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5 Mistakes You Don’t Have To Make As A New Author


“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

You’re going to make mistakes as you write your first book. YOU NEED TO to learn and grow as a writer, but you don’t have to make them all.

There’s a page in the picture book I published that I just cringe at every time I read it. It’s got an unnecessary adverb, and not just any adverb, but an overused, cliche adverb at that.

I remember when I was writing it reading an article about culling your adverbs, but I just sailed right on.

Now I get it. It just doesn’t need to be there and my book would be SO MUCH better without it.

But you know what? I haven’t overused adverbs since. Sometimes we need to make the mistakes to grow.

But other times we just need to be told what not to do.

Here are 5 mistakes you can thank me for making for you, so you don’t have to.

Don’t draft and edit at the same time. Draft the whole book first, edit later.

I remember I tried to write a novel years ago but never got past the first couple of chapters because every time I came to it for a new writing session I would tinker with the chapter I’d just written. I never got past the tinkering. Now I allow myself a tiny bit of tinkering to get the glaring mistakes and typos from the last session but then it’s on to the new writing.

Don’t wait for ‘inspiration’. You’ll waste eons waiting for the muse.

Write. Write when you’re bored, write when you think it’s rubbish, write when you’re tired, write when you don’t know where it’s going, write when you’re not inspired to write. Just keep writing. You can always edit later.

Don’t worry about publishing until you’ve written it. Write it first, then go on the publishing journey.

Definitely don’t approach an agent or a publisher (unless they’re your mum) about your book until it’s drafted, edited, edited again, read by someone else, edited again, and again, one more time, and then maybe it’s ready to send out.

Don’t get disheartened if you show it to someone and they don’t think it’s very good, even if they know what they’re talking about.

When I first started writing picture books I got some feedback from a pretty accomplished picture book author. She wasn’t impressed. It was crushing.

6 months later the same manuscript was runner up in a writing competition. 12 months later it was published. Sometimes people’s opinions are just that, opinions rather than hard facts about how good your writing is.

Your book is going to take longer than you expect.

You’ll want to start sending it out way too early (I did!). If you can bear it, put it away for 6 months. Don’t touch it. Then come back to it with fresh eyes and edit, edit, edit. You’ll be surprised by what you discover.

So there are some mistakes you can easily avoid. Now go, make lots of mistakes and celebrate every time you spot one because it means you’re growing as a writer, honing your craft and getting better and better.

It’s time to write your book.

PS. Love Pinterest? Choose a pin for your writing board…