Emulating the avoidance of bad habits

Though many of the current posts on this blog focus on practices to emulate, and stuff that might be worth copying when it comes to writer’s style, what is there out there that we should avoid, and stay away from if we really want our writing to have a distinct style?

Jonathan Morrow, associate editor of Copy Blogger, gives us seven bad writing habits that we learned in school, which range anywhere from writing long paragraphs to using sources for every bit of information.

His seventh reason is perhaps the most influential, as it states:

7. Listening to “authorities” more than yourself

Who am I to criticize the writing habits you learned in school?

Well . . . nobody.

Yes, I’m a professional writer. Yes, I have a literature degree. Yes, other writers have paid me up to $200 an hour to edit their work, and they’ve been amazed when all I did was correct the above mistakes.

But that doesn’t mean I’m right. In fact, that’s probably the most important lesson you can learn about writing:

No one but you is an authority on your writing.

Not me. Not your English teachers. Not Strunk and White and their highfalutin Elements of Style.

The longer you write, the more you’ll realize that other writers can’t tell you what to do. You should listen to more experienced writers, sure, but never more than you listen to yourself.

Great writers don’t learn how to write by sitting in writing courses, reading writing blogs, or browsing Barnes & Noble for yet more books on writing.

They learn how to write by coming to a blank page, writing something down, and then asking themselves if it works.

If it does, they keep it. If it doesn’t, they don’t. Then they repeat the process until they finish something they feel is worth publishing.

So, yes. Emulating certain practices can be beneficial.

But doing your own thing can be, too.

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