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Five Actions that Can Derail Your Writing

When I first became serious about my writing, I took to the internet to find out what to do besides, well, write seriously. One of the first pieces of advice I stumbled upon was to "get serious about social media." For better or worse, I tried. Maybe I'm not the world's best social poster, and maybe the socials didn't exactly teach me how to become a better writer, but I gained something I couldn't have guessed; an entire community of writer friends and support.

I don't want to speak for anyone but myself, but I believe there have been obstacles we've all overstepped along the way, each of us on this social-writing path. Therefore, perhaps this is a post for writers new to the social world of writing. Here are five actions that I've encountered, and hopefully sidestepped, jumped over, and/or avoided altogether along the path of... serious writing in the social world.

If you're crumbling pages, are you even a real writer? Image:

1. Calling yourself an “aspiring writer”

Maybe you’re a novice writer, a mid-career writer, or a seasoned writer, but if you’re actually writing, then you’re not aspiring to anything… you’re writing. If you’re writing, own it, and own it enough to commit to being a better writer.

2. Believing you’re not a “real” writer because you haven’t yet published a book

If this is where you’re stuck, I’d argue that a book, and maybe even specifically, a novel, is a pretty narrow-minded view of what writers do. Are you writing? Are you sharing your work in some format and thereby allowing others to read it? Does writing make you feel real? Have you gotten your membership card from the Real Writers Association? Okay, that last one is made up, but I think I’ve made my point.

3. Comparing yourself to other writers

Oh, no, no, no. You are yourself. The other writers are already themselves, so you can’t also be them. What’s the phrase? Comparison is the thief of joy? Going this route will only bring you into a writerly despair pit because it will dampen your ability to wave your creative flag. Wave that flag; wave it far and wide.

4. Assuming you already know everything about writing

This is how writers die, figuratively, not literally. If you’re unwilling to learn how to advance your craft, growth becomes nearly impossible. Take into consideration something editor Fred recently experienced. Fred is a member of a social media-based writing group, and posted what he considered to be a helpful link about how writer’s block is simply just a mindset. The article gave great advice on reframing a blocked mindset. Upon posting the link, Fred was bombarded by group members declaring how they wanted no such discussion in the group! Posting such nonsense about writer’s block would absolutely put a dark curse on the group and they’d all be cursed to the block! Fred ultimately decided to take the post down. What started as a means for friendly writer discourse ended in harsh, stunted outcries. We would politely guess that those respondents are not on the path to enlightenment.

5. Following trends for the sake of hoping to become published

The problem with trends is they end so another one can begin. Don’t be the dog chasing its tail. However, if glitter unicorns who preach country-fair winning apple pie recipes become trendy and that ALSO happens to be your wheelhouse, then consider it a bonus.

There are clearly more than five ways to derail your writing, in and out of the social world, and off the top of my head, I can add "not writing," to the list. But, those five will do to start. If I were to reverse the list, it looks more like this: keep your writing on track by calling yourself a writer, believing you're a real writer no matter what you've published, embracing your originality, understanding the lifelong learning process that comes with creative growth, and recognizing that trends are temporary but you are permanent.

What would you add to this list?

Have you fallen victim to any of these actions? It's okay. We love you still. Hit that heart and love yourself. Tell yourself how you'll do better next time in the comments below. Or, throw some coffee karma out into the world:

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