Writers make mistakes. This is a fact. No one creates a masterpiece on their first try. However, there are some writing blunders that we do, which can stifle the flow of our creativity. Some of them can even make us stop writing for the time being, creating a writer’s block that can last for hours, or even days. And then, there are other types of mistakes that cause our act of writing to work against us. Instead of getting better the more we write, we might find ourselves making the same mistakes over and over again. The article takes a look at 5 common writing mistakes you must address immediately.
1. Relying too much on spell check
Spell check is one of the best inventions for a writer. But, it’s also the worst one. Spell check doesn’t make us better at spelling. It has the opposite effect – relying too much on it can lead to the use of wrong words in a sentence. For example, instead of “loner,” you will get “loaner,” or “attic” when you want to write “addict.” There are too many homophones (pairs of words that sound similar, but have a totally different meaning) that can get mixed up. But there wouldn’t be a red, squiggly line beneath the word – because as far as spell check is concerned, it’s a properly spelled word.
2. Excessive use of the thesaurus
The thesaurus has a similar effect as spell check. Excessive use of the thesaurus, i.e. constantly substituting words that seem simple with words that sound smarter and better can lead to a decrease in your self-confidence as a writer. Soon, you might find yourself unable to write and reproduce a coherent thought because you’ve become uncertain of which word to use. In order to avoid this, read as much as you can, with the intention of noticing similar words used in similar context, in order to build up your own vocabulary. And leave the thesaurus for the editing process: when you want to change a word in order to paint a better picture for the reader.
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3. Complicated sentences
Writing a long sentence might be a challenge for a writer, but it’s a bigger challenge for the reader. Long, complicated sentences are difficult to follow. It’s always better to break them down into shorter ones. Being concise is the key to attracting a reader. However, writing long sentences might stifle your own creative flow, unless it helps your writing process. Everybody has a different writing process after all. But, being concise always helps move the story forward. Being wordy is generally tiresome, and you might find yourself writing less instead of more.
4. Substituting adverbs
There has been a prohibition on the use of adverbs in writing by almost every successful, best-selling author in the world. Using adverbs is extremely discouraged. Adverbs should always be changed with strong, descriptive verbs that will strengthen the story. Strong verbs create a better picture, while adverbs weaken the story altogether. However, sometimes, adverbs can be useful, because the strong verb that would replace them is a word that the average reader might not be familiar with. So, instead of stopping every time you want to change an adverb, just write naturally, and leave the substitution of the adverbs for later.
5. Using slang
Slang is not considered Standard English, and it might weaken your writing if you use it too much. Slang is acceptable if using it is a trait of one of your characters. However, it should be limited to dialogue – even if your protagonist uses it and you’re writing in first person point of view. Additionally, slang changes often, and what is commonly known today might not be when your book gets into the reader’s hands, which is why it is better to avoid using slang in your writing.
Image credit: Nick Webb on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic.
As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.