Everyone makes mistakes—even writers—but that's okay 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.
Rather, we're looking at bigger picture mistakes and mishaps, including the error of using too much exposition, neglecting research, or researching too much. This week's writing mistake writers make is putting off submissions.
Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Putting Off Submissions
I have a confession to make: It has been FOREVER since I've submitted any of my poetry to an online or print publication. Believe me, I've been writing, but I just haven't been getting together my poetry packages (of three to five poems) and sending them out. As a result, I haven't had any new poems published in poetry publications in quite a while (we can say FOREVER here too, I suppose).
Here's one big thing about submitting your writing: When you submit it, you could be rejected.
But here's an even bigger thing about submitting your writing: When you don't submit it, you can't be accepted. It's like almost 100 percent odds (because sometimes people will submit your work after you've passed).
Of course, there are reasons to slow your roll when it comes to submitting your writing. For instance, if I start a story this morning and finish the first draft this afternoon, it's probably a bad idea for me to submit it this evening. I should give it (and myself) a little time to breathe and go through the revision process.
But if I finished something to the best of my ability a month ago and can't get anywhere else with it, then I need to quit coming up with excuses to let it collect dust in a folder or get lost in the cloud. I need to send that story (or poem or pitch) out and see what happens!
Mistake Fix: Eliminate Excuses
This is one of those super common writing mistakes that can be caused by several situations. For me, I just haven't been making the time to send poems out. For someone else, it may be a fear of rejection that is keeping their work on their computer. Another writer may be a perfectionist and can't stand the thought of sending something out that's not just right. And there are likely several other excuses, but that's what they are (if we're honest with ourselves, whether they're valid or not): Excuses, excuses, excuses.
To fix this common mistake, I want you to sit down with yourself and be completely honest when answering this question: What is keeping me from submitting my work?
Take your time thinking about the reasons. The REAL reasons.
Make a list if you need to, because maybe there are more than one reasons.
Then, I want you to take those reasons and label them what they are: Excuses. And I want you to start coming up with a plan for each excuse on how you're going to eliminate that excuse and when.
Again, this list is only for you (to get started anyway), so be completely honest. If you don't have any writing to submit, then make a plan for how you will eliminate that excuse. Maybe you'll spend a few hours a week writing. If you don't have time to submit your work, then make a plan to eliminate that excuse. If you don't feel that you have the will power to do it, then maybe you need to make yourself accountable to someone else (maybe a family member or another writer) who will occasionally ask how everything is going.
The chances are pretty good that the more you submit your writing the more you will find rejection. But take heart that most successful writers had to go through a lot of rejection to find success. Nearly none of them made it without submitting their work in the first place.
2nd Draft provides a high-level review of your writing, pointing out reasons your work may be getting rejected, or may not meet the standards of traditional publication. After an evaluation of your submission, one of the professional 2nd Draft critiquers will provide feedback and advice. You’ll not only learn what’s working in your writing, but what’s not, and—most important—how to fix it..