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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

7 Habits of Highly Defective Authors

1. Impatience. Impatient authors make mistakes. They rush to query. They don't edit well. They probably won't get published, and if they do they might go insane with the wait times.

2. Pride. Prideful authors refuse to take criticism or advice. They don't want input. They don't care about how everyone else does it. The don't follow submission guidelines. And no one wants to work with them.

3. Over-Editing. While editing is to be lauded at every turn, over-editing will kill you. If you stop to rewrite chapter one every day, you'll never get to chapter two. If you get caught up in an editing frenzy and think you'll change everything in Draft 10 you're never going to see the end of that manuscript. By and large, over editing is the product of a lack of planning. Figure out what you want to say, and say it.

4. Writing What You Know. Whoever invented this adage should be taken out back and shot for the good of humanity (with the clue-gun, of course, I wouldn't advocate violence outside fiction). The average writer does not know that much. They have never been a Roman slave, a Regency-era Lady, or a space pilot. And while research is essential, having lived the storyline is only necessary if you are writing and autobiography. Forget Write What You Know. Write what you dream.

5. Plagiarism. I really don't think I should have to explain, but I will. If it isn't your character, if it isn't your idea, if it isn't your words, it isn't yours to publish. Don't send an editor your fanfic. Don't think JKR will okay you writing the 8th Harry Potter book. Don't steal pages of your favorite novel for any reason. Just do your own work, okay?

6. Quitting. The book you want published will never get published if you quit. NEVER. No magic garden gnome is going to hop up and finish your work. No one is going to send the next query for you. Quitters always fail.

7. Waiting for Inspiration. Like quitting waiting for the "Right Time" to write is fatal. There is no Right Time to write. Unless you know the Right Time is Now, you aren't going to get anywhere. You need to sit your rear end somewhere stable, pull out whatever you write on, and WRITE!

Special thanks to Alan Rinzler and his post on good editing that kicked this off.


  1. I have been told #4 so many times I am becoming #1. If I did not have so much #2, I would just #6 right now. Thank God I don't tend to #3 but, I #7 way too much!

  2. I am worried that my last comment may be considered #5 by some. =(

  3. Great idea for a post! "Write what you dream" I love that!

  4. Good post! It's like the seven deadly sins of writing! :p

  5. What a great post! I slowly learned all these things, thanks to great friends and fellow writers like you!

  6. Oh poo...I was so hoping that the garden gnomes would come through. Sigh... :-)

    Glad I stopped by and read this post!! So helpful! I am really guilty of the editing thing...although I do seem to be able to plow ahead. It's hard sometimes to get past the the "this sucks" thing though. lol

  7. This is a great post - it made me laugh and it made me think ... I think I might have to go and measure myself against several of these habits and I won't like the results.

  8. Kay- You'll like it when you get over these bad habits and get your novel where you actually want it to be :o)

    As for myself, I tend to over-edit. Sometimes I don't know if I like writing or rewriting more!

  9. *cracks up at Marty*

    Nice post, Lei.