Friday, July 1, 2016

Questions from Readers, Mistakes (Part 4 of 12)

Continuing with Mistakes Beginning Writers Make

8. They Accept Writer’s Block. Writer's block is a temporary or chronic inability to put words on paper. It’s an aggressive reaction—a loud shout from your unconscious—calling your attention to the fact that something isn’t right.

(I rarely refer to my own books, but this time I’d urge you to read Writer to Writer in which I deal with this topic.)

Briefly, what I call writer’s resistance happens when you’re afraid of failure, of success or criticism, or when you’re under stress, don’t know how to write something, or your inner wisdom is saying, “This isn’t for you.”

When you try to write against your own values, deep within, you know it’s not right for you to do. So why wouldn’t there be an inner resistance?

Instead, I remind authors that creative discipline grows out of enjoying what you’re writing. You need to like yourself and be able to enjoy opening your inner being for others to see who you are.

9. Their work is stilted, or they try to sound like “real writers.” Use contractions whenever you can. That’s how we talk/write today. (Did you notice I used that’s?)

Some would-be-writers seem to think they impress by using esoteric words. You might impress others that you have a vast vocabulary, but why would they care to read words they don’t know?

I keep hearing the advice to use strong verbs and powerful metaphors. My advice: If that’s the way you talk and think, okay. But most of us don’t. I like small words because I know that even the most uneducated can understand. It’s not condescending (I’d usually say it’s not dumbing down), but it’s communicating with commonly understood words.

10. They don’t understand verb tenses. Pick your tense and stay with it. We do most writing in the simple past tense. And if you want to mention something that happened before that simple past tense, we use the past perfect.

Example: Before Evan came, I had insisted that all the children leave. That is, I got rid of the kids before the arrival of Evan.

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