8 Common Writing Mistakes That New Writers Make

You’ve got the ideas, you’ve got the inspiration, and now it’s time to put your ideas on paper and share them with the world. But something goes wrong. The more you write, the more mistakes you see in your work and the less inspired you feel about continuing to write what you consider to be subpar material. You begin to wonder if it’s time to just quit writing all together. Not so fast!

Writing is hard. It takes a lot of time and energy to write a good book or article, so you want to get it right the first time. Here are some common writing mistakes that can cause you grief.

1. Wrong word choice

Word choice is vital to writing effectively. Poor word choice often leads to awkward sentences, which in turn have a negative impact on overall readability. When you’re learning how to write well, it’s important to learn how to avoid common mistakes like choosing words that don’t match their context. By understanding what makes one word better than another (or by taking into account linguistic nuance), writers can make smarter choices about every word they choose to use.

However, new writers are prone to making mistakes with word choice because they usually lack experience with formal writing and aren't confident in their vocabulary; it might take them time and practice to get good at choosing words wisely.

2. Too long sentences

How would you enjoy reading a sentence that just goes on and on until you no longer have any breath left in order to read it well that is what it is like for your reader when you do not use punctuation and there are too many words within it, feeling light headed yet?

Now I know what you are thinking and here is some advice to help. By breaking your long sentences into shorter ones you can use punctuation effectively and let a reader breathe. This will make them feel more comfortable as if they are in their own home or favorite place to relax. Next, by having shorter sentences your reader will have less of a challenge when trying to understand what you are saying.

3. Incorrect grammar

Sometimes it feels as if grammar is being taught less and less in schools these days, so we’re often left to our own devices when learning how to properly use language. In your quest to become a great writer, it can be incredibly frustrating to come across mistakes that you feel should have been caught by an editor—or that you should have caught yourself. The great news is that many grammar mistakes are fairly easy to avoid. Check out our list of common writing mistakes that new writers make, so you can eliminate them from your writing today!

4. Not using an active voice

This is a mistake new writers tend to make all too often. Passive voice makes your writing weak and unclear, and it puts extra emphasis on parts of your sentences that aren't important (verbs). Watch out for words like was and were in your writing—new writers are inclined to use them instead of strong verbs like to be. You should always be able to replace passive voice with active voice and still have a complete sentence. Here's an example of what you shouldn't do: The book was written by Susan. This sentence uses passive voice—inactive, indirect language is being used. In place of was, let's use active voice—Susan wrote a book—so we can clearly see who did what.

5. Confusing its and it's

A lot of new writers confuse its and it's. It's is a contraction for it is. If you use it, replace it with it is. For example, if you write, It's going to rain today, try rephrasing it to read, It is going to rain today. Then you can look at whether or not your sentence sounds better by using its/it's correctly. Here are some examples: It's going to rain today. The dog ate its food (the dog ate its food). We like our coffee hot with plenty of cream and sugar; in fact, we insist on our morning cup of coffee being just how we like it -- creamy and sweet.

6. Comma splices

A comma splice occurs when a writer uses just one comma to join two complete sentences together. Many writers, particularly those new to writing or who are being paid by word count, unconsciously introduce these errors into their work. The result is an ungrammatical sentence. Here's an example: I went to a concert last night, I enjoyed it. This can be fixed by introducing a second comma or changing it entirely so that no commas are needed: I went to a concert last night; I enjoyed it.

7. Overuse of adverbs

Writing can be a difficult craft, especially when you're just starting out. The rules are often unclear (or nonexistent), and there's simply so much to learn. But for many people, the hardest part of writing is that it doesn't come naturally to them. It's not that they're not intelligent or creative; they just don't know how to express themselves on paper in the same way they do through speech. Here are eight common mistakes new writers make and how to avoid them. Not Using Adverbs Effectively One of the most common criticisms of new writers is that they overuse adverbs. An adverb is a word that describes or modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb. To see if you're overusing adverbs, try reading one of your pieces aloud and listening for words with -ly at the end: "quickly", "happily", "unfortunately" and so on. If you find yourself using them frequently, chances are you're relying too heavily on modifiers instead of using more powerful verbs. For example, this sentence could easily be rewritten: "She quickly pulled open the drawer." How about: "She yanked open the drawer." Or even better: "She ripped the drawer from its hinges."

8. Lack of proofreading

If you hand in a paper with a ton of misspellings, terrible grammar and typos, it makes you look bad. If you write for a living, it can make it hard to keep your job. Proofreading is important for everyone, but especially new writers who tend to have more issues than experienced writers. The best way to proofread is to take time away from your writing project before reading over it yourself. After spending time writing something, you will be too close to the content to notice mistakes. Take at least 24 hours away from the project if possible and then read through your work slowly and carefully. If you can find someone else who can help out with editing, that's even better.

Recognizing some of these mistakes can be the different between remaining a novice writer and growing into a writer who learns from their mistakes. Some times a little trail and error is all you need to improve your creative writing skills. Like the saying goes, "Practice really does make perfect!" It will at least help you grow on the way to perfection.

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