Nancy’s Notes: Mistakes New Authors Make
Mistakes new authors make
New authors…we’ve all been there. Some scribble out a story but are afraid to let the world see. Others shout it from the mountaintops before finding out that the mountain is a bit more slippery than they thought. So here are some of my favorite mistakes new authors make.
- Education: Seasoned writers know the value of reading books, reading books about writing, reading blogs, articles, and columns about writing. New authors often skip this part. Instead,
they arrive in a Facebook group and ask, “How do you start writing?” There are no shortcuts. The writers in the group are probably glad to assist in some areas but nobody has the time to teach you how to write.
- Criticism: New authors are usually not truly ready for constructive criticism. Even if they say they want the work to be torn apart, they haven’t developed the thick skin necessary to deal with it or the education to understand what the others authors are saying. We have a specialized vocabulary in writing and it is one that needs to be learned. Nobody, except those rare, somewhat disturbed, individuals, wants to crush a new writer. If you encounter this type of person just consider the source and move on.
- Listening to everyone: Everybody has an opinion and you have to be careful which ones you take. I’ve met folks who claim to have degrees and multiple publications, only to find out they lack in other areas. Nobody is right all the time and, if they claim to be, run! Don’t try to make everyone around you happy. You are the author. You create the story in your vision.
- Listening to nobody: There was a writer in one of the groups who posted a piece that read like he had his thesaurus open in front of him the whole time. Now, I love my thesaurus but I know to check the implied meanings of a word, not just the definition. Well, this guy got his nose seriously out of joint because the group critiqued the work and he took great offense. I will guarantee that if he tried to interest a publisher, they would say no because, ultimately, it didn’t make sense. Don’t let your emotions get involved. I know, easy to say, hard to do.
- Not having the right tools: Even in the age when the computer dominates the scene, I still suggest a good dictionary and thesaurus. Roget’s Thesaurus is my favorite, not the dictionary style but the old ‘look it up in back, find the number, and go there’ type. It is so much better at giving the right intonation and implication of a word. The best time for writing supplies is during back to school. Stock up on notebooks, pens, and my favorite, Post-It notes in all colors and sizes. .
- Throwing away old work: Keep your early stories. Not only will it remind you of how far you have come but the original ideas may spark a rewrite on another whole level.
- Publication and Submissions: Do not and I repeat, DO NOT submit your work until an editor or at least a fellow, more experienced writer has looked it through. Spelling and Grammar check do not even begin to catch all the errors. ProWritingAid, one of the many editing tools, is good but it still lacks human eyes to catch continuity and plot errors. Learn how to write a query letter. It is the most hated piece of writing an author will ever create but it is also the one chance you have to snag an agent or publisher.
- Giving up: We all get discouraged. At that point you have to remember why you started writing in the first place…the joy of writing. There is a saying: Anyone can be a writer but not all will become authors. Come to grips with it now. Do what you do because you love it, not because you want to see your name on a book. The goal is achievable, especially in self publishing, but it requires a huge commitment on the writer’s part. Don’t give up.
Life will hit you with distractions and obstacles but a new writer needs to recognize them and maintain their perspective. To stress about writing is to take away the joy and then it becomes a chore. Writers have enough in our lives that are chores, requirements, and expectations without ruining our creativity.