Mistake 14: Not Doing Enough Work Prior to Starting Your Actual Work

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70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer's Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: Too often writers jump into their project before doing the necessary groundwork, and they end up with a mess. Revising can only do so much. Sometimes starting writing too quickly
can leave you with a project that can’t be saved and waste a lot of your time and energy. It’s easier to pick the best point of view for your story before writing. It’s easier to figure out your characters’ backstories and primary motivators before writing. It’s easier to develop and understand the antagonist’s plan before writing. Get the picture?

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Many of the mistakes listed here can be avoided prior to starting your writing.

The solution: Think through what you’re going to do before you do it. For every action you plan to take, ask yourself why, and make sure you have a good reason. Numerous writing books offer checklists for things like characters, but you actually almost need a checklist
for the entire writing project, covering all aspects of it, making sure you know what you plan to do and why you plan to do it.

Ultimately (and many new writers cringe to hear this) the best preparation for whatever form of writing you do—whether novel, short story, or article—is to create a practice form of that writing, toss it in a drawer, and then move on to another. For a novel writer, this is a particularly hard thing to hear.


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