I'm working up a talk that I'm going to be giving at the annual conference of the Idaho Writers League later this week.
The catch is that the topic I submitted isn't the same as the topic that showed up on the schedule that was sent out. So I'm kind of working up two different talks. I really like my original topic - and I've got an 11-page outline for it - but I feel like I should be prepared to do the other one, as well.
So tonight, after finishing the outline for Talk #1 (The Seven Deadly Sins of Self-Publishing - as I mentioned on Sunday), I mapped out a quick outline for Talk #2 (Worst Mistakes in Writing).
I created a list of 20 things, which I have found over the years are some of the biggest flubs people have made. Not specific instances, but broad strokes. Things like putting too much trust in Spellcheck, or assuming that every reader will understand your jargon.
When I got to number 20, I realized that there is one thing that is the worst thing any writer can do: Not write.
If you have a story in you, you have to let it out. If you've got a great new strategy for business that could revolutionize the way marketing is done, you need to tell someone. If you feel the need to throw your thoughts against a blog wall every couple of days in the hopes that someone might read it, you've got to wing it up there and hope it sticks.
Not writing when you've got something to say is like holding your breath until you pass out. It's one of those things that benefits no one - and can only hurt you.
Which is worse: being received with total ambivalence, or suffocating yourself with fear? (That's a trick question: they're both pretty horrible.) Sure, you could be met with opposition, naysayers, or angry mobs with pitchforks, but you could also be met with praise, encouragement, and offers of speaking engagements.
So forget the other 19 worst writing mistakes (which, fortuitously, I haven't told you, so that should be easy to do), and focus on fixing number 20. Get out there and write!
(I'll even make it easy on you: There's a comment section at the bottom of this post. Start by putting something in there - a quick "I read this!" or a haiku or the first line of a really great story, even. It'll make us both feel better!)