Seven common mistakes aspiring authors make

1 They write as if their work is being marked.

It’s hard to lose that inner student, the kid who’s shit scared of getting it wrong.

But you’re not that kid anymore. You can write whatever the hell you want. In any shape or form.

People don’t know what to do with this freedom. It makes them nervous.

So they play it safe. They keep trying to please an invisible assessor. And their writing comes out starched.

This is why I have an entire section in Scribbles about the importance of making a mess. Of learning to let go.

Take risks. Play with language. Add some kooky.

Give your teachers the finger.


2 They assume there’s a shortcut

And they spend a truckload of time searching for it.

THERE IS NO SHORTCUT. Get the tattoo if it’ll help.

‘The long way is the shortcut.’

You’ve got to do the VERK. Stop trying to skirt around it.

*BTW: Scroll to the bottom of this post for really important info! #nocreatorleftout

3 They define success as being published.

Success is finishing. That’s the biggest prize.

Success is finishing the fecking book so you’re free to write another one and become a better writer.


4 They give up too soon

When things get tricky they crumble.

They either declare it’s too hard, in which case there’s little hope.

Or they convince themselves they ‘can’t write’.

Just because they’ve hit a rough patch!

Harden up, dolly daydream. Problems are part of the deal. It’s your job to sort them.



5 They expect their first book to be published



6 They expect their second book to published.



7 They don’t put in the thinking time

You’ve gotta do hours and OW-ERS of thinking in order to write a book.

Tapping the keyboard’s only part of the game.

You have to put in the thought. You have to invest the mental energy.

I know, I know.ย It hurts!

Writers do it anyway.

Jen xo

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11 Replies to “Seven common mistakes aspiring authors make”

  1. I love this, Jen. I have completed a bunch of picture book manuscripts, polished a few of them, some are sitting half done as they are only ideas that may come to nothing, written some short stories, written some scenes for a novel, and nearly completed another novel.

    One point that you said resonated and I totally agree with (not that I don’t agree with them all. I do), you have to learn to get rid of that inner critic and go make a mess. Have some fun. Woowee! Once I did that and learned to play with words, characters, scenes, dialogue…well just play and have fun in general, I get a thrill every time I sit down and write now. It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get hard sometimes. That’s when I go off to think and chat to the characters for a while. It is such delightful fun. Thanks again, Jen.

  2. The truth hurts Jen Storer but we can always rely on you to speak it! I think another thing aspiring children’s authors need to consider is taking off their parenting head – something I am learning. You don’t need to protect/parent your character and you don’t need to preach a message to the reader…

    1. OMG! I can’t tell you how much I agree with you, Julianne, re silencing the inner parent. This is a constant struggle for me. Constant! Glad you like the ‘truth’. lol ๐Ÿ˜‰ x

  3. Yes! Yes! Yes! Guilty of all, except giving up. I’m a glutton for punishment, put me in the chokey Miss T. So how far can you through the hammer (or girl in plaits), Jen?

    1. Arrrggggg pressed send without checking, it’s throw, not through!! Now I feel sheepish. Throw me in the chokey for sloppiness.

    2. LOL. I will not share my Queen of Typos crown with anyone, ya hear?
      Glad you’re a glutton for punishment, R. It’s a required quality for us writers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Thanks Jen for writing this insightful post. Itโ€™s all true. Just gotta do the verk and stick at it. An important point you made was about measuring success by finishing. I think that is so true. Itโ€™s only been in recent times the thought to get published felt a little cool. Up until that point I was content to simply write. Now Iโ€™m working towards that and boy, what a journey, but hey, itโ€™s an adventure. I have only submitted two PB manuscripts so far and waiting, but Iโ€™m enjoying my other projects too. But it can mess with your head! Lol. Thanks again. It was a fun read! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  5. Love the permission to think for hours. I was actually just thinking how much time I was spending thinking about my main character the other day, and curiously observing how long it is taking me to get to know her – about two weeks so far. And this is a character I’ve briefly introduced myself to before! It’s easy to read all the ‘how many words did you write today?’ And to get swept up in writing exercises or nanoWrimo mode. But really there is a tremendous amount of mulling required before the pen lid comes off. N’es pas?

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