The Mistakes That Make me Hate my Writing
As writers, we’re all our own biggest critics, right? Sure, there must be some of us out there with bulletproof self-esteem who can read a first draft, nod and go “yep, that’s gold”, but I’ve never met them.
No, instead we look at our first drafts and weep for the writers we wish we were.
I’m one of those writers who hate their first drafts (and second, and third, if I’m honest) because I make silly, avoidable mistakes. Maybe you do too. Mistakes like…
I hate typos. They crop up in my initial drafts far more than I’d like. If I’m writing on my phone (not something I like to do, but will in a pinch) then autocorrect is often the culprit. If on my laptop, it’s a simple slip of the fingers.
It happens, and I shouldn’t really beat myself up.
But what about if those typos get missed on my first read through, or second, or third? It happens. One of my articles even had a glaring typo in the actual title that I didn’t spot until post-publication. The reason is simple; when I’m reading my work, I read the words I think I wrote — not what’s there on the page.
If you have the same problem, the solution is even simpler: get someone else to check it before you do anything else. They don’t have the perfect prose in their head — they will see what you have actually written, like “he” instead of “the”.
The Story was Ruined by the Passive Voice
Ah, the passive voice, scourge of writers everywhere. Read any article or book about writing advice and I guarantee the passive voice will feature — and it should.
Passive voice slows things down, makes action less direct, takes the reader away from what’s going on — and, shamefully, it crops up all the damn time in my first drafts.
Luckily, it’s an easy fix. Take the headline up there. It’s in the passive voice. To make it active, it’s simple, make the subject do the action: the passive voice ruined the story.
This happens less frequently, but I still see it every now and again and slap my forehead in frustration. If I’m writing a propulsive story in the present tense, I will sometimes — reflexively — slip back into the past tense. The correction is simple, in that all I need to do is amend the tense, but depending on the length of the sentence (and how many sentences I was living in the past for!) it can be a labourious job.
One thing I’ve found that can help with this is to read aloud as I go. Not always an option if I’m writing somewhere public, but if I can do it I can catch tense switches early — which makes for an easier fix.
Those are the main mistakes I hate in my writing. What are yours?