The path towards a successful writing career is fraught with many challenges and hidden dangers. As a writer trotting along this path, you will make mistakes along the way.
Some mistakes, however, can have devastating effect on your writing and even kill your writing career.
Here are six common mistakes that nip writing careers in the bud and doom writing careers you should avoid.
1. Thinking you’re not good enough.
Every writer experiences a dip in confidence at some point in their career. This negative feeling can cause many problems, such as procrastination and abandoning projects for fear that people will not like what you write. Thinking you are not good enough is just bad and can doom writing careers.
Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” And he was right. How you deal with your confidence issues determines how well you fair in your writing career. View challenges as learning opportunities and leverage the opportunity to develop your writing career.
Don't let challenges put you down. Shed off depressing thoughts that you are not good enough and instead work to make your dreams a reality. Keep in mind the wise words of Anna Freud: "I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.”
2. Thinking you’re too good.
The flip side of thinking that you are not good enough is thinking you are too good. Overconfidence damages your ability to make smart career decisions. It clouds your judgment of what is right and wrong. Left unchecked, overconfidence can not only slowly doom your writing career, but also cause stress and strain in your business and social relationships.
Of course, every writer has his/her own strengths in which they grow confident with practice and passing time. But, we all also have weak points we can improve on. Your weak point is another person’s strong point. Despite your achievements and status in life, you can never be too good. There is always room to learn and benefit from others' knowledge.
Consult a specialist such as an attorney or accountant if you find you need some expert financial advice. Reach out for help on project loads that you cannot practically deliver on your own to ensure you meet deadlines and always deliver your best work. Accept that you will need occasional help and counsel from others and don't be afraid to ask for it.
3. Entertaining ignorance.
It is true that ignorance has no defense. There is no need to belabor the point. Just don’t let ignorance kill your writing career. Study your content niche and do thorough research to learn everything you need to know about your field of specialty. If you are a sales copywriter, for example, study your market and learn what other writers in your niche are doing right.
If you are a blogger, research your market and find out who your competitors are and what the big players in your niche are on to. If you are a freelance writer, research the subject of your assignment exhaustively to deliver real value each time. Don’t think that because you know your topic well you don’t need to do research. Research if only to verify and add to your facts.
If you are querying an editor, find out the type of content and writing style the editor is looking for, as well as the target audience before you pitch your idea. This can save you a lot of embarrassment when the editor gets back to you with simple follow up questions. Also, interact with different authorities in your industry to keep tabs on current news and information.
4. Not giving it your best effort.
It is easy to get sluggish and quickly produce work that passes as okay, particularly if you’ve been working on one project for a long time, or you write for a basic hourly pay. However, strive to go the extra mile and deliver work that is more than just the bare minimum.
Delivering real value and high quality work impresses your readers and quickly establishes you as an expert writer. You earn readers' trust and confidence and they appreciate your work more. Ultimately, your audience becomes eager to grow with you and buy your products and services.
5. Indifference to editors.
Editors play an important role in your writing career. They help you polish your writing and provide constructive criticism of your work. It will hurt more than help your writing if you ignore or disrespect them. However, if you listen to your editor’s feedback with an open mind and a willingness to learn, it can have a dramatic positive impact on your writing and career.
Avoid emailing editors more than you have to, but never be scared to ask them questions or seek clarifications. It sounds like a catch 22, but most editors actually appreciate honest communication. Keep your communication and interaction with them short, polite, and professional. Remember your relationship with your editors is professional and you should always act professionally.
If an editor says something that you don’t agree with or that offends you, remain calm. Breath in and take your anger out on a punching bag, if you must hit something to release pent up anger. This will ensure you avoid doing or saying something stupid or careless that hurts your writing career and you regret later. After all, how much blood can you really splatter before it comes back to haunt you?
6. Making the same mistake repeatedly.
Everybody makes mistakes and there is no shame in that. However, as a writer you cannot afford to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. If you make a mistake, stop and analyze the mistake so you don’t repeat it. Look into what went wrong and use what you learn as a guide to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
If you fail to learn from your mistakes, you will likely make the same mistake again and again, and doom your writing career. The cumulative, negative effects of repeat mistakes are dire.
Read Also: 15 Things Mentally Strong Writers Don't Care For.