We’ve all been there, done things we regretted later (once we figured out what was “right”), but here are five things all writers should seriously consider throwing by the wayside and moving ina brighter direction.
- Stop using epithets! What’s an epithet? It’s essentially when you use a descriptive adjective instead of a pronoun – “the tall man said” instead of, “he said.” Epithets are generally unnecessary if you have correctly indicated who is speaking/doing what. For me personally, they distract me completely from the text and will almost immediately garner an exit out of the window or shutting the book.
- Repeating yourself. It’s an unfortunate tendency of many writers (myself included) to repeat things. Sometimes it’s due to a need to stretch out the text. Other times, you might feel like you need to reiterate, but odds are, you don’t. Raise your hand if you know what color Harry Potter’s eyes are! Pretty sure anyone who’s read the books could tell you because it’s mentioned multiple times in every single book. Is it an important detail? Yes. Could it have been mentioned just a few times and been left alone? Probably. Use your good judgement here.
- Stopping yourself in the middle. Sometimes we get stuck, and that’s okay. It happens, but leaving projects in the middle because you don’t know where to take it is something you can control. It’s at this point that you have to let go and let the story take over. It’s a first draft – it’s not going to be a shining representative of your skillset. You might get an amazing idea out of all the crap that you can run with later on in the rewrite.
- Doubting yourself. This kind of goes with number 3 but it’s a biggie, and it is definitely NOT the easiest thing to do. Self-doubt plagues everyone, especially writers, and it can be so easy to just give up when you compare yourself to someone else. It’s hard to stop comparing too, but in the long run, it is going to help tremendously.
- Sticking with ‘what you know.’ Writing is a constantly evolving craft and learning grammar rules and plotting devices is an on-going activity that no one will ever understand completely. When I started out writing, I thought I knew what I was doing, but ten years later, I’ve realized that I know absolutely nothing and whatever I think I know could be changed by one comment from an editor. That’s not to say that your editor is always right because no one is ever always right. You have to keep learning and growing in writing no matter how good you are, no matter how long you’ve been doing it.