Friday, February 10, 2017

Guard Against the Attitudes of an Ineffective Writer

by Edie Melson 

We read a lot about what it takes to become a writer. We talk about craft, practice, networking. 

But one thing we often neglect is girding our minds for the journey to publication. 

Today I’m sharing some of the things we need to guard against in our minds and hearts if we’re truly serious about achieving our dreams.

Attitudes of an Ineffective Writer
1. Waiting too long to get started. I talk to writers every day who have reasons they’re postponing writing. They don’t see the delay as the excuse it is. We all have “reasons” not to write. But the bottom line doesn’t change. Writers write.

2. Refusing to be patient. Yes, it’s bad to put off beginning, but we shouldn’t go into this expecting instant results. There’s a lot to learn to become a writer. There’s no timetable. It takes as long as it takes. As long as we’re learning and growing, we’re doing well.

3. Comparing ourselves to others. There will always be people who appear to have it easier. But none of us knows what’s gone before. I need to focus on my own journey. Comparisons lead to dissatisfaction and unrealistic expectations.

4. Trying to do too much at once. Multitasking is a lie. Yes, we can have several projects going in the same timeframe, but we cannot work on them simultaneously. Part of learning to become a writer involves learning the art of setting priorities.

5. Refusing to change. Instead of growing and adapting, this mindset expects the publishing world to adapt to them.

6. Always expecting to be the exception. There are two ways things happen in the writing world—the normal way and the exception. It’s called an exception because it doesn’t happen often. Common sense needs to remind us that we cannot expect to live our publishing life as the exception.

7. Forgetting the reason we started writing. The reason why can get us through almost any obstacle. When we forget why, the resilience we had slips through our fingers.

8. Focusing on the negative. Just like anywhere else, in publishing disappointments will come. We can choose to live in the negative, complaining and whining, or we can learn from the struggle and move forward.

9. Waiting for perfection. Being patient is good. Expecting to someday be perfect is a pipedream. I write better today than yesterday, and I’ll write even better tomorrow. We do the best we’re capable of and keep moving. Perfection is a sinkhole that leads to nothing but defeat and failure.

10. Ignoring the spiritual component of the journey. God is part of this writing journey. The words He has for us to share have more purpose than to just bring us fame and fortune. Sometimes that purpose seems small and insignificant, but it’s not. When God moves us, miracles happen, even if we never see them.

I believe these are the top ten mind battles we must face to find joy and fulfillment as a writer. What would you add to the list?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!



  1. Oh my gosh!!!! This is a great article, Edie! Sharing all over the place. :)

  2. I'm with Andy...sharing! This article is therapy. By biggest regret is #2 Refusing to Be Patient. A "fantabulous" literary agent was working with my first ms, excited about it, encouraging. She asked for three storyline revisions. Two I immediately wrapped my head around. The third I just couldn't see. BUT I got in a hurry, rushed it, and resubmitted. The reply was two "good jobs" and one "not quite." I let the ms sit for a bit and guess what? Clarity. I fixed the hole, but I had blown my shot with a rock star agent. And yes, I have no pride and contacted her again. :-) She wished me the best--a hard but great lesson to learn.

    1. Karen, thank you for sharing your experience. As painful as it was, it will help others! Blessings, E

  3. A fantastic list, Edie! I will share an additional attitude - one that I had and let get in my way for years. It had to do with thinking and actually believing that there was no need to invest time or money in developing myself in the craft of writing. Why should I? After all, I'd studied and practiced writing since Kindergarten. And then spent 40 years in the business world researching, designing data collection tools, analyzing data, and preparing reports. Even teaching and mentoring others how to do it. Do you know how helpful that was when I sat down in retirement to write some memoirs for my family? Quite a bit, but I was already seeing that this was different. And as the writing bug bit a little deeper and drove me into new territories like poetry, freelance writing, and fiction... well, I realized that seminars, workshops, and writing conferences all provided me with information and a network of people that could not only make the journey easier but possible. I truly believe no one but family and a few friends would have ever read my writings otherwise. My new attitude is that writing seminars, workshops, and conferences are worthwhile investments if you're serious.

    1. Jay, that's a great addition! Thank you, Blessings, E

  4. I'm always trying to do too much at once. All are good reminders, but this one hit home today.

  5. Excellent info, Edie. Number 4 is my Achilles heel. :)

    1. Andrea, it's funny (sad) how easy I came up with all these. I've struggled with most and seen them all at work. Blessings, E

  6. #4, just went through a slashing session. Cutting out what's keeping me from the best things. I know you all tell us this at conferences, but hearing it and living it are two different things.

    1. Jennifer, putting that into practice is tough for all of us! Blessings, E

  7. I so needed to read this, thank you!

  8. Edie, this is a keeper for me. I'm sure I will need to read it many times over this next year. Why? Because I know God is molding me to expect a miracle with my writing this year. I've always been more afraid of success than failure. And the Lord has recently enlightened me to the fact that my failure to pursue productive writing has not been my lack of discipline or my inadequacies but it has been my lack of faith. So as a result, I've decided to trust God for a miracle with my writing this year. Regardless of my age or other infirmities I have brought upon myself, I do believe God's power can be made greater through my weaknesses than my strengths.

    Since I began this journey a couple of weeks ago, the enemy has run rampant with anger. And my faith has been tried and tested in crazy ways. Like my blowing out three tires in three weeks and having to buy new ones. And I wake up every morning with fears and doubts over whether I can do this, which drives me back to focus on God's Word and what He's taught me so far. As a result, I'm thinking the greater miracle will be ME and the writing will spring from that. Huge job for God but I think He can handle it, don't you?

    Edie, I'm so grateful for what you and Vonda have taught me. God truly brought me to your group years ago. BTW, I am now a part of the Word Weavers group here with Andy Lee. God is good!

  9. This came at a perfect time. I struggle with making my writing a priority in my schedule. Thanks for the boost. Sharing