Fast Company

5 Critical Mistakes Most New Writers Make - and How You Can Avoid Them

This will be a five part blog! So hang onto your hats. Here is number 1 of the 5 critical mistakes most new writers make: Most writers just start writing—TRAGEDY! As writers, or artists of any kind, we feel that if it doesn’t just come naturally, or divinely, that we must be a failure. So how do we behave? We dive right in—hoping that the spirit moves us to brilliance. Shame on us! Do accountants just hope that equations come to them? Do Doctors just hope that they’ll figure out what to do with you once they’ve opened you up? Of course not!!! We have to prepare like everyone else. There is so much work to be done before we start writing, whether it be a manuscript, a piece of marketing copy, a speech, whatever…there is homework to do!

The problem that typically arises when we don’t prepare is that we either 1) lose faith when we hit a roadblock and give up; 2) have to expend 5 times as much energy to arrive at a halfway decent result; 3) find ourselves less than brilliant, and sometimes even pathetic to the point of depression. This can have dramatic effects on our psyche that then influence our professional and personal lives. The reality is that artists are typically rather fragile. Talk to someone with writer’s block and you’ll see a raincloud over their head. Talk to a dancer with an injury and you’ll see a fog around them. Talk to an actor who can’t find his zone and you’ll recognize that his expression resembles that of a zombie!

The first step is recognizing that we have to take better care of ourselves by doing the homework before diving into the pool of words. For our manuscripts, there is character development to embark on. For our marketing copy, we have to consider our core values, our core essence, our calls to action, the heart of our message. For a speech we have to structure out our presentation and how we’re going to lead our audience from A to B to C (the REVELATION!).

You create a blueprint before you construct a building. We can save ourselves and those around us grief of untold measure by preparing. Do the homework. Set the stage. Then begin writing.

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