Common Pitfalls for Writers

She leaned over the table as she spoke with quiet intensity to her friend and fellow writer. "I want to be published, and I want it to happen now!"

The listener chuckled a bit. "Don't we all!" she responded ironically. "But that isn't the way it usually happens."

When a writer discovers his or her gift, it is only natural to want the world to see how great it is. However, the process of writing has many steps. Instant gratification is not one of them.

A writing talent is a powerful one; however, just as a musician needs to practice, so does a wordsmith (writer). We have to learn our craft and hone our skills. It doesn't mean one cannot be published within a short time. That does happen, but it is not the norm. Expecting instant publication can lead to unnecessary disappointment.

Instead of looking at the process as a negative, we can realize all writers need to learn good writing skills, which can alleviate many headaches, heartaches and tears. Following are a few of the problems writers encounter:

  • The Deadly Disease of Egoitis. This usually appears when success comes too quickly. Feeling superior and in awe at our own accomplishments, we tend to become too filled with ourselves. This is an immediate setup for a fall. See Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 27:2, 21; Matthew 23:12.
  • The "I-Did-It-All-Myself" Disorder. This often comes when we forget who gave us the gift. See John 15:4,5.
  • The "I-Want-Fame-and-Fortune" Malady. This ailment comes when we forget to place God at the center of our writing. It can lead to writing about things that do not glorify God. See Ecclesiastes 5:10; 1 Timothy 6:10.
  • The Green-Eyed Monster Muddle. This one can be particularly nasty in that it brings out the worst in us when others succeed and we don't. Often it may be disguised with a hearty laugh and a "Good for you," but we may be secretly seething inside. See James 3:16.
  • The Careless-and-Sloppy Effect Casualty. This one is a sure-fire way to NOT get published. We hurry up and do the piece, but we don't do the homework of reading sample copies and following the editor's specific format. See 2 Timothy 2:15.
  • The "I'm-Convinced-I-Know-It-All" Woe. Learning never ceases as long as we are alive. We need to be constantly educated because we haven't yet arrived. As we learn new things, it gives our writing freshness and helps us stay in touch with our readers. See Proverbs 1:5.
  • The "Depression Following Rejection" Paralysis. If the writer doesn't realize that rejection is a part of the process of writing, it can cause complete shutdown of creativity. Each rejection is an opportunity to learn and to grow in maturity and perseverance. It is common to every writer. See 2 Corinthians 4:7,8.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. It takes hard work and a willingness to be taught and to be humbled. Recently I read of a man who had his novel rejected over seven hundred times. (I would have given up at that point.) He didn't give up and continued to submit it until it was published. Throughout his writing career he wrote over six hundred books.

God probably isn't going to ask that much of us. However, He does want us to learn all we can about the gift He has given to each of us. In being willing to do so, we can avoid many of the common pitfalls for a new writer.

Crystal J. Ortmann