Mistake. Not very popular word in our vocabulary and it is something you usually don’t want to hear about. But guess what, we are all just humans. And it means we all do make mistakes. It’s a natural part of learning curve and there is nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve been in research and writing for about twenty years and after 50+ published papers, numerous research projects, two dissertations, 3 books and year and a half of blogging, I still do make mistakes. And I don’t mean like grammar and typos. Sometimes I don’t manage to express myself as clearly as I wanted or at times I’m not assertive enough to share my work… but that all doesn’t matter.
I’m not talking about these kind of mistakes. I’m referring to behavioral attitudes that many young or new writers somehow acquire that can slow down or even hinder their success in writing as a profession.
First mistake: They don’t embrace their talent and passion (enough)
So you like to write. And you write daily. You have a favorite pen and notebook that you carry around with you all the time so you can write whenever you feel like. But your words never see the sunlight beyond the pages of your notebook. Or you have a novel captured in your computer file that you’ve been working on for ages, but you simply can’t finish it. I know. I’ve been there too. Most of writers have. You are afraid to share your writing. We all fear judgment, rejection, negative opinions. But these are all just opinions. Rejection letter is more a sign that you need to get deeper into your writing than it shows that you are a bad writer. It shows that you are trying and that’s what counts. In one of my recent posts I wrote:
Instead of thinking about fear, think of legacy you’ll leave behind.
Every writing will find it’s right reader. If it’s honest and authentic, it will. You must share your work. It’s the only way for your message to be heard and it is a perfect way for you to find motivation to improve your writing even more. You are building a bridge between you and that outer world you want to communicate with. The world that want to hear your story. The world that want to be part of your experience.
Embrace your love for writing: start blogging (if you aren’t already), submit that story or poem to your favorite journal and finish that first draft. Finish it and be proud of yourself.
Second mistake: They don’t test the water before diving in.
What I mean by this is that many writers hurry too much in advance to profile themselves as a fiction or non-fiction writers, short story writers and ext. I believe that the best approach you can apply is to experiment and simply play. Yes, play. Try different genres. No matter how uncomfortable it gets. Not only are you improving your writing skills this way, but you’ll get clearer picture of where you would like to go with your writing. Learn more about yourself this way. For instance, when I was seventeen I got fascinated with earthquakes and volcanoes. So my first degree is engineering in natural sciences. It was followed with job in research and teaching position. Than I branched out into management, still doing research and teaching. At one point I began to flirt with applying arts in learning programs and innovation management. And as I did somehow radically changed my fields of work and interests, they have something in common: writing and teaching – which is my predominant occupation today. One that is fulfilling, contributional and somehow connecting all my talents and skills together.
So try new things, don’t narrow yourself to one or two styles and writing genres. You are a writer who’s opinion, experience, ideas and creativity matters. Your writing matters and you don’t have to decide now what kind of writer you are. You are a writer. Period.
Third mistake: They don’t treat themselves as a real writers.
For me this is very simple. You are, or you are not a writer. Don’t proclaim yourself to be an aspiring writer, beginner writer or recreational writer. If you are serious about writing, than switch your mindset to think and treat yourself like a professional. You become what you identify yourself with. From that kind of thinking you will find motivation for inspired action to move into more professional realms. Educate and invest in yourself in mastering your writing skills and building an audience that can serve for your message to be shared and received by the world. That is what you want. And there is nothing wrong to get paid for your words and services. Does your writing bring valuable contribution? Does it entertains, offers solution or maybe people can learn form it? You can find freelance writing job opportunities in areas you are skilled or experienced in. It might be hard at the beginning in a highly competitive market but you have to start at some point if you want to become a full time writer. Search for additional paying opportunities like contests and journals. You can also offer a course and different types of content creation that are related to writing. But start early, start now.
These are three typical mistakes I have noticed that newbie writers often fall into. Instead of conclusion, I want to share this beautiful poem by Marge Pierce that so eloquently encapsulates all previously said. I hope it will inspire you to treat your craft as an expression of art, because ‘the real writer is one who really writes’.
For the young who want to
Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.
Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.
Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.
The reason people want M.F.A.’s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms
is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.
The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.
Further recommended reading:
How about you? What mistakes did you make when you first start writing? Please share in the comments below.
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