Alright, let’s keep this simple. All of you have no doubt made mistakes as authors. It comes with the territory and with the simple fact of being human. We make mistakes and we sometimes stumble; but it is okay. It is okay so long as we learn from our downfalls and do our best to rise above our weaknesses.
So what are the 5 biggest mistakes authors make?
1) They let Fear and Self Doubt Inhibit their Writing
I know you’ve felt this one before. You get this great idea only to wonder ‘why would anyone care about this?’ Doubt is good, it allows us to see our shortcomings and to apply an angle of perfectionism to our work. We want to overcome our doubt. However, do not try to overcompensate by overwriting and overplotting. If you like your story, if you like your idea – go for it. If you are doubting your ability as a writer then the best thing you can do is practice. Write and write, write about new ideas, old ideas, craft fanfiction try a new genre, and get it all down. Then take a deep breath and showcase some of your work. Criticism helps authors grow – you must not fear it. Accepting constructive criticism can only aid your journey as a writer.
2) They Overwrite
Adjectives are your friend, but use more than you need and you’ll come across as verbose and busy. Quality over quantity; more words do not equal better writing. Use effective words, words that say a lot and have great power. Yet utilize restraint. You can always add more, but it is difficult to cut your work down.
3) They Compare
You are not Proust. You are not Keats. You are not Lewis, Rowling, Tolkien, King, Martin…etc. You are you. Do not let authors who have already been published determine the author you wish to become. You are your own writer and you have your own stories to tell. Allow other authors and communities to inspire you, to assist you on your journey, and to act as mentors. Do not let them hold you back simply because you are not the same person. You were never meant to be anybody else.
4) They Do Not Read
Good writers are readers. Pick up books, read all sorts of genres, explore characters, and never stop reading. Good writers know what readers want, and to know what a reader wants you must be a reader yourself. You cannot expect somebody to pick up your book if you will not pick up a book yourself.
5) They Think Small
Think big! Think blockbuster! The worst thing you can do for your writing is limit your story and your ability. This does not mean writing a future film, or hitting a certain word limit, it just means going above and beyond what you thought you were capable of. You have a comfort zone and you can push it. Apply pressure to what you know and turn your writing into something you never expected. Read, write, practice, join an author community, and accept your flaws. But never, ever be limited.
These are simple things. Basic, but full of human nature and instinct. You do all of these things I am sure. You will do them again. It’s okay though, because if you are aware of your mistakes you can try to avoid making them again. The best advice you can be given as an author: do not hide. Do not hide from criticism, from anxiety, from the world around you. You write because you have a story to tell – so go on, tell it.