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Eight Mistakes in Creative Writing

We haven't been updating about creative writing for some time due to readers' interest in various other topics, and my exploring them further. Here is a revisit to it. We will see why you can be unsuccessful in writing business. Here are eight of the severest mistakes creative writers can do.

1. Not Writing at All

If you are a writer, not writing is like not breathing and still looking to live. Most of the time, the writer's block may be the reason why you are not writing. In that case, use my writer's block tips to fight it. But keep writing always, no matter how crappy what you come up with is.

2. Not Reading at All

Reading a lot gives you inspiration and words to write further. Refraining from it will simply make your writing stale and uninteresting at the least. At the most, you will simply lose your writing skill. Hence, keep reading without fail.

3. Taking Negative Comments Personally

A mistake any budding writer can do. Negative comments always come when you are in the budding stage. Some may be personal, but most are not. Only take the suggestions and improve on them; don't ever take all of them personally and feel that you are not born to write at all.

4. Writing Flamboyantly and Making Yourself Love It

As a writer and more a reader of fiction, I want to stress this point well. Most writers simply cook up a twist and turn of events and think that the readers will find it cool and enjoyable. Before creating any plot, simply think if you will like it yourself as a reader or not. Imagine that some other writer wrote the tale and you're reading it.

Flamboyant action, just as no action at all, is not appealing to people. We want more of reality. So, don't create otherworldly situations and characters and just expect that your readers will like it. Because they won't.

5. Imitating Your Mentors

Do you imitate any writers you read and respect? Stop it now. Building a writing style based on another writer is good, but blindly copying the style is not the way. You should build your own style, and not ever keep imitating your mentors.

6. Feeling That You Are Better or Worse Than Your Mentors

Some writers suspect that they are worse than their mentors are and simply remain disappointed all the time. The fact is that you can be either better or worse than your mentors, but that doesn't affect your career at all. All successful writers are not supreme literary talents. There are different aspects that define talent, such as characterization and realism in case of Stephen King and ability to write pageturners in case of Sidney Sheldon and James Patterson. I wouldn't say Sheldon or Patterson are great literary minds, but I may take a week to finish a small Dickens novel, while some hours to finish a Sheldon book. Don't ever feel, hence, that you are worse than your literary mentor simply because you can't create a great plot or engaging characters; you have an ability yourself and if you write well it will definitely be recognized.

Another attitude problem with new writers is that they may feel that they are better than their mentors. Too rarely is this true. You need to understand that professional writers are what they are because they are really good at it, and you have a long way to go to be even remotely comparable to them. What you feel may simply be a whim, and ninety-nine out of hundred people may tell you that your writing is worse. Your success lies in not letting yourself feel this way and being humble. Your worse writing will definitely improve to a very good writing, and you may still have long way to go to match with your mentor.

7. Not Researching Properly

In creative writing, even the length of a safety pin is important. Without researching your facts, you are sure to end up in trouble. For instance, in the Da Vinci Code, there was argument that a tracking bug cannot be actually embedded to a bar of soap. You can miss such simple facts in research. But make extra effort to research all your points well.

8. Not Coming Up With Your Best First

Your first novel has simply to be a masterpiece, new writers. Otherwise, if it becomes a fiasco, it will be very hard for you to get a publisher for the next novel. Be very sure to come up with the best of plots you have. Don't try to create a plot like an ordinary best seller by your favorite writer. That will get you only into trouble, since the novel in question may be one of the worst by the writer, and its success may simply be attributed to the fan following he has. I would say many of Stephen King novels are worse than many not-even-heard-of works.


Those were the eight mistakes I could think of. Your comments are much awaited.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2009


  1. I was naive - I think all beginners are. Almost as if all that is needed is to write a story / novel, then send it off. My mistake was, rather than research the novel - I should have researched writing and what mistakes I would (was definitely going to) make. The web seems full of hindsight on this issue. Perhaps I should have taken some sort of writer's course beforehand. I would encourage anyone starting off to seek earlier advice than even such as this above - 8 mistakes in ~.

    My 9 prior mistakes advice are as follows:

    1. Brush up on grammar and dialogue punctuation. Saves hours of editing later. Go on line and look. Look at your favourite short story and analyze the page layout.

    2. Look up Show not Tell; Point of View; 1st person, 3rd person, Omniscient etc.

    3. Practise the page turner principle with short stories. First line encourages reader to read first para; first para encourages reader to read first page and so on.

    4. Read up on: active vs passive , use of invisible 'said', excess use of adjectives and adverbs.

    5. If your story splits so hero 1 goes off to do something while the murderer stalks his wife and kids - make sure the clock is running the same for both.

    6. Use big fancy words sparingly - don't use dropped in references to commercial haute couture unless everyone knows it. In other words do not send readers off to dictionaries and Google and make them ashamed of their ignorance.

    7. Don't think the first effort is the one that will do it for you. Very hard to do but put the first effort down to rest. You may scream when you pick it up again! Start on the next and even sketch out ideas for others. If you want to make a living out of it you need more than a one shot wonder. If you do it for fun you will do this anyway.

    8. If it's not ready - don't send it! Take pro advice on your synopsis and first three chapters. If it costs you money so be it. It will save hours and hours.

    9. Never waste more than a few minutes on peer review sites. "Don't ask me what I think of you - you may not get the answer that you wanted to..." There are some well meaning people who know no more than you. They may be as kind as your family in support. ?? There are also some spiteful people about - worst are the opinionated technical writing reviewers who critique your work - take a look at theirs and find they have not applied their own advice to their own writing.

  2. Early Stretch, thanks a lot for that highly valuable comment. Keep reading.

  3. Dear Lenin,

    Great post!

    I like how honest you are with point number 8, Not Coming Up With Your Best First, but I'm not sure that I agree.

    There have been a lot of great writers who have learned by doing. They have been publishing books or plays their whole lives and while they haven't found financial success, with each successive work they grow closer to that masterpiece level.

    My favorite example to turn to is William Shakespeare (whether you believe he is one person or many people :) ). The early plays like "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and "Henry VI" have some good passages, but they pale in comparison to the plays after he wrote the sonnets.

    The sonnets, written during the one year closing of the theaters in the late 1500's, were like this big writing exercise. When he finished, he came out changed and wrote one of his most famous works, "Romeo and Juliet."

    My belief is that if he had waited until he had his best stuff first, he might not have had the experience to make it all happen.

    Thusly, I think that mistake number 8 is not for everybody, but it is still a good point that you really need to bring it at all times while you're writing.

    I look forward to reading more in the future!


  4. Hi Bryan, thanks for your comments. Yes, what you say holds true. Most writers don't really come up with the best first. But it helps if you wait for two years and write two or more novels and publish the best of them. Just as Stephen King did with his first novel. He had written books before Carrie, which were substandard and were published after Carrie became successful.

  5. Great post - I am glad to see that n.1 is "Not Writing At All". It doesn't matter what angle you want to look at it from, writers write. Then they write some more. Then they continue writing.

    I think there should be a number 9 as well - that no matter how much you read advice and help and hints and tips, at the end of the day you have to find it for yourself. Which kind of echoes nos. 4 and 5.

    I keep a daily 1000 plus word offbeat short fiction blog (not blog fiction) and I am by no means published (I have stories in journals, but that's about it), but I can definitely see that writing every day is better than not writing every day.

    Probably mistake 10 - we do it because we love it and because we need to. The fact that it would be great to be published and make money, yes, it's there, but number one - write because you love it and because you want to give people something good to read. That's my perspective anyhow.




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