With more than 100 years of authority, the Writer's Digest team has collected a lot of great advice and tips on how writers have found success over the years. We've also witnessed many mistakes by writers who have not found success as well as anecdotes from successful authors remembering past mistakes that blocked them early in their careers.
It's nearly impossible to find success without making (many) mistakes along the way. However, we don't want to sit on the sidelines and see writers repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
So we've collected 14 common writing mistakes writers make along with tips on how to fix them. The list below shares the mistake with a brief explanation. Just click the link for the mistake to find a more detailed explanation and correction strategy.
14 Common Writing Mistakes Writers Make (and How to Fix Them)
- Waiting for inspiration to strike. We believe inspiration exists; we just don't believe in waiting around for it to strike before trying to write.
- Writing oversimplified characters. Sure, the characters in your fictional story aren't real, but they should feel real to your reader.
- Talking about the work-in-progress. It's natural to be excited about what you're writing, but talking about your WIP too much can lead to writer's block.
- Relying on perfect conditions to write. Let's face it; the conditions will never be perfect for most people, will they?
- Worrying about what happens when you make it big. Don't get caught up fretting about being a famous and wealthy author before you're actually there.
- Providing a lack of conflict. We love our characters and want the best for them, but no conflict means no story means bored (or a lack of) readers.
- Trying to write for everyone. In the real world, you can't please everyone (you just can't), and the same holds true for readers.
- Allowing self-doubt to guide you. This is one of the worst (and most common) mistakes, because self-doubt comes from within, not without.
- Neglecting research. Writers don't need to know everything about everything, but they should know a little about what they write.
- Not knowing when to shelve a project. Writing is not an "all or nothing" activity; it's OK to put a manuscript to the side while working on other projects.
- Refraining to revise writing. Regardless of genre, the writing you read from successful writers is rarely the first draft; it almost always goes through revision.
- Revising while writing. That said, many writers who get too focused on revision while writing their first draft are susceptible to never finishing that first draft.
- Not using your spare 15 minutes. It can often feel like "real life" doesn't want people to be able to write. So writers have to learn how to use their "spare time" accordingly.
- Omitting sensory details. Leaving out sensory details in writing is one of the best ways to make writing feel empty for readers.
We hope this list of writing mistakes and how to fix them is completely alien to you, but we also know most writers have run into at least a few (if not all) of these at some point or another. We also know this list is not complete and would love to know your "favorite" writing mistake you've had to overcome in the comments below.
If you love to write and have a story you want to tell, the only thing that can stand between you and the success you’re seeking isn’t craft, or a good agent, or enough Facebook friends and Twitter followers, but fear. Fear that you aren’t good enough, or fear the market is too crowded, or fear no one wants to hear from you. Fortunately, you can’t write while being in the flow and be afraid simultaneously. The question is whether you will write fearlessly.