July 1st 2019
"What Are Some Common Traps For Aspiring Authors?"
There are a lot of potential traps and pitfalls that an aspiring writer can fall into. In fact, some of these are ones I’ve fallen into myself, and one I’ve been very guilty off lately…
I’ll let you guess in the comments which ones I’ve avoided, which I’ve fallen into, and which I find myself berating myself for lately.
"First Drafts Have To Be Polished"
This is something I’ve heard more than once from aspiring writers, as well as those reasonably new to having been published.
And it’s blatantly untrue! Your first draft will most likely be full of plot holes, grammar errors, spelling problems, and even characters who don’t fit the story.
I like to think of the first draft as nothing more than exploratory writing. It’s you and your story coming together for the first time, and finding out who/what the other is all about. More than anything, it’s a chance for you to just sit and write, learn who your characters are, what the REAL story is going to be, and maybe even find your story’s theme.
Once you’ve explored the setting, the characters, and the story, you can use successive drafts to hone the story, and build on the points that support your theme.
In terms of woodwork, your first draft is the rough plank. Your later drafts are the result of finer and finer sanding tools. And your final manuscript is the smoothed and varnished end product.
"Writing Is A Solo Endeavor"
This is another thing I’ve head a lot, but this time it’s one of those that I’m personally on the fence about.
Personally, I love being part of several writer communities, because I’ve made some great friends in the process. Sure we sometimes talk about writing, and bounce ideas or stories off each other. But, just as often we’ll shoot the breeze and pass around book recommendations.
To make your story the best you possibly can, you also need other people. Editors, Cover Designers, Format Designers , Beta Readers, Promoters, Reviewers, and more all play a part.
You’re always going to need at least one other person to read your work, who can help find faults you’re too close to the story to uncover yourself. And promoters and reviewers can help get your book in front of potential readers, because books don’t sell themselves.
Sure, you can learn to edit your work, create the book format, and maybe even create your own covers, but that’s a lot of skills to learn when you could be writing.
In short, you can’t do it all on your own! And nor should you.
"Good Stories Sell Themselves"
I would love this to be true, but it’s also the reason that writers and publishers spend so much time and money on marketing.
You can write the best story ever, but unless readers are able to learn of it’s existence, they’ll never buy it, or read it. So you have to either promote it yourself, or find someone to market it for you. You did read my last point, about this not being a solo endeavor, right?
Part of marketing stories is identifying what you hope the reader will get from it. That information will often help you figure out your marketing strategies. And one of those strategies should be identifying your ideal reader, because it will tell you where they’re likely to hang out, how best to reach them, and what they look for in a book.
Not Writing Every Day
One of the easiest ways to finish writing a story is to… well, write the story.
That might sound a little crazy, but it’s also very true. Unless you take time to write every day, even as little as 500 words, you’ll never actually complete the work.
Personally, I found doing National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo) a big kick in the rear when it came to getting my story shaped. The event runs every November, with every participating writer aiming to write 50,000 words in the space of 30 days. That breaks down to 1,667 words every day, which is very achievable with discipline.
And that’s what sitting down to write every day comes down to – having/finding the discipline to commit yourself to the task. It also helps you to improve as a writer, because it exercises your creative muscles, and helps you open the door to inspiration.
It’s like practicing a martial art helps you progress through the levels, exercise your body, and build muscle memory and reflexes that will serve you later in the training.
Too Much Research/Too Many Courses
This one might seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked, and with the best of intentions.
A quick search for information can easily turn into a maze of links, cross-references, and additional searches. Just a quick peek into Wikipedia will show you just how many links can be encountered on a single page.
And Wikipedia isn’t alone in distracting the unwary.
A lot of aspiring authors find themselves unsure of how to start, what the next step in their writing career should be, or what skills they are going to need. In fact, any writer who wants to further their writing can fall into the same trap as they try to learn skills they don’t already have, or think need improving.
Not only are there a lot of courses out there, but they can be expensive, lengthy, and results might vary wildly. You can also find yourself spending more time and money on courses that you can reasonably recover.
Don’t get me wrong… Research is important, but courses and research can also end up distracting you from the one thing you should be doing – Writing. After all, if you’re not writing, you’ll never have a story to promote and sell.
Check Out The Rest Of The Entries
Several authors take part in these weekly blog challenges from the “Open Book” group. So, if you want to see what they consider to be common traps for aspiring authors, click the link below.
Consider it research I’m willing to approve. Just this once!
About The Open Book Blog Hops
“Open Book” is a group of writers who get together each week to answer some of the questions that people pose about our work.
Each week they ask the writers to write a blog post on the same topic, and then share their post with each other’s readers.
It’s a great way to get some insights into how different writers attack the same challenges in different ways.