Guest Editor for the Week: Theme - What Not to Do
Written by
Elisabeth Kinsey
March 2012
Written by
Elisabeth Kinsey
March 2012

Hi Writers - I will be your guest editor of the week.  I am not even sure this is the right place to post, but here goes.         

   Many of my favorite pieces of advice come from lists of "what not to do" and how to avoid "rookie" mistakes at all costs.  One of my favorite books that illustrates this principal is The Forest For the Trees by editor Betsy Lerner.  In it, she glides between descriptions of how the phenomenon haunts many a writer in so many ways, and how to avoid the chasms and other such dips in a writer's road to success that cause them.  I have subscribed to writing magazines since my late teens and have collected a hefty sum  of top ten lists which many highlight "what not to do as a writer."  Lately, I've referred to writing coach, Sage Cohen's, top ten hints of how to get over fear in writing which can be found on the Writer's Digest website:

            In it, Cohen talks about ways to "identify " the "subtlety" of fear.  As we practice the art of writing, typing and stopping, musing and typing, calling a friend, then typing some more, many of us have fears that lurk on each new white page, perhaps unbeknownst to us.  For me, they have been "What I just wrote rocks so much.  Oh sh**, what if the next page is uninspired and I hate it?  What if I write pure dross and can't get back to the sublime?"  I hadn't known about this fear until recently, while writing a piece I actually liked, and then, as my fingers paused and I almost stopped writing for the day, I asked myself, why am I stopping?  Geez, it's fear, isn't it?  What m I afraid of?  Sucki-ness.  Ugly prose that just limps and goes flat and dies.  So it's that fear of death again, eh?  Whatever your fear, or issue around writing, my favorite theme will involve several writers, authors, bloggers, poets and more this week as I hopefully support you on your quest to vanquish crappy or penultimate writing.  Welcome to "What not to do."

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  • Heather Marsten

    Wonderful post. I've succumbed to some of those fears myself. In order to succeed, I have to keep my goal in mind, and realize some of the biggest fears I've had in life have never manifested. The Bible has over 365 verses that tell us not to fear/worry.  Makes sense, it is an energy drainer.

  • Lisette Brodey

    Many years ago, I had a ten-year writing block. I know, *gasp!* The way that I got over it was to really be honest with MYSELF and find out what was blocking me. In my time of self-introspection, I discovered that I had a great fear of writing prose not up to my standards. Now, I translate that into "not PUBLISHING prose not up to my standards." Back then, I had to remind myself that good writing comes from bad writing. Good ideas emerge from bad ones. You can't edit a blank page. You've got to put something down there so that you have a starting point. That's what worked for me. But yes, it is a genuine fear that many good writers have. Great post!

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  • Elisabeth Kinsey

    Thanks for letting me post you, Deborah! 

  • Deborah Batterman

    It's curious, indeed -- those subtle things that get in the way of our doing what we love. Item #4 of Sage Cohen's tips -- 'focus on process instead of results' -- had particular resonance for me. To say, 'I wake up each day and write' is different from saying, 'I'm a writer.' She scores points, too, for quoting Leonard Cohen in addressing the trap of perfectionism. Great jump-start to your week as guest editor, Elisabeth. I'm delighted/honored to included in the line-up and I look forward to what else is in store.

  • Timothy Desmond

    This ''pit falls'' topic is always good.