Common Mistakes

This Guest Post is by Patricia Cole. Patti was a founder member of Pens Around the World. She left us when she and her husband moved back to England after 15+ years in Greece.

What to write about? How can I think in this blistering heat? The temperature here is over 40C in the shade on our terrace! 

So…..perusing my bookshelf for inspiration, I came across this book – The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack M Bickham. 

Here is my take on a few that caught my attention. 

  1. Don’t Make Excuses 

I sit at my computer, but the screen is still quite blank, 

Although I make excuses, it’s just myself to thank 

The washing up is done, and I now must make the bed 

Why is it no inspiration is popping into my head? 

The cat wants out, the dog is barking, now the postman’s here 

No more bills I hope, perhaps a letter from someone dear. 

I need to settle down and write and stop this procrastination 

I must now discipline myself and stop responsibility abrogation 

  1. Don’t expect miracles. 

It looks so easy; don’t you think to write yourself a novel 

A good idea in your head, a character quite amoral. 

Your fingers fly across the keys, you know you cannot fail 

This is the novel of the year, an actual holy grail. 

But then, rejections letters flow with comments quite unkind. 

A lesson which is very hard, but if you want to, you will find 

That writing is a craft that requires hard work and learning. 

But stick to it and work at it and rewards will start ascending. 

  1. Don’t forget sense impressions 

You touch, you feel, you see, you smell, it is all part of living 

If your characters also do all this, their credibility will start growing 

People then will come to life and jump right off the page 

Your readers then will find at last with them they can engage. 

  1. Don’t assume you know – look it up 

It’s easy to assume you know because you’ve heard it said, 

But if you get it wrong, it jars, your credibility is gainsaid. 

So always, always look it up and check before you write, 

Your readers will believe in you because you got it right. 

  1. Don’t criticise yourself to death. 

But in the end, have confidence, you can do this if you try. 

Put in the work and take your time, there is no reason why, 

Your good idea, given time may catch a publisher’s attention, 

Who knows where it may go from there, could earn yourself a pension. 

Book cover: The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)


  1. Some good tips there Pat, and the rhymes contribute to making them memorable. I’m glad you were able to overcome the heat!

    Making excuses is my Achilles heel . Now if only I could turn it into a superpower… 🙂

  2. Thank you all for your positive comments. I was struggling to find something to write about and wasn’t sure that this qualified as a blog!

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