Peggy Bechko: The Mistakes We Make While Writing

mistakes

by Peggy Bechko

Mistakes.

We all make ‘em and we’re all kind of weird about making them.

There isn’t a writers (or a person) in the world who doesn’t make mistakes at times. It’s who we are.

But, focusing on writers, what do we do about those mistakes? Some of us seem them as disasters, as the marks of amateurs as something to make you slink off and never think of writing again. The mistake can be minor or major, a silly one, a stupid one, or one caused by simple distraction.

Get over it.

Really.

Learn from your mistakes.

If someone finds it for you and points it out, be gracious, thank them and fix it! Hey, if they’re wrong (and it happens at times when an over eager reader points out mistakes that don’t exist) still be gracious and thank them for their input.

And stop the idiotic thoughts that rumble through your brain when you make a mistake right out there in public. Thoughts like:

Who am I kidding? How can I be a writer when I make a mistake like that?

Who am I to write about anything if I make mistakes like that?

It’s embarrassing, I look like an idiot.

OMG what will this do to my reputation as a writer?

Ummm, really? Throttle back on that negative stream. Mistakes happen. In fact there inevitable, no matter what you’re doing and even more so I think when writing. You’re changing and growing. Heck, even language is changing and growing. And you can get away with all kinds of free-wheeling when writing fiction. Non-fiction is a bit stricter, but what the heck.

So let’s step back from all the self-incrimination and realize the solution is simple. Fix it. Learn from it. Try not to make the same mistake twice…or if you do it twice, let’s not go for three times.

Tell that inner critic (and we all have one) to shut up. You are not stupid, or worthless, or misguided just because you make a mistake. If you were a brain surgeon it could become a bigger issue, but you’re a writer. You’re not perfect. The world isn’t perfect. Yes, of course you have to master the language to be coherent and put together sentences that make sense, but give yourself a lot of leeway. Pros make mistakes and so do you. Pros find out about it, fix it and move on. So should you, now and when you become a for real Pro because you’ll still make mistakes.

Think about other professions. There are interns and apprentices, practically every career path requires a learning curve and then life-long learning. It’s because we writers spend so much time in our heads that we talk ourselves into believing we need to be perfect.

The truth is we need to make mistakes. That’s how we learn and improve. Don’t be afraid of making them because that fear will hold you back. Besides if you don’t make ’em your editor will – amazing the mistakes we can catch in a book already published by a major house.

That inner critic that lurks at the back of your mind, the one who wants to edit your writing even before it hits the blank screen, the one who obsesses over every little detail, that little snot can be what fans the flames of your insecurities, build the fires beneath your introverted writing life. Not only does that little voice criticize almost everything you do, but it wants you to feel like an idiot, a fool before the world.

So I say to you writers out there. Take risks, make mistakes, be creative. Your writing will thrive and you’ll beat back the dark voice of your insecurities for the path you’ve chosen.


Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.