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Friday, August 17, 2012

WHY WRITERS SHOULD WELCOME MISTAKES

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I have no stories of my own to share this week, so I'll be sharing writing tips from Daphne Gray-Grant. Here's what she has to say about the positives of making mistakes as a writer:

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes… Here are the reasons why:

1) We become less fearful. When we've fallen a number of times, we learn there's usually no huge amount of pain involved. It's more of a nuisance than anything else. So we write a first draft of something that doesn't work or is even flat-out wrong. What's the big deal? We can always rewrite it! But we won't write any better until we learn to take some risks and try writing it differently.

2) We learn more. Most of us welcome the idea of winning awards or being buried in praise by our clients, bosses and peers, but I find I always learn more from mistakes than anything I've done well. Once, in my daily newspaper days, I remember writing "they're" when I meant "their." I knew the difference – I'd just been working too quickly. Unfortunately, no editor caught the error and it was published. In a story about a famous writer. Talk about embarrassing! My mistake, however, taught me to be infinitely more careful with homophones. 

3) It teaches us to forgive. Making mistakes is part of the human condition. If we can forgive ourselves (and forgive others), our lives become much more pleasant. And, by the way, who wants to be perfect? Perfection leaves no room for improvement.

4) Mistakes mean we're progressing. As we make mistakes and continue to learn, our writing slowly improves. Often, we don't see the change – in the same way we don't see changes in our children or our parents, unless we've been away from them for a time. The bad news is we're all too close to our own writing to truly be able to judge it. And the good news? If we're making mistakes, we can be confident that we're also making progress.

5) We'll create a positive, self-perpetuating loop. If we refuse to be stopped by the fear of making mistakes, here's how things will work out: We write. We make mistakes. We learn from them. We write differently. We make new mistakes. We learn from them. We write differently. We make new mistakes. We learn from them. We write differently... (Note: You do have to be willing to LEARN for this to work!)
           
In fact, there are very few downsides to making mistakes while writing. The real mistake is to pretend we're not going to make any. Or, far worse, not to write at all.


Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and editing coach and the author of the popular book, 81/2 Steps to Writing Faster, Better. She offers a brief and free weekly newsletter on her website. Subscribe by going to the Publication Coach.


5 comments:

  1. really like this. and its so true. when i first started writing i was afraid of making mistakes n i hated critisim. But right now i love it. Its good to learn and the more i learn from my mistakes the more i becoming daring in my writing.
    www.secretlilies.blogspot.com

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    1. True. As we grow, we get better. I'm not as nervous about sharing my writing as I was before, for instance.

      Thanks for reading. Since you enjoyed it, maybe subscribe to Daphne's free newsletter.

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  2. #2 resonates with me.
    I can apply these lessons to other aspects of life even, not just writing!

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    1. You're right. The lessons apply beautifully outside of writing. I really like number 1; becoming less fearful.

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