How to Sabotage Your Writing

One of the sessions offered last weekend discussed things to avoid in writing. It’s an excellent primer on how to never get published. Here’s where I come clean.

  1. Give too much back story in the beginning. Okay, I definitely did this in my first draft. Tons of information to help readers understand everything. Except no one cares. I excised most of the first several chapters and finally found the beginning. It’s like an archaeological dig. You have to dust away one word at a time until you find the exciting stuff.
  2. Write long, complicated sentences. Okay, I wanted to do this to show off my English major chops. It’s just too hard to sustain so ultimately I was too lazy to write the wrong way. How’s that for a win/win?
  3. Use weasel words like really, very, think, usually, just, started to and so on. Weeellll. I did find and delete about 156 “justs” from my work. Thank goodness for the find function in Word.
  4. Tell rather than show. Another something I did too much of in the first draft. I’m learning to root out this evil.
  5. Passive writing. Ditto. Grammar check now sings my praises on this one.
  6. Assume you will remember every brilliant idea you have. Oh why, oh why can’t I learn this lesson?? I write down about half of the brilliant ideas I have. Apparently they’re mainly the ones that seem brilliant until two days later. The rest of them continue to elude me for lack of paper and pen or, well, laziness.

Q4U- If you’re a writer, how do you sabotage yourself?

Categories: Reading, Waiting


  1. Telling – When the driver cut me off in traffic I got really mad.
    Showing – When the driver cut me off in traffic, I saw red as blood began to pound in my ears. I had the sudden urge to take aim at his “Give Whirled Peas A Chance” bumper sticker and shove it into his back seat.

    I can tell you how a character feels or I can show you. If I’m going to be a good writer, I’d better show you!

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