Every writer has bad habits. I’m not talking about smoking here, either. Somehow, along the way, you learned to do these, and you never stopped to realize how much harm you were doing to yourself, and to your craft. Read this list, check if you’re doing any of these, and fix them stat.
Copying Other Writers
It’s inevitable that a beginner would copy another writer, but no good writer would do this consciously. It’s great that you enjoy Palahniuk, and yeah, his writing is pretty stylistically defined, but if you’re not writing in the best way that suits you, you’re not going to produce great writing.
Solution: develop your own style, and don’t stray from it. When you stop to consider how another writer would go about writing on thing or another, stop yourself. You might be about to copy.
Letting Your Ego Get the Best of You
You might be the voice of your generation, but don’t let it get to your head. For one thing, it’s most likely that you aren’t, not to mention that, to have any validity, a title like that would have to be given retroactively. You need to stop thinking about laurels, and start thinking about what you’re going to write next.
Solution: get out of your head. Instead of thinking how great you are, think of how accomplished the act of writing makes you feel. If you don’t feel like you’re making great work without recognition (potential or otherwise), maybe writing isn’t the job for you.
Being Too Self-Critical
This is the other side of the coin mentioned above. You’re not a bad writer because you’ve been editing that piece for five days straight and are no longer excited about it. You’re also not a bad writer because you can’t make progress or have to ditch an idea. You’re not a bad writer because someone didn’t like your idea as much as you wanted them to. You think you’re a bad writer because you’re in your head.
Solution: see above. You need to stop thinking about the perception of your writing by others. There’s no way to tell from here whether you deserve all that harsh criticism, but what’s for sure is that you’re not doing yourself any favors. Unless your motivation is unkillable, being too self-critical will make you stop writing just to escape your own scrutiny.
Comparing Yourself to Others
Yes, that fifteen year-old wrote a novel, and it’s a bestseller, and Michiko Kakutani is all over it, and they got a movie deal, and they’re developing the script, and you’re still in your pajamas at 3 pm. It’s easy to feel like a failure when other writers (especially younger writers) are getting all the glory. The problem is that you feel inadequate when looking at the success of others. Don’t be.
Solution: realize that the fact that another writer is successful doesn’t mean that you’re a failure, even if the writer in question is younger than you. You already know that there’s no one path to success and that you shouldn’t model your life after others’, so why feel guilty that you’re behind according to how someone else is living?
Giving Up Too Easily
Look, it’s not difficult to get discouraged as a writer. Any time you notice an obvious inconsistency in your story too late or if you don’t make a deadline that should have been a piece of cake, it’s very, very easy to be down. The problem is when you allow this temporary state of disappointment to carry over into your work. “If I made an error that stupid, why should I write at all?” If you recognize yourself in that description, you’ve got a problem.
Solution: get methodical. Your problem is that you let your circumstances get the best of you. The best thing you can do when you get discouraged is think of that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve finished writing something.
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