We are, among other things, committed to honesty and vulnerability. We have made so many mistakes along our writing journey and are happy to share them with you here. Our hope is that you can learn from them so you don’t have to endure the same bumblings, and perhaps you can laugh a little too.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are five mistakes we have made in the oh-too-recent past while writing our two books.
1. Not deciding on a storyline before we wrote.
We literally didn’t have one single idea lined out together, we simply started writing. (We like to think that one of our strengths as writers and people is our capacity to jump right into something, with both feet and our entire hearts.)
The process went something like this:
One of us would write a chapter (or two) and then we’d email a .doc to the other person. Often, we’d have different versions of Pages or Microsoft Word, so it would take us a few days to find and re-email a version we could both see. No, no, we hadn’t heard of Google Docs when we started this process. Rather, we’d heard of us, but never having really used it, didn’t understand the value. I wish you could see our faces as we confess this.
We know, we know. This ridiculous story doesn’t actually sound possible, but it’s true. In the wisdom of retrospect, I would chalk this up as one of our Biggest Writing Mistakes Ever.
All that backstory aside, while I think, in general, this process can be a healthy way to expand and grow one’s writing.
In our case, it resulted in something like two years of walking circles, lacking vision, and putting a lot of energy into a non-story.
2. Not figuring out our character list before we wrote.
See number one. Not only did we not create an outline or storyline or anything, we also didn’t create a cast list for who would even make an appearance in our book.
Don’t worry. We finally figured it out.
3.Writing one character as Maggie for half the book and Maddie for half the book.
This one is small and silly and hilarious. I have a weird feeling, we’ll find a few more rogue “Maggies” floating about in our book in our next read-through. Insert ten eye rolls here.
We were nearing a final draft and I found a rascally Maggie hanging out in our story. Oops.
4. Going too long without a beta reader.
While our first book was a hot mess for a solid two years, once we figured out where we wanted to go, we waited another six months before we had anyone else read it.
Feedback on our baby books is inevitably painful, but also the healthiest thing we can do/have done for our writing journey. We are so engrossed in our stories and characters-like ten miles deep, people-that it’s sometimes hard for us to see certain sections or plots objectively. If we’d sent the first manuscript out earlier for some feedback, we would have brought us to our current space much sooner.
5. Using some of the same words over and over and over again.
This is more than mildly horrifying for me, but it’s true. I tend to be like this in conversation as well-I’ll overuse certain words and phrases like my life depends on it.
What helped us problem-solve through this wee glitch was reading our book out loud together. We created an entire page-front and back-of words we drove into the ground.
Google docs has a wonderful ‘find and replace’ function which allows us to type in words we’ve overused like ‘that’ or ‘stared’ and it will take us to each of them in turn and allow us to replace them. Thanks, Google docs!
We will continue to laugh at our mistakes, hopefully learn from them, and share them with you too.
Happy Monday, friends-don’t forget to make some mistakes this week because it means you’re trying something new.
L + L