn’t matter because the practice sucks.
Be true to yourself and be respectful of others’.
Here’s how Wikipedia defines plagiarism.
Plagiarism is the representation of another author’s language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions as one’s own original work. In educational contexts, there are differing definitions of plagiarism depending on the institution. Plagiarism is considered a violation of academic integrity and a breach of journalistic ethics.Source: Wikipedia
Don’t be stupid enough to believe that you can pass someone else’s work off as your own. Feel free to be inspired by the tone, the words, and the story but you must do the work to write your own original work.
Repeat after me: Plagiarism is wrong under any and all circumstances and writers should never do it.
6. As a Writer… You Should Never Respond To A Rejection Letter or Negative Review.
Rejection and other negative stuff, unfortunately go hand-in-hand with writing. That’s something you’ll have to get used to.
Let’s look at rejection.
It’s one of those things that could send you spiraling down as you begin to question whether or not you should be a writer. Many say that when you get a rejection, then you know you’re in the game because at least you’re sending your work out there. Well, that doesn’t always feel better.
In fact, rejection just generally sucks. Check HERE to read what happened when I got a letter saying I didn’t win a contest I’d entered.
Sometimes, you may want to reach out and ask about the reasons for a rejection and a writer should never do this.
First, whoever did the rejecting may not be the contact person, second, people in the industry are busy, and third, it’s done–no matter what you say, the decision will not be changed.
Rejection is one of those subjective things that doesn’t necessarily make sense to all. Personality, bias, and the day of the week can all affect the person who’s making the decisions. Don’t take it personally.
Living with rejection is just a part of the equation.
A writer could also face a lot of negativity on writing forums, in online book reviews, or social media. There are nasty trolls and other idiots out there who have nothing but time to try and make your life miserable. Do not engage…no matter how tempted you are–don’t take the bait.
As a writer don’t try to justify or argue a point of your work with anyone not aligned with you. They don’t care. Block them. Be aware, report to administrators as you see fit, and then step back. Do not engage.
7. As a Writer… You Should Never Compare Yourself to Other Writers
Believe me when I say, if you compare yourself to other writers, you’ll never measure up. Sad but true. There are many who are better than you, and many who are worse.
BUT, they are not YOU.
Comparing yourself to other writers is an important thing to avoid.
Be aware and grasp the notion, that writing is not a competitive sport. Click HERE to read further. Your thinking, your brain, and your experiences are yours alone. No one else can write like you and you can’t write like them.
It’s like trying to compare a mighty oak to a fragrant rose. Both come from nature, both are appreciated for their beauty, but they come from such different places and are present for different reasons. How can you possibly compare the two?
Embrace your own style and voice. That’s what makes you special as a writer. Be who you are. Trying to be something you’re not, will never work and you’ll fail miserably.
Writer envy goes along with comparing yourself to others. If you get stuck in a head space of thinking the other writer that you’re jealous of, has it easier, always get picked, always wins, writes better, etc. etc. Realize this for what it is….
It’s your own insecurities projecting negativity toward the other writer. Sounds petty and immature doesn’t it? If you want all those things then get your ass in the chair and start writing. Wasting time on longings and envy is just that–a waste of time.
Celebrate the accolades of other writers as this puts you on a path of positivity and self-acceptance. You are capable of doing what it takes to write a novel.
If you get caught up in the comparison and/or envy game, you’ll end up sliding down the rabbit hole of imposter syndrome and not get anything done. Read more HERE about how I almost slipped down that very hole.
Worry about yourself, not the other guy. You got this.
8. As a Writer… You Should Never Box Yourself Into One Genre or Style
Write what you want to write. Don’t think that just because your first book was a historical romance that your next book has to follow.
Be who you are.
Write what you want to write.
Go where your imagination takes you.
Perhaps you also dabble in poetry or thrillers? How exciting is that?!
9. As a Writer… You Should Never Expect to Earn a Million Dollars or Have Your Book Made Into a BlockBuster Movie
If you write a book with the idea of becoming rich and famous, chances are very high you’ll be disappointed. There are a lot of great books out there and you need to be realistic as to where yours is going to fit in.
I guess if Ron Howard is your cousin, or Oprah Winfrey is your Auntie, then you may have a shot, but that’s not likely. You’re a writer. Work hard and present the best product you can.
Instead of trying to get Hollywood’s attention, write a book you can be proud of and write it for yourself. Let it come through your heart and onto the page. Its beginnings may be humble, but you’ll shape it to be what you want it to be and over time it’ll gain an audience.
Keep the expectations at bay and just write. If it’s meant to be discovered, then it will be. Just write.
10. As a Writer… You Should Never Stop Writing and Creating
Writers are a unique group of people. Faced with a blank page they’re able to put down words to build a world of characters and bring them to life.
This is a gift. Believe that.
Some people will stare at the inside of a birthday card and not know what to write. They’re not writers, but you are. You can write anything, anywhere, at any time, and you must never stop.
That gift within you, is a part of who you are. Your voice is unique and no one can duplicate it.
Writing comes in many forms and styles. There’s novels, poetry, flash fiction, nonfiction, essays, articles… You have many choices and ways to keep yourself going.
You now know the ten things that writers should never do. Read them. Commit them to memory and then continue to write. Go forth and conquer.
Thank you for reading my post. I hope you enjoyed it. Remember to like and comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject and I welcome questions. Don’t forget to follow below.
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