Friday, May 22, 2015

Six Ways to Fail as a Writer

Whether you’re just starting or have already been published, these common missteps can sabotage your writing career.

1. Don’t read. You already know everything you need about story structure, characterization, and the market. Besides, who has time to read? That’s why people invented movies.

Uh, no. I already wrote a post on the importance of reading. It’s great for everyone, but it’s especially essential for writers. Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone who doesn’t read would want to write anyway.

2. Don’t write. You have lots of great ideas, but finding time to write is hard. When you do set aside some computer time, you waste it online. No worries, though. You’ll write later. Or maybe you can find someone else to do the work for you.

No, no, no. Writers write. Aspiring writers talk about writing. Which do you want to be? If you’re serious about being a writer, you’ll make time. 

3. Ignore the market. Your 500,000-word picture book is special enough to be the exception.

Sorry. Exceptions exist, but they're rare. That's why they're called exceptions. You shouldn't assume you'll be one.

4. Refuse criticism. Your words are golden, and anyone who says otherwise is either jealous or stupid.

Possibly. Probably not. No one’s perfect, and the same can be said of manuscripts. You don’t have to make every change that’s suggested, but you should at least consider the feedback you’re getting, especially if different people keep pointing out the same issues.

5. Take rejection personally. Your writing is your baby—nay, your soul. Anyone who rejects it also rejects you.

Rejection happens, for lots of different reasons. Maybe the agent or editor already had something similar. Maybe the agent or editor liked your work but didn’t love it or didn’t know how to market it. Maybe the agent or editor hated your work. It doesn’t matter. Don’t let rejection crush you.

6. Obsess over reviews. Once you’re finally published, devote every second of your waking life to analyzing bad or mediocre reviews. This is clearly the best—and healthiest—way to spend your time.

Nope. No piece of writing has ever been universally loved. Some people won’t like your work, and that’s okay. Get back to writing.

©Trent Black

Laurel Gale lives in the desert with her husband and a band of furry monsters that might actually be ferrets. She enjoys reading novels, playing board games, and learning about everything from history to science to grammar. Her debut middle grade novel, Dead Boy, comes out September 29, 2015, from Random House/Crown Books for Young Readers. 

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