Article writing tips, techniques, strategies

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Article Writing Errors

By: Richard Lowe

Having trouble writing articles? Here's my list of some common mistakes that writers make.

Not being a writer - This is the number one mistake that writers make. If you are a writer, then you had better be writing. You cannot publish what you don't write. Don't talk about what you are going to write, don't discuss your articles before writing them, and don't spend endless hours trying to find people to purchase your articles. Just write: query letters and articles. Write them fast and furious. That's what a writer does.

Not writing constantly - If you call yourself a writer, then you had better be writing. In fact, you should be writing constantly, every single day if you can. What do you write? Write an article on something, anything, that you feel you can write about.

Giving into writer's block - You can defeat writer's block. You are a writer, so write. Can't write? Just start writing and don't worry about what comes out.

Re-writing too many times - Some writers like to edit and rewrite an article over and over again. Personally, I write a pretty good article the first time and one quick edit usually finishes it up. Some people need a few more edits. But don't over edit. Your job is to communicate words and concepts on paper, not edit them to death.

Not editing enough - No matter how good your first drafts are, be sure and look it over at least once for spelling mistakes and grammar errors.

Plagiarizing - It's perfectly okay to get ideas from other articles, books, movies, and even television shows. It's not okay to steal another writers work, and it's also not acceptable to paraphrase an article. You can quote from other sources (this is called "fair use") but you cannot make other's work your own.Talking about an article before writing it - I know of very few people who can talk about an article concept with another person and then successfully write that article later. Writing is communicating on paper (or on a computer), not talking about what you want to write.

Asking people if your writing is "okay" - If you are taking a class in writing, then this is a fine thing to do. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother trying to get criticism from anyone except a professional editor. Before I learned this lesson, I stopped writing more articles than I can count simply because of others tearing my work apart. Now, I don't ask for or accept criticism on my works, unless it's from a professional editor to whom I am attempting to sell one of my articles. It is acceptable to get criticism from one's agent, as that is one of the tasks that an agent is paid to do.

Worrying about what to write about - Don't worry about what to write: just write. That's what writers do, they write. There is no need to waste time to find a subject or something that will sell or anything else. Just pick something you know well and write about it.

Not using query letters - If you really want to get your articles published, you need to be sending out dozens of query letters every single day. How is this done? Simply pick up your most recent copy of Writer's Market, pick a magazine or other publisher, think of an idea they might be interested in, and write a letter pitching that idea to the magazine (or other) editor. Be sure to follow the guidelines given by the magazine (you can get this from Writer's Market, on the web or by sending a request to the publication). You may only get one bite out of a hundred, but if you don't ask you won't get any at all.

Why use query letters instead of writing articles? Writing an article can take a significant amount of time. It's wise to find an editor who is at least marginally interested before taking the time to write a full article. Query letters must be written fast and often to be effective.

Writing in someone else's style - You are a unique individual with your own talents, faults, goals, objectives, abilities and characteristics. You also have your own unique writing style. Be yourself when you write; if you are someone else (and you write like someone else) you will never make the big times. This does not mean you shouldn't experiment with different writing styles; it means you should make each style your own as you write.

Asking other writers for advice - This is fine if you are taking a class taught by a writer. In most other instances, unless the writer is a good friend, you have to understand that other writers are competitors. Unless they are very ethical, it's very likely they may be trying to discourage you or move you away from their own preferred market.

Keeping poor records - Create a record-keeping system and stick to it. There is little more embarrassing (or time-wasting) than sending out the same article twice (or more) to the same editor who rejected it the first time.

Not treating writing as a business - Keep good records of expenses and income, and treat it all as important and vital. You have to pay taxes and you may need to account for any money. Also, expenses (and even your home office) are often write-offs on taxes.

Not checking facts and doing proper research - Getting a fact wrong now and again won't kill you, but it does effect your credibility. Get major facts wrong too often, and you may find that you cannot sell anything anymore.

Not handling copyright infringement - If someone steals your work without compensation, handle it fast and efficiently. Talk nicely, then not so nicely, then call in the lawyers. You own the copyright, so enforce it.

Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secretsat - Visit our website any time toread over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve yourinternet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.


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