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Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Believing Naysayers

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is believing naysayers, whether they're family or professionals.

Everyone makes mistakes—even writers—but that's OK because each mistake is a great learning opportunity. The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them early in the process. Note: The mistakes in this series aren't focused on grammar rules, though we offer help in that area as well.

(Grammar rules for writers.)

Rather, we're looking at bigger picture mistakes and mishaps, including the error of using too much exposition, hiding your pitch, or chasing trends. This week's writing mistake writers make is believing the naysayers.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Believing Naysayers

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Believing Naysayers

This week's writing mistake is one that I feel strongly about, because I know so many writers and could-have-been-writers who stumbled (and/or are still stumbling) as a result of it: That is, writers letting the naysayers in their lives crush their writing dreams and ambitions. There's nothing worse than learning that someone wrote throughout their childhood and young adult years only to run into a family member, "friend," or professional (in academia or publishing) who stopped the it with their criticisms.

(7 Self-Editing Processes for Writers.)

Now don't get me wrong. I'm an editor; I make my living by trying to identify and correct mistakes that writers (including myself) make. It's a very critical occupation, and I'm not doing my job if I'm not trying to point out mistakes and trouble areas. And writers aren't doing their job if they don't try to take constructive feedback to heart and continually improve their writing.

But there is a huge gap in listening to feedback to improve your writing and letting the naysayers trick you into believing that you shouldn't write. Regardless of their reasoning for making such a statement, they're wrong: You should be writing.

Mistake Fix: Keep Writing

I will admit that one of my super powers (or problem areas) is that I can be very contrary when someone tells me to do something without any proof to back up why it's a good idea. For instance, as an incoming freshman in college, I was told that freshmen could not take creative writing courses, but I didn't understand why, so I added it to my already full load. And I'm glad I did.

(The 7 Deadly Sins of Novelists According to Editors.)

If someone tells you that you should give up writing because it's hard and/or doesn't pay money, keep writing. If someone tells you to give up writing because you write in cliches and/or don't have any talent, keep writing. If someone tells you to quit it with that writing because you're too young or too old, keep writing. And be glad that you do.

Writing can be about publishing. Writing can be about recognition. Writing can be about changing minds and hearts and making a difference in the world. Writing can even be about making a living. But beyond that, writing is about getting to know more about the world—both the external world around you and the internal world inside you. Don't let anyone take that away from you.

So listen to people if they say to avoid double-spacing after periods and to use Oxford (or serial) commas. But if they try to tell you, for any reason, that you should quit writing, tune them out and write anyway. Who knows where it will take you? You'll never know until you write it out.

*****

Get Published in 2022: Breaking In Resource Directory

Breaking into traditional book publishing can be tough work. After you write and revise the book, there’s finding an agent or an independent publisher, which involves time spent researching instead of what you really want to be doing—writing. So, Writer’s Digest has done the work for you with this 144-page guide. The Get Published in 2022: Breaking In Resource Directory collects the resources you need to make 2022 the year your book gets published.

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