Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Seven Deadly Sins of Writing!

This thought came to me recently while sitting at my laptop. It had been one of those incredibly busy weeks and I hadn't written a thing. It was as if circumstances were conspiring to keep me from working on my current book. And I believe all writers, in some stage in their career, suffer from what I call, The Seven Deadly Sins of Writing.

1. Busyness - Most of us have families and jobs and our writing career is divided between these and the pressure to maintain our social media contacts - Facebook, Twitter, our blogs, Linkedin, Tumblr, Pinterest... etc - as they are essential tools in publicising and marketing our books, as well as establishing valuable contacts with other writers and even publishers.
We get so caught up in these everyday practicalities our writing is the first thing to be neglected, and sometimes even sacrificed to the gods of duty and obligation.
Discipline and organisation is the key. Create a timetable for yourself - one you can realistically adhere to - and make time to write.

2. Fear - of failure! How many writers have a potential best-seller hidden in a box somewhere in the attic, beneath the bed, the bottom drawer of a cabinet or on top of the wardrobe gathering dust, because they fear rejection by a publisher? Or, they never complete the book they've been working on for years, as they don't think it's good enough? I could name hundreds of brilliant writers, who's name's we would never know if they allowed fear to hold them back. Just look at some of the books making the best-seller list, and they happen to be the biggest pieces of crap around - Fifty Shades, anyone? If something like that can sell, then anything can!

3. Procrastination -  The dreaded writers block. We're stuck on a chapter; a character isn't behaving the way we would like. (Talk to your characters and ask them what they want! After all, it's their story.) Then, go for a walk to clear your brain, or grab a coffee at your favourite cafe and relax. It may take a while, but the ideas will come. It's so easy to deliberately allow other things to become a distraction simply to avoid sitting and staring at a blank page.

4. Impatience - You've finally written that book and now you can't wait to publish it. But, has it been thoroughly checked for grammatical and syntactical errors? What about plot holes and structural deficiencies? As writers, we're too close to our work and simply don't, "see the forest for the trees."
They may be expensive, but it pays to have your work checked by a professional editor. See it as an investment in your writing career, and one which will certainly pay off in the long run.
Don't be impatient. Writing is a long term process, and if you want to gain a reader following, it's up to you to provide a quality product.

5. Lack of Confidence - in your story. Sometimes all the varying opinions writers receive in their writers groups can be confusing. Every person has their own opinion, and readers are very subjective. Remember, this is your story. Don't change it because it doesn't suit one or two individuals; it's impossible to please everyone, otherwise you'll be forever chopping and changing until your book no longer speaks with your voice. Adopt what is useful, but never lose your integrity.

6. Arrogance - Now this may seem a contradiction to the one above, but let me explain. Sometimes writers suffer from, what I call, the 'Best Seller Syndrome.' Face it, we've all done it. We think our book will reach the best seller lists overnight; movie producers will be knocking at our door begging for the film rights; we'll be on Oprah!
Yeah, right!
Truth is, your book will more likely be lost in a sea of millions of other would-be hopefuls hoping for the same break. Unless you're one in a million, that just won't happen.  So, take a reality check and hope your book earns enough to pay the next electricity bill, otherwise you'll be writing the next one at the local library, plugged in to their power supply!

7. Chair-bum - Unless you get out of that seat and exercise, you're likely to develop a backside only a sumo wrestler would be proud of! Every hour or so, move that arse! Take a walk, talk to your characters (though I wouldn't recommend doing that aloud and in a public place!), fidget, stretch and get that body moving. Stay healthy and write the books that'll happily keep us up into the wee small hours of the morning.

So, those are my seven deadly sins of writing.
If anyone can think of any others, I'd be glad to hear.



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