Many thanks to the marvellous Gill Kirk who suggested “The 7 Deadly Sins of Writing” as a blog topic! (If you have an idea for a topic or a writing question, then tweet me or leave a message in the B2W Facebook group.)
No, I’m not talking about sleeping your way to the top … though whatever floats your boat!
Under its old meaning, “lust” referred to the notion of DESIRE – and desire to succeed can cloud writers’ judgement in all kinds of surprising (and potentially career-kicking) ways. Obviously a healthy desire to succeed is good. But then there are the writers who have an unhealthy desire to succeed, such as:
– those who grab every supposed opportunity, no matter how shady
– those who follow every single note & end up in a tangle
– those who rush writing, sure their time will run out
– those who get up in the faces of industry people too much
– those who believe “the next … draft/ contest/ note/ event/ email is THE ONE”
… And so it goes on!
You WILL need desire to succeed … When people reject you, you will need it to fall back on.
But desire to succeed is NEVER a stand-in for a good strategy. Don’t let desire to succeed hoodwink you into thinking it’s enough … You must figure out what your writing goal is; plan accordingly and review at various junctures, otherwise you end up spunking scripts and ideas and emails and weirdness all over the place.
Gluttony refers to the notion of “over-consumption to the point of waste”. Whilst it is ALWAYS a great idea to consume media products in the style you want to write yourself, be honest with yourself about that consumption. Is it real research? Or are you distracting yourself from the real business of establishing your craft and yourself as a writer? Or – and even more important – are you simply imitating what has gone before? If you suspect either of these two things *could* be you, put down your latest Box set or Odeon card and look to your own craft first.
Be generous. The more generous you are, the more good Karma will flow your way and the more likely it is you will make friends with the people who will take your career to the next level. So don’t grab all the writing leads, information or resources and hide them to yourself: share. Give and ye shall receive!
Always know what you’re doing. Never skimp.
And yes, this includes the basics as well. We’re WRITERS. We need our work to reflect our understanding then of all things writing, whether that’s the BIG stuff like structure and character or the small stuff like (whisper) grammar, spelling and punctuation.
Never skimp on the small stuff. Seriously. There’s loads of great resources online now to make sure you can tackle any of those weak areas you make consistent errors on in your writing, such as:
- This great resource from The University of Bristol – a test a day keeps the script reader away!
- BBC Bitesize – Aunty offers some good info and resources here.
- Grammarly – a brilliant online automated proofreader which you can copy and paste or upload text into to check your grammar.
Okay, this is my sin … CAN YOU TELL??!
Extreme wrath *can* actually be good for writers as a motivator (well I would say that, wouldn’t I?), but you need to work out if yours is POSITIVE or NEGATIVE. Positive wrath will have you working like a demon to prove those who rejected you wrong; negative wrath will have you shouting into the wind impotently about how unfair your lot is; hard you’ve got it; or what a state the industry is in – thus undermine your credibility as a writer long term. Time for a step back my friend.
“Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.” – Gore Vidal
Somebody you know gets somewhere with their writing, whether that’s an option, an agent or something else … And maybe you think (albeit begrudgingly), “Okay, s/he *is* talented”; or “What is s/he doing that I’m not??”; or worst of all: “How the hell is S/HE succeeding?? I’m way better!!”
Look, I get it. Sometimes it seems like everybody has it easier than you. Sometimes it feels as if it’s completely insurmountable and you will never get to wherever you want to go.
But guess what: whomever you’re envious of felt exactly the same way you do now! No one has an easy ride. But that person kept on keeping on and worked through it … and made it out the other side.
So there is no point feeling envious. Let it out and then let it go. And keep on keeping on!
You will never know it all … if you’re so proud you think you do? You’re mistaken. A good writer is always learning. It’s not easy to do always, but it is as simple as that.
Do you have different interpretations/ideas for the deadly sins of writing? Then let us know!
Great title from Mr. Kirk! I like that you ended with Pride. I agree with you that this is the biggest sabotage, especially for novice writers. Fun article, Lucy!
Haha thanks Sidney, but it’s MS Kirk 😉
Hi Lucy, the Bristol university link isn’t working for me, could you update or say what the site is called? Thanks
Hi Jonathan, have updated the link, plus here it is direct: http://bit.ly/XgXwKT