When bad habits resurface.

I would never call myself a writing expert. For one thing, it sounds rude. More to the point, it’s the sort of activity one can always improve.

In fact, if I’ve learned anything since embarking on this career, it’s that each new manuscript teaches me so much about myself and my writing. Yes, I may be at the point where I can trust myself not to make obvious mistakes, but that doesn’t mean a seasoned writer can’t fall back into old patterns. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been the sort to break a habit and feel I’m cured, only to lapse back into it again. It’s sort of like nail biting. I can stop it here and there, but every so often, I find myself taking a nibble when no one’s watching.

In other words, it’s very easy to forget what we’ve learned.

bad-habits

Take my recent manuscript for Predator’s Trinity, Gemini Island Shifters 6. Our friend Monette Michaels recently shared her time and expertise and critiqued my finished story. And boy, am I glad she did! Like any good critique buddy, she pointed out my mistakes. I already knew many were there, but I was surprised to see how many old bad habits I’d fallen into. For instance, I made way too much use of the passive voice. This is easily fixed, thank goodness. A sharp pen and a sharper eye and off we go.

So why would I make so many mistakes that I thought I’d corrected? In this case, I was writing under a bit of duress due to my family situation. With my head in the clouds, I probably couldn’t identify my own bad habits. It was also very important to me that I get this story down and perhaps I rushed a bit. Rushing our writing is never wise but I found solace in writing over the past couple of months, and must not have been paying close enough attention to my technique. It was enough for me, just to get the story down on paper.

How do we correct these errors? The first step is to put the manuscript aside for a while. Let it breathe and take a breather as well. You’ll return fresher, more able to spot problems and inconsistencies. And make sure you have another trusted set of eyes. Monette spotted my problems and was able to communicate them in a clear, caring fashion. Tackle one issue at a time, so as not to get overwhelmed. Little by little, we all get there.

Most of all. Don’t sweat it too much. If you’re able to identify your problems, you can fix them.

Oh, and if you’re tempted to bite your nails like I am, sit on your hands.

8 thoughts on “When bad habits resurface.

  1. Great advice! I know everyone has a bad writing habit or two they wish would go away. It’s so helpful to have someone else read through your work. It’s hard to wait for feedback sometimes, but so worth it. Glad to hear Monette could help! šŸ™‚

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    • It is worth it, Jessica. Anything that helps our books shine. Moni is a gem and so are you! Thanks for visiting, Jessica.

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    • LOL, yes, that happens, too, Jianne. I guess it just keeps us on our toes. Thanks for your comment. Things are getting better day by day and I appreciate you asking. Hugs!

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  2. I find my bad habbits run in cycles, like I am on a never ending loop, I fix and then it all goes into the rinse and repeat. I do understand how writing can help you through difficult times. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. So glad to have been of help. I “knew” what you’d done since I do it myself. Getting the story down for the first time is important since it leads to the real job — going back over and making it better. šŸ™‚

    I wouldn’t expect you or me or any author worthy of the title to get the story perfect in the first complete draft.

    Heck, I’m lucky if I am even getting close to a polished manuscript after the third draft – which is usually when I submit the book for line editing. Even then, I can see things I could do differently, but by that point the plot is fairly fixed and I should only be correcting the occasional lapse into passive or the over-used word thing.

    Currently, I am working on the first revision of my first complete draft. My crit buddy Cheri has sliced and diced — and I just spent the last four days rewriting the first chapter. Yep, the first chapter. I haven’t even looked at her other comments yet (there are 531 of them on an approx 86K book which will end up being a 100+K book).

    The first chapter is important — it introduces my readers to the heroine and provides an insight into what makes her tick. We see where she came from (her home in Appalachia) and since I make a full circle and the last scenes in the book go back to Appalachia, it is important to get this right. So I am – and it is a long and often painful process, but an essential one.

    Rosanna, it is this attention to detail and your need to make each book the best book you can that shows in every book you’ve written. I love your writing. Am honored that you let me help in my own way and that you took my critiques in the way they were meant: with total respect for you as an author. Hugs and ā¤ you, my friend — and I am available to read over the final version — when you're ready.

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  4. Thanks so much, Moni. You are such a pro and such a good friend, to boot. I have no doubt your manuscript will be awesome and I know how hard you work. I’m glad you have your buddy to slash away with you too. LOL Can’t wait to read your newest and you know I’m always here if you want another set of eyes as well.

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