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Writing Pitfalls

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 12 Jun 2015 | comments*Discuss
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Anyone who says writing isn't a dodgy occupation obviously never became stuck in one of these common pitfalls. But it needn't be that way as many of them are avoidable. See if any of them ring a bell with your experiences as a professional author.

Waiting for Your Muse

One of the biggest writing pitfalls is falling for the erroneous belief that authors can only work when their muse(s) come to call. Therefore, if the muse is late or absent, the otherwise creative individual is incapable of putting words onto paper.

Instead of sitting around like a teenager who has been stood-up for a date, start jotting down your thoughts regardless of your level of internal inspiration. The more you write without your muse, the more you'll realise that he or she wasn't so important after all.

Saying No Too Often

Another pitfall that some writers experience is the feeling that they are "too good" or "too accomplished" to write for certain publications or editors. Though this might be true in a few cases, it's important not to slam every door shut; sometimes, putting together a short essay for a newbie webzine could be your ticket to a higher profile job.

Remember that you're not irreplaceable; unless you have a steady income as a writer and are constantly inundated with requests for more material, consider occasionally working for a little less or writing for a magazine or newspaper that's not on the tip of everyone's tongue.

Being Difficult

As in the case of saying "no" once too often, don't fall into the category of being a difficult writer. Though some demanding authors do get paid, they are the fortunate few. Most of us have to maintain a professional, cordial fa├žade to ensure that we keep getting assignments.

If you get a reputation for being tough to work with, you'll eventually find fewer opportunities to write at all, and that would be a dreadful loss to both you and your potential readers.

Losing Objectivity

Some writers become so engrossed in their works that they lose the ability to read them objectively. Thus, they can make no edits (and can therefore never get to a final draft stage) because they consider their work to be their "baby".

If you're starting to lose your objectivity, put your work aside for a time (if possible). If you're under deadline pressure and cannot bear to make any cuts or alterations to your "perfect" manuscript, ask a friend to edit it for you. (Or hire a professional editor to do it for an even more polished piece.)

Not Asking for Money

Unfortunately, many writers are not good business people. Thus, they don't ask for any money upfront and wind up getting behind on their bills.

Before you spend hours working for a publisher or writing for a magazine or newspaper, make sure you have a signed contract or get a portion of what you're being promised as a sign of "good faith." Most legitimate editors and some agents will negotiate on this point without blinking. If you don't take yourself seriously enough to protect your financial interests, no one else will, either.

By being mindful of these common writing pitfalls, you will become a better, more well-respected, and more prolific writer.

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Hiya I think you should put in a website for children to understand, because I did not understand it.
lottie - 12-Jun-15 @ 7:12 PM
@michael - first of all congratulations on publishers being interested in your work. Publishers will usually come forward with an offer and will tell you what they are willing to pay, as they quite often have set principles. As it is your first time you may want to see what each one is offering and make your decision based upon that. When you have a few publishers banging on your door offering you future writing deals, then that is when you can start to negotiate properly. Wishing you the best of luck.
Charlie - 14-Apr-15 @ 11:48 AM
Hi there. I just started writing i have completed 5 short stories and my first horror has attracted the attention of several publishers. each have said i am a very talented writer. having read your advice should i ask for a fee upfront? or wait for them to make an offer? as a new author i think we sometimes go cap in hand waiting for them to make the first move. what do you think. michael
michael - 10-Apr-15 @ 10:17 PM
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