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What writerly mistakes have you made?


My old gran used to say, 'Smart folks try to learn from their mistakes, the wise ones try to learn from other people's.' With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to hear about some of the big writerly-type mistakes people feel they've made, and what they learned from them.

As you might imagine, I've made a fair few myself, but if I had to pick, I'd say these are the two biggest so far:

NOT REALIZING THE IMPORTANCE OF LEARNING HOW TO WRITE PROPERLY
From the Spring of 2003 to the Winter of 2007, I wrote four complete novels, at least I thought they were complete. In reality, they were little more than poorly-written first drafts. 

What I should have also been doing during that time was working to improve my craft, but in my blissful ignorance, I didn't realize there was so much about writing that I didn't even know I didn't know. If I'd taken the time to find out, those drafts would have turned out much better.

YOU HAVE TO KEEP WRITING NEW FICTION
In December of 2009, when Echelon Press offered me a contract for Fur-Face, I made the mistake of confusing editing work and book promotion with actual writing. Although I did a fair bit of work outlining several new book ideas (an important part of my writing process), I wrote very few new words of fiction in 2010.

In January of this year, I had to force myself to make it a priority. After almost six months, I feel like I'm at last back on track. I have a good routine now which seems to work for me. 

How about you?

What are the biggest writerly mistakes you've made?



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Comments

( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
temporus
Jun. 20th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
Believing someone else's opinion of myself, my ability, and what I might be able to accomplish.
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
Ooh, good one, Ed.

Thanks for sharing :)
peadarog
Jun. 20th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
My mistake was in never writing enough.
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC)
Well, with a second book just published, you're not doing too bad though :)
(no subject) - peadarog - Jun. 20th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 20th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peadarog - Jun. 20th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 20th, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
Good one, Nark. Thanks for sharing :)
snapes_angel
Jun. 20th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
Not coming to the point quickly enough (for a short story, anyway). Except, of course, when it involves punnery (and even then, some people don't "get it"-half the fun of a punnery is the setup)!
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
I remember all those shaggy dog stories with awful pun endings when I was a kid. Great fun :)
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
mutive
Jun. 20th, 2011 04:33 pm (UTC)
My biggest? Probably the same as yours - not learning from my writing, and instead just writing lots and lots of garbage.

Also, not listening to critiques. (I'd always listen to them politely, but until recently, unless they were super specific, I'd be like, "They don't understand me" and ignore them. Bad idea!)

Also, in not reading critically. My writing grew a lot once I started examining what makes me like or not like a short story or novel. Once I realized "oh, that's how they do it..." I was better able to use these tricks in my own writing, and understand where critiques were coming from.
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
The only trouble with reading critically is how difficult it is to switch off :(
(no subject) - mutive - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mutive - Jun. 20th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Jun. 20th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Jun. 20th, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mutive - Jun. 20th, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Jun. 20th, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
misha_mcg
Jun. 20th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
Adverbs and dialogue attribution that was anything except "said."
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
Is that so, he asked, curiously :)
(no subject) - misha_mcg - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
msstacy13
Jun. 20th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC)


I was actually looking for
"I've never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong."
but this one is also good.

But my point, if I have one,
is that writing isn't like cooking or selling insurance.

Mistakes?
No, not really, just profound and prolonged learning opportunities.

Does the tomato on the vine make a mistake in not ripening sooner?
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC)
That depends on whether or not it decided it wanted to be a tomato?
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
bogwitch64
Jun. 20th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
My biggest mistake was in thinking it was a good idea to let non-writer friends read those first, horrid drafts I did when I first started writing "for real." Ugh--so embarrassed now! But, really, it wasn't a mistake. They sucked royally and I am embarrassed that so many read THAT representation of my writing, but had I not done so, I might not still be writing today, so...
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
I'm impressed your friends asked to read your work in the first place. Not all writers have that kind of support :)
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 20th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
mongrelheart
Jun. 20th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
I sent a really crappy novel to a major NYC publishing house believing it was "my best work". Which was undoubtedly a big mistake, & got me a form rejection. The thing is, at that point in my development as a writer, that crappy novel *was* my best work so far. But in the greater scheme of things, it was total dreck. So I think the bigger mistake was being too in a hurry to submit before I had sufficiently developed my craft.

Another mistake I made was to get the idea in my head that I should write a trilogy. Have cured myself of that now ;)
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
I think trilogies are great, provided you actually have three, independent stories to tell, as opposed to one extremely long one.
ideealisme
Jun. 20th, 2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
I wrote the wrong novel. Twice.
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
Oops :)
martyn44
Jun. 20th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
Point of View. Point of bloody View! Something towards which I have a manifest blindness.
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that one can be a bit tricksy :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jun. 20th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC)
Getting the wrong agent is probably worse than not getting an agent at all, but it's hard to know he/she's the wrong person until it's too late.
( 41 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











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