The Deadly Sins of Writing

What are three of the seven deadly sins of writing? A Dutch writer’s magazine provides the answer and I found two of the three of them extremely insightful. Will they help me finally get rid of the writer’s block that has been plaguing me for months?

Schrijven magazine names three of the seven deadly sins in their first issue of 2012. They are:

1. Procrastination
According to the magazine, every writer will, at times, procrastinate and think that tomorrow will offer more than today. The truth is that you can’t wait for inspiration but that inspiration is waiting for you.

It’s that last line that I find – for lack of a better word – inspiring. Only if I sit down to write will I actually write. This isn’t in itself something new to me, since I joined a writing group because of the deadlines it sets for submitting stories. But that last line is something I can hold on to. I need to print it out in large block letters and hang it up in my study.    

2. Overconfidence
The magazine talks about the huge number of bad manuscripts that land on publishers desks because writers send them thinking they have a masterpiece, without considering their target audience

I don’t recognize myself in this situation. I think my problem is the opposite: a lack of confidence as I have submitted only one story to a publisher (and it was rejected). Apart from that, I have written nothing I’m satisfied with, which I think is publishable.

3. Wrong intentions
Some people write so that they can call themselves writers, or to attain the status that goes with being a writer, the magazine states. They therefore lose sight of the writing process that can be so much fun.

This was the real eye-opener for me. I’m not saying that I write simply to be a “published author” one day, but for the past few months I have lost the pleasure of actually writing. Going to a writing workshop has begun to feel like a chore (where people are depending on me to critique their work). I always have a great time when I’m there and I leave pumped and energized. I see all the joys of the writing process and I leave with inspiration. It’s like going to the gym.

But the buzz is gone by the next morning and I wonder why I should bother putting in the energy to write. Shouldn’t I be spending my time doing something to advance my career instead?

Seeing writing itself as a hobby, and taking my eye off the prize (being published) has given me back my writing spirit. I mean, how many people play basketball in the weekend knowing that they’ll join the NBA? Writing gives me relief from a busy working week and gives me the energy I need. That’s what I need to hold on to.

And the other sins
Not in the magazine itself, but online the editors published the other four deadly sins of writing: defensiveness, disinterest in fellow writers, laziness and sloppiness. With the help of Google translate, you can read the page here in English.)



4 thoughts on “The Deadly Sins of Writing

  1. Maybe I’m just odd, but I’ve actually found myself struggling with disinterest in other writers. I’ve got all the energy of an ADD 8-year-old (after a cup of tea or two) and working with some of the harshest editors out there has given me the thickest skin of any writer I know. But with that comes a sort of arrogance. “Oh, you’re still working on that short story of yours from last month? Let me tell you about the new novel I just queried…”

    It really just takes a sort of long-term networking mindset to help me. If I realize that one day, these writers might be the person I need to know at Generic Giant Publishing Company, I’m far more willing to put in the time with them.

  2. Thanks for sharing these deadly sins. I think defensiveness is the hardest to overcome. Luckily, I’ve found a writing buddy who has so much tact, she hasn’t raised my defenses. But she has improved my writing. 🙂

  3. I can definitely relate to everything you wrote in this article! My biggest sin would have to be procrastination. Every since my days at university, I always left everything till the very last minute. I’ve always enjoyed writing however, and it is something I am very passionate about. Getting myself to sit and actually write however, is an entirely different story.

    I guess that was one of the main reasons I started a blog. I needed to have some sort of reason to write. A commitment so I feel inclined to write more often. So far, I’ve been doing well I think.

  4. Thanks for the link to the article, Vanessa. I think procrastination is the one I fall into. One of the ways I procrastinate, it seems, is by reading blogs! 😀 I also like the “inspiration is awaiting you” quote.

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