5 Things Writers Should Never Say
Writers are supposed to be great with words. But there are a few phrases I sometimes hear from those in the profession that, in total honesty, drive me up the wall. These are the top things writers should never say that I hope you scrape from your vocabulary.
1. I don’t know.
It’s 100 percent fine to admit that there are gaps in your understanding. Humility is beautiful. That’s what opens you to close the gaps in the first place. But that’s not the “I don’t know” I’m talking about. I’m talking about the “I don’t know” where you shrug and stop before you’ve even tried to get some information. Come on now, people. We have Google. If you don’t know something, you can look it up. If you can’t look it up, you can ask someone, such as a mentor or your librarian. Remind yourself that good sources give authority and credibility to your writing, and then go research and find out. If someone won’t answer your questions, or if you discover there really is no data, then report that. Replace “I don’t know” with “I haven’t gotten the answer to that yet” and see how your work changes.
2. I never read…because…
Ever heard the saying that the best defense is a good offense? Well, you can’t refute what you don’t even know. And the more familiar you are with what’s out there, the more you can pinpoint what you personally want to avoid, what works, and what inspires you most. Educate yourself and explore so you can have a real, justified, and experienced opinion.
3. The editor/publisher/agent just has it out for me/doesn’t know good writing!
Editors, publishers, and agents do consider what’s going to make their agency or house money, which means they consider publishing trends. Even so, most editors, publishers, and agents have spent years in the field and learned from seasoned professionals in the industry. They also have a fiduciary interest in helping you, because without you, their jobs go poof. So even though it never hurts to get a second or even third or fourth opinion, trust that they know what they’re talking about and be open to the fact you have the opportunity to learn something.
4. Writing is easy.
Writing might come naturally to you, but it also requires tons of hard work and dedication. Don’t dismiss that, or others are more likely to dismiss what you do as fluff stuff not worth real support. Always tell people what the experience is really like, warts and all. Another good reason not to paint writing as a cakewalk? It disheartens other writers who struggle through producing their content.
5. I want to be like [Some Writer]!
It’s fine to aspire and appreciate what someone else has accomplished as an author. But your path is uniquely your own. Strive for your own voice and way of accomplishing, because the odds are you’ll never have the exact resources or opportunities another writer has had. If there’s someone you look up to, pinpoint the traits they have that you value and find practical ways to develop them in yourself. Always define success on your own terms, not someone else’s.