Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Five Traps Writers Fall Into

I have been thinking about an article I wrote some time ago that has been published several times, in different versions. It came to mind because I find that lately I have been doing all kinds of writing-related activities but not writing a new story or essay or poem. I allowed myself to fall into some of the writing traps. I pulled up the article to read this morning and I'm going to share it here today. I apparently neglected to follow my own advice! Maybe it will be food for thought for some of you, too.

Watch Out For These Five Traps
By Nancy Julien Kopp

Writers are urged to write often, write voraciously, to write, write, write. Even so, we know that to win the prize—publication—there are myriad things we must do besides putting words on paper or our computer screen.

Each of the following writer-related items is beneficial, but if we aren’t careful, they become traps. We can become caught in a spider web of good intentions which eat into our writing time. Let’s consider them, one by one.

Reading About Writing:  We buy or borrow dozens of books that give us the keys to good writing. We immerse ourselves in one after another. We might become so busy learning that the application part is forgotten. Read books on the craft of writing but be selective and limit the number.

Websites and Newsletters for Writers:  The editors of both offer articles to read and classes to take. They present markets and contests, writing prompts and exercises. Seldom satisfied with one, most writers subscribe to several, sometimes many more than several. They do have some excellent information but take precious time to read. Pick the ones you like best and unsubscribe from the others.

Critique groups:  A face-to-face critique group offers constructive criticism and praise for our work, as well as an opportunity to network with other writers. We can profit greatly in a group like this. They also take time. Ask yourself if it’s worth the precious hours you might otherwise spend writing.

Research:  This is a necessary part of writing for many as well as being pure joy for some writers. We can get so involved in the process that far more time is spent than is needed. With practice, a writer can determine the appropriate amount of time to give to the research end of a story or article.

Organizations for Writers:  Joining a local, state or national group offers networking possibilities with other writers, leads on markets and publishers, and a way to keep up with the latest trends in your field. All of them require officers and committee chairs and members who will serve on the committees. Keep your membership in a select number of these groups and limit your participation to what you can handle.

All of the above are worthwhile endeavors. The key is to maintain a healthy balance. Review your writing activities occasionally to make sure you aren’t falling into a trap. When you produce fewer and fewer pages, it may be time to step back assess the reasons.

Financial experts advise clients to take the savings out of the paycheck first. Writing is no different—those thousand words a day must take precedence over all the other writing-related aspects of your life. You know what the traps are, and by practicing self-discipline, you can avoid all of them. Your greatest benefit will be more time to write.


  1. I'd add one more big trap - spending too much time on social media - I'm very guilty of that one.

    1. I know all about that! But it's not necessarily writing-related. At least, not all the time. But you're right, we all 'waste' time in one way or another.