There’s no doubt that some people have a simple knack for writing. They can come up with captivating and engaging copy without breaking a sweat. Good writing can also be learned, though; it doesn’t have to be a skill you’re born with. If you’re on the path to becoming a better writer, make sure you’re avoiding these 10 bad habits.
1. Not Starting a Routine
Particularly for writers who work from home, it can be easy to fall out of a routine. Maybe you simply like the freedom of getting to work whenever you please, or perhaps you’re waiting for that magical inspiration to hit you. Either way, failing to stick to a routine is doing yourself a disservice.
Making a simple routine for writing can help signal to your brain that it’s time to get to work, making you more productive and focused. You can set aside a specific time of day to write, or you can come up with a few steps to do beforehand, such as making a cup of coffee and finding your favorite playlist. Becoming a better writer doesn’t have to be boring!
2. Failing to Outline
Many writers fall into the trap of reading their content brief and getting started right away. The more you can write, the more money you can make, after all. But if you don’t create some sort of outline, you could wind up wasting your time.
Creating an outline can keep you on task and help you make sure you’re fully covering the topic at hand, identifying the gaps in your research early on. Your outline doesn’t have to be extensive, particularly if you’re experienced in the subject matter. But it will always be worth it in the long run.
3. Not Reading Daily
In Stephen King’s On Writing, he gives a critical piece of advice, perfect if you’re working toward becoming a better writer: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
Make a habit out of reading. After all, how can you know what good writing sounds like if you’re not exposed to it? Reading daily can also help to expand your vocabulary, worldview, and expertise on the given field. Plus, it gives you some time away from a computer screen, and it’s just fun.
4. Not Reading Widely
As you’re making your daily reading habit, select your readings carefully. Try not to fall into the trap of reading the same type of literature every single day. Reading the news or an industry magazine each day can be beneficial, but it can also get old fast.
Try to vary your readings as much as possible. Read both fiction and non-fiction and choose from a wide range of sources. You can read for pleasure and still get tons of benefits in terms of your writing! Choose readings that you like, and you’ll be much more engaged.
5. Editing as You Write
It can be so tempting to edit while you’re writing. You come up with a sentence that doesn’t sound quite right, or you realize your last paragraph got a bit off-topic, so you edit it before you move on. While this strategy might seem effective and efficient, it can actually slow you down. You could spend half an hour or more editing without getting any further in your project.
It’s best to crank out a full first draft before you go back in and edit. You’ll feel better knowing that the hardest part is out of the way, and you’ll have a better idea of the “big picture” you’re trying to get across.
6. Not Editing at All
On the other hand, you might have the urge to submit the first draft you create without going in for any edits. But no matter how good of a wordsmith you are, the key to becoming a better writer is admitting that edits are necessary. It can be hard to catch errors while you’re in the midst of writing, which is why your work always deserves a second look.
Always give your work a once-over before sending it to a client. If you’re reviewing your own body of work, such as your own blog, you have the chance to improve on your past pieces, perhaps even going further in SEO optimizing or adding backlinks as necessary.
7. Using Vague Language
Whether you’re trying to reach a word count or simply make your writing sound unique, you might be tempted to use vague or flowery language. But this strategy doesn’t add much in terms of value. In truth, too much description can take away from the point you’re trying to make.
Using plain language is a better approach, as it is simple and clear for readers to understand. This strategy also allows you to create a concise and effective first draft. Once you’ve completed your draft, you can go back and see if descriptors will help solidify your message.
8. Not Reacting Well to Negative Feedback
Getting negative feedback on a piece you’ve worked really hard on can be discouraging. Writing is a uniquely personal craft, so getting a rejection or critique can feel like a reflection of yourself, much less your writing. But negative feedback is an inevitability, and you must handle it with grace.
Negative feedback doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It simply means that the client had different expectations. Take critiques as opportunities to improve as your writing career advances. Plus, gaining a reputation for taking feedback well can help improve your client relationships and, of course, put you well on your way to becoming a better writer.
9. Not Taking Writing Seriously
You might not strive to be a career writer, and that’s okay. But it’s still important to give your writing the time and attention it deserves. You won’t be able to attract more readers or clients without taking your writing endeavors seriously.
Take care to keep all of your projects organized and well-cataloged. Put forth a professional attitude when you’re communicating with clients or other writers. And don’t be afraid to promote yourself and get the word out there about your work!
10. Not Celebrating Your Wins
A career in writing often doesn’t come with the same recognition as other fields. You’re not likely to get a book deal right away or receive awards that other industries might have. That’s why it’s important to set your own goals and recognize your own achievement as you’re progressing and becoming a better writer.
In a field that is inherently self-led, it’s critical to celebrate your own accomplishments. Taking the time to recognize when you’ve done well will keep pushing you toward your next goal.
Becoming a better writer doesn’t happen overnight, but these tips can help you improve every day. WriterArmy is always looking for knowledgeable and passionate writers to join our team. Get in touch today to learn more about a career with WriterArmy!