Lessons from a writer: Writer traps
Every week, a rising writer is interviewed, and readers get insight into their lives as well as their journeys. But, today, we’re not looking in the mind of one writer. We’re learning a different lesson. I’ve asked writers a single question, and they’ve shared their thorough responses on the matter, which will share a bit of knowledge from multiple perspectives. What great lesson isn’t learned that way? The first question of this guinea pig interview series is: What trap might writers fall into?
I’m going to hand it over to them, but first, who’s our rising writer “panel?”
I’m an Army veteran, butler to my animals, rainbow rider, eater of all the cake, and most importantly, I’m a mother of two great children who make me smile. Since retiring from the Army, I look for ways to spend my days that does not include training to kill other people. To that goal, I like to write, paint, draw, and practice photography.
Crystal M M Burton
I am a stay-at-home mother and wife who spends my free time baking, crafting, and fangirling. I work from home as an author and freelance editor, and I insist my positive outlook has gotten me to where I am today.
I am a mother of two in NYC. I am also the organizer and owner of the Collaborative Writing Challenge. This community brings authors together from all over the world for an eight-month project, which ends as a completed novel. So far, we have finished four novels, and we are about to finish our fifth and begin our sixth.
Matthew T. Fields
I’m from Brooklyn, NY. I currently live in Danville, Ohio with my wife and daughter and a baby on the way. I self-publish. I have three books out already, and I’m working on my biggest project yet.
I am a writer of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I’m working on my first fantasy series called, The Veil Saga. My goal is to have it ready for print by the Fall of 2017. To find out more about me and The Veil Saga, you can check out my website.
I still consider myself a novice writer. I’m still unpublished and write short stories to practice certain types of scenes. I have a novel project on hold until I feel I know enough to do a good job. Publishing would be nice, but it is not my driving force.
I am fortunate to have been born and reside/work in Bermuda (a small island in the Atlantic Ocean about 700+ miles off the East coast of the United States). I’m in my mid-40s, a single mom of a 22-year-old son, have a loving and caring live-in soul-mate boyfriend (he found & pursued me to my luck), and we all reside together in our home with my aging mother who needs care.
I love writing across genres. I’ve recently found a fondness for nonfiction, and the best thing next to an awesome cup of coffee is an even more awesome book! Creators create, readers read, and writers suffer long silences from tight-lipped characters 😛
I am currently working on my first novel, a fantasy adventure called Accrue’s End: Pursuit. I also have a short story titled Sight Unseen that will be published in Collective Ramblings Vol 2. I’m still learning a lot about the writing process but am getting a lot of help from amazing people on Facebook.
What trap might writers fall into?
I believe many writers have talent and imagination and the ability to write a good story, but they fail to understand the craft of writing. This means having the ability to come across a problem and knowing how to fix it. This could be using structure or an outline, or it could be knowing to use beta readers and a professional editor at the end. The worst thing a writer can do is rush the process. I also believe writers have to humble themselves and be able to take criticism and detach from their sentences. You can love a sentence you write, but if it has to be chopped when you revise the story, then you have to be prepared to let it go! You are generally not writing for yourself and have to try and write as best as you can to reach a wider audience. – Laura Callender
One trap Writers fall into is waiting for their work to be “Perfect” before moving forward. – Matthew T. Fields
A big one, and I know it’s a big one for me, is doubt. Especially if it’s your first time writing something like a novel. Doubting if your writing is good, doubting if it’s a story anyone would want to read, doubting the structure of the story itself. You just have to remember doubt is a normal part of the process, and though it’s scary to let others read your work, try and let it happen so you can get constructive feedback. A new set of eyes can be a great thing. – Eric Smolinski
As an avid reader, I’ve read good novels and unfortunately, a lot of badly written ones. I often pick a book “blindly,” solely based on the title, the unknown author’s name, and reading the first page, so I can broaden my reading. I used to read the whole book regardless of how well written because I paid for it, but now, I shop for books in sales and if I can’t get past the first few chapters with keen interest, then I go no further, either throwing it out or I give the book away to another sale. In saying this, I find a writer’s trap is one that when someone is writing just because and without real purpose, it truly makes a horrible book to read. Some writers write a lot of crap and by the time you get near the middle or to the end, there is no real point in the novel at all. Nothing was really accomplished, resolved, nor did I feel that it invoked my thoughts, made me want to try something new, swayed my emotions, or that the story was not well worth the read and I received no satisfaction out of it. The trap of writing just to write, just to be published, to tell people things and blabber but not really show a story or any real progression. To not be good writing but it’s done over and over, and with self-publishing now underway, there are so many bad works out there. It’s a real shame. So the trap would be to write a whole lot of words but not move the story along. Everyone can write something, but to write something that others are willing to spend time reading and get to the end is the real task at hand. – Bambi Pimental
There are so many. The most obvious one is clichés, followed closely by their desire to follow writing rules entirely too strictly or ignore them altogether. But, the trap I feel writers fall into most often is a loss of passion. They get so far into the story and lose the drive that had them writing in the first place. It’s not the same as writer’s block, because we all get past that eventually, but a true lack of motivation to finish a story . . . and sometimes, a very real fear of writing stands in the way of that passion. It’s what holds many of us back (myself included at times). – Crystal M M Burton
There are many things I might consider when looking for a good book, but the first thing is usually the type of subject matter or storyline. My first instinct is learn. I tend to select a story or novel that deals with subject matter, location, or characters similar to the type of stories that I am currently working on or might consider writing in the future. For example, if my own work in progress takes place in a European city, I may select a novel from a pile that also takes place in the same city or at least in the same country. If I have a scene that takes place in a hospital room, I may pick up a title that also includes similar scenes. I’m always looking to learn how others weave in location, characters, foreign languages, or other things.
One of the first things that would turn me off from reading a book would be overly descriptive words or purple prose. I prefer simple language and description where it is needed. I try to write with simple language myself. I don’t need a description for the sake of description and only want enough description to place me in a situation and make me feel the emotion. Too much and something gets lost from the story. I prefer the shortest possible way to the story without too many distractions. – Richard Happerger
The most obvious trap writers fall into these days is spending too much time on social media. Another trap, and this is more a personal belief, is that writers often expect their readers to disbelieve reality and say, “Oh, if it’s a good enough story, it won’t matter if this or that doesn’t make sense.” Don’t fall for this trap . . . look at every aspect possible for your story and make sure that it’s believable . . . even if it’s fantasy. Fantasy writers make the unbelievable seem believable because they took the time to explain it as such. Nothing turns me off more from a book or movie than reading/watching a scene that is full of holes. – Steve Guglich
I think some traps that writers might fall into, in my opinion, are being overly descriptive in writing and not properly setting up voice early on in the story. Sometimes it’s hard to find a happy medium with description. You don’t want to overdo it, which leaves nothing to the imagination, and you don’t want the reader to work too hard filling in the gaps. But do give the reader the benefit of the doubt. Not everything has to be drawn out. Some things are better left for the reader to imagine. – Tyronica Smith
The traps writers might fall into are many and maybe very personal. The ones I personally have to avoid are not how others see me but how I see myself. I have a lot of self-doubt and high expectations for what is real work and what are hobbies. This deep-seated thinking affects my writing.
I’ve always been a real introvert, but I’ve worked hard to become a “trained extrovert.” I’m very self-conscience about my writing and what I share with others, and this really is scary when writing for the public. I write how I speak, which is more down to Earth, and it’s not eloquent at all. I think, will people think I’m stupid? Millions of books are on the shelves. Why would anyone read my words? I’m not making money while writing, so am I wasting my time? I’m not famous, and millions of people are suffering all over the world. What gives me the right to think my story is special? How will I handle the public if they hate it? How will I handle men who will eventually attack me for being an outspoken woman?
How did I handle all of this? One day, I just started writing. I wrote a few words and then a few more. I started a blog, and I openly give anyone permission to criticize me as a person or to correct my writing. I also fully admit that if the criticism becomes personal, I will gladly delete their comment and move on. On my blog, I’m very open. My words might not be for everyone, but everyone is welcome to enjoy what they like and ignore what they don’t.
I had to fully accept my writing may not be for everyone, and that is perfectly okay! I may not be eloquent, but there are millions of people who don’t want highbrow writing; they want people like me.
I had to admit to myself that writing is what makes me happy. Putting words to paper in such an order that it makes people laugh, cry, sigh, or even start revolutions, is such a wonderful gift. I want that gift more than I question myself. I had to admit to myself that even if only one person read my words, then all the hard work would be worth it.
Nothing is as damaging to a writer as their own reflection. Don’t listen to that voice that says you can’t. There is someone who needs to hear your story and is waiting for you to become strong enough to write it. All you need to do is start. – Amanda Blount