There are hundreds, even thousands of variables that can kill a dream before it builds any momentum. People can lose sight of their goals, become lazy, run into obstacles or encounter almost anything else. Writing is no different. Desiring to love it and to win are critical in becoming a writer who avoids permanent failure. Sadly, most wannabe-writers put writing off, or allow careless mistakes to undermine their potential.
In the first two posts of How To Become A Better Writer, we laid the foundation for writing well and creating your own habits to master writing. In this post, we’ll talk about writing killers – pitfalls to watch out for and help others avoid, too.
Ray Bradbury always said you should write what must be written – leave all the swearing and cursing in, too. You shouldn’t feel like you have to censor yourself as a writer.
If something painful needs to be said, speak it! Write it down. Share it with your audience. If your audience is excited about what you’re doing and they resonate with what you’re writing, they will respond as such.
Countless writers avoid writing the painful, necessary things simply because it’s not always fun. Yet, shunning what needs to be said is one of the surest paths to failure. Below are my top 10 observations of writing killers – things that almost certainly spell death for your writing career.
1. Edit So Ruthlessly Nothing Of Your Original Voice Is Left
If you’re to make an impact with your writing, you must write with integrity. It’s essential to write with your innate voice, not something scripted or rehashed from someone else.
Every writer can become successful if they know the right tools and approach.Every writer can become successful if they know the right tools and approach. Click To Tweet
It’s not about ditching your natural voice for someone else’s; it’s about using the voice that already resonates within you to reach the audience that’s waiting for you.
If an editor comes along and suggests sterilizing your writing to such a degree that none of your voice or original message is left, ditch the editor. It’s better to write as you originally envisioned it, flaws and all, than to “clean it up” to such an extent that your actual original writing and voice are gone.
2. Take Swear Words Out
If expletives are a characteristic part of your writing, keep them in there. A huge part of writing is about self-expression, and the freedom to share a message with the world.
If your message or piece is violent, let it be said violently. If it’s sad, use sadness. If it’s encouraging, let courage be breathed into your reader. This applies to any genre and any style. Keep all the emotion, color, depth and passion in. Writing is most powerful when it’s most emotive. Write to sway and hold nothing back!Writing is most powerful when it's most emotive. Click To Tweet
3. Think You’ll “Make It” With One Book
Most writers never “make it” with one book. Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, James Patterson and hundreds of others all have more than one book. It’s foolish, selfish, short-sighted and impractical to think you’ll be well on your way to making millions (or even hundreds of thousands) with one book.
Plus, writing is about the joy of writing! James Patterson has been known to write six days out of the week; this is because he loves the craft so much. You should aim for the same with your own writing!
You should obviously do research and make an effort to make money from your work, but never place the goal of money before anything else. It should always be a piece of the puzzle that serves its place, not the ultimate crown itself.
4. Even If You Do, One Book Is Enough
As I shared earlier, you should regularly be producing content if you genuinely love writing. Even in the extremely rare case that you write one book and you can live off it for the rest of your life, you should be writing new books for your fans and supporters. People who love one thing often want the next production!
Never allow yourself to be “above” others, regardless of the level of success you achieve. The most successful (and fulfilled) people are those who give back to others; those who push forward to help even more people discover their one-of-a-kind niche within the world.The most successful people are those who give back to others. Click To Tweet
5. Think You’ll Always Be Better Than Certain People
Just like I mentioned a moment ago, you aren’t better than anyone, period. Becoming a writer doesn’t mean you get to stand on any kind of pedestal.
In fact, it’s the opposite. Writing is an extremely privileged calling through which you have the power to touch millions of lives – literally millions. You have somewhat of an obligation to help people if you’re privileged and blessed to have a platform.
What’s more, if people aren’t getting the solutions and care they want, they’ll quickly go seek out someone else. In other words, if you aren’t looking after your audience, they’ll start depleting your audience. Care, empathy, solutions and empowerment are all critical elements in the walk towards success.
6. Think You Can’t Learn From Those Just Starting Out
There is always an opportunity to learn from writers who are new in the field. Oftentimes, writers who are publishing their first few works are perfect examples of voices that have not been completely tainted by the world or “corporate expectations” yet.
It’s great to pay attention to new writers because you can learn a variety of things. You can experience a writing voice and perspective that you’ve never encountered before, you can discover what’s working well in the current marketplace, and you can come across incredible new ideas that never crossed your mind before.
7. Not Help Other Writers
One of the fastest ways to succeed through writing is to help other writers. Countless people overlook this, which is quite sad, when all elements have been considered. Most people view helping others as a burden or a chore, rather than an opportunity and a privilege.
Yes – in many instances it takes a bit of time to see the ground-level good in helping someone else get on their feet. But it only becomes more enriching and enjoyable as the months go by. Finding out what someone else is excited about and helping them get closer to achieving it is a feeling like none other. Millions of people chase money, thinking it will be the solution. Yet, hundreds of millionaires know that the secret to an unbelievable life is uniquely helping people through your work.
8. Think That Fiction Is Better Than Non-Fiction, So On
There’s no genre that’s better than another. There aren’t even necessarily writers who are better than another – simply writers who know how to connect with more readers. Fiction has thousands of fantastic books to pick from, and so does non-fiction. It’s foolish to pretend like one one style of writing is somehow more “excellent” than another. There are different styles of writing for different purposes.
Often times, the main reason people claim one style is worse than another is because that particular reader never had the opportunity to enjoy a book they liked in a given category. We must remember there are hundreds of bad or weak books out there for the thousands of great ones.
To get the ultimate reading experience, I recommend reading all kinds of fiction and non-fiction! Passing on fiction means you’re missing out on tons of creative concepts that can help you think more creatively and holistically as a writer. Passing on non-fiction means you’re missing out on practical, time-tested tips and strategies that help you succeed in a flesh-and-blood world. Enjoy the benefits and power of both!Enjoy the benefits and power of all kinds of writing! Click To Tweet
9. Avoid Learning More About Writing
It’s always a good time to learn more about writing! The best writers are always immersed in their craft, finding new ways and words with which to connect themselves to readers. There is so much content and literary gold in the world of writing and reading; if you’re passionate enough about it, there’s enough to fill up a lifetime with! Even as you become successful and begin to help others achieve their goals, continue your own work for sake of integrity, curiosity and pure enjoyment. There’s nothing better than filling your days with work you love.
10. Stop Writing
If you truly love something, you’ll do it ’til the day you die! Writing is one of the most versatile skills/hobbies/passions you can engage in, and it’s so flexible and open-ended that you can truly take it anywhere. I hope you’re encouraged to write forever!If you truly love something, you'll do it 'til the day you die! Click To Tweet
Remember: Avoid these mindsets and actions at all costs. This post was entitled “Writing Killers” for a reason. Stay away from these bad habits and your writing will remain on a pedestal of quality. As Vince Lombardi said, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Becoming great at a skill is not merely about doing it over and over again – you must be attentive to your methods and manner within practice.
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