Life is full of choices. Between the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the words we speak, we make hundreds—if not thousands—of choices every day. But out of all of the choices we make, there’s one important thing you have to decide when it comes to your work.
As a writer, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. After five books, over a thousand blog posts, and over a decade of blogging, I still mess up. And making mistakes is a good thing, because it means I’m still writing.
If you’re not messing up, then you’re not doing your work. You’re not pushing yourself to the utter limits and testing what you’re capable of. You’re just playing it safe.
Furthermore, most mistakes don’t matter as much as we think they do. A typo here or there doesn’t break a career. A blog post that falls flat isn’t the end. Even a book that doesn’t sell is more of a speed bump than a stop sign.
But there are four mistakes I see new writers making over and over again, and these mistakes actually can end a career. What’s worse, they’re completely voluntary. Writers choose to make them, often unknowingly, and then their career suffers.
So here are four don’ts every new writer does — and what to do instead.
Many writers strike a fine balance between ego and self-deprecation. As creatives, we need to be confident in who we are while fighting off the temptation to belittle ourselves after writing a blog post, editing a scene in our book, or facing rejection for the umpteenth time. So, how do we manage ego as writers?
Recently, I finished writing my fifth book. I thought it’d be done in March, so naturally, it was complete six months after that. This is often the way it goes.
Writing a book is hard. I don’t think that statement should surprise anyone who’s acquainted with this craft, this trade that Ernest Hemingway said contained no masters, only apprentices.
But the thing that surprises me about writing, the thing that I never would have learned had I not decided to commit my life’s work to it is this:
The more you do it, the harder it gets.
For many years, I accidentally stunted my growth as a writer. You see, I had a bad writing habit that was unexpectedly hurting my growth. And it’s one that many other writers have, too. What is it? Inconsistent writing.
I used to set aside just one day per week to write for 3–4 hours. During this time, my productivity was poor, and my creativity was woefully lacking. But I didn’t realize this was the case until I made a commitment to write daily and blog consistently.
If you write inconsistently, then your ability to master the art and skill of writing will be inconsistent at best. Like me, you’ll struggle with developing your thoughts, finding inspiration, and completing articles, blog posts, and even books.
So, to improve yourself as a writer, you will need to write daily, publish consistently, and relentlessly persevere.
This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy Traub and I talk in detail about why I teach people to write every day, steps you can take toward developing a daily writing habit, and why you should blog consistently.