My personal seven deadly writing sins

The first step is realizing you have a problem… and then you procrastinate further while examining the problem — or by examing your pencil while never putting it to paper to, umm, write.

We all have them — and if you claim not to, you are lying — namely, writing sins. They are things you do that you know you shouldn’t do. Some writers might might actually have more than seven writing sins, but lets face it, seven is much more manageable — plus, there is the whole biblical seven sins… parallelism and all.

But I digress, for today, I’m sharing my seven deadly writing sins.

  1. Procrastination: This is my absolute top writing sin. I will sit down and start typing or editing and then suddenly I’m on Facebook, Deviantart, a forum, Youtube, etc. On the flip-side, sometimes I will plan to start working on a project and then postpone it for one reason or another — and never a good one. To combat this, I started to exercise regularly, which has increased my energy levels and focus.
  2. Redundancy: I can be a little redundant with my writing, and I have to practice constant vigilance. I will repeat facts and sentiments, continually reuse certain words, or write statements that are not really needed.
  3. Too much telling: We all know the old adage: show don’t tell. However, sometimes it is alright to tell, just don’t do it too often since all things must be done in moderation. Sometimes, I cross that line… and catch my slips during revisions.
  4. Self-doubt: We all have those moments when we think that ‘oh, it’s not that good,’ ‘I will never catch the eye of an agent/publisher,’ etc. I am not immune to this despite often having a decently sized ego. I just try to squish that annoying voice down where it is not so vocal and plod along on my merry way.
  5. Wordiness: My sentences have a way of holding too many words (some nothing more than clutter).  It is often true a few probably suffice and work better than the many. However, despite knowing my tendencies, I don’t worry so much about this writing sin while writing; instead, I save tackling it for edits.
  6. Sentence Variation: This kind of ties in with my redundancy writing sin since I can be very redundant with sentence variation, favoring certain structures over others. This results in certain structures taking over the novel and leading to the realm of boring. This is another sin I fix in revisions.
  7. That: This ties in with wordiness since often times the word “that” is unnecessary. I became aware of the cluttering nature of “that” when I started as a staff writer. I then proceeded to de-clutter my manuscript by removing unnecessary that’s. The key to finding these ‘clutterers’ is to read aloud a sentence both with and without “that.” If the sentence sounds good without “that,” delete it.

What are your seven deadly writing sins? Blog about them and include a link below.


Published by smwright

Sarah Wright is the author of The Heritage Lost Series and several other works of speculative fiction. Professionally, she works as a staff writer and editor at a newspaper/magazine company. She enjoys interweaving her love of history into her writing, even in the most fantastic settings.

2 thoughts on “My personal seven deadly writing sins

  1. Great post! I think procrastination, wordiness, and the use of the word “that” are my biggest. I share many of the others that you mentioned too, plus some not mentioned, such as talking heads. I have to make an effort to remember to include actions with my dialogue.

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