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Bad Writing Habits and Ways to Avoid Them

Like any other mere mortal, writers (whether novice or savvy) have bad habits. The difference between a good and a lousy scribbler is the ability of the former to recognize those habits and address them effectively.

Below, you’ll find the common habits for writers to avoid so their texts sound more professional, comprehensive, and engaging.

Let’s start with the most widespread one.

Writing in a Hurry

Pressed by deadlines, some writers try to finish drafts quickly. There’s nothing wrong with instant writing if the inspiration hugs you at the moment, but:

Writing in a hurry, you risk losing focus and missing some critical statements or ideas you plan to mention in your papers. Sacrificing quality for speed, you can write in a poorer language, lose your narrative coherence and logic, and make more mistakes.

To eliminate this habit, make a rule to get off your screen sometimes: It will help you get back on track and write better. If you understand that deadlines don’t wait and you need to finish that text today, consider delegating some writing tasks to experts from an urgent essay writing service like FastEssay.com which will assist you with heavy papers while you work on others.

Ignoring the Audience

Some authors sin of crafting texts as if they were writing to please themselves. It’s a bad habit. If you want people to enjoy reading your masterpieces, consider the audience!

Who will read your works? Always prioritize the audience for your writing to engage and vibe with readers. Consider their pain points and needs to share the information they could relate to and find helpful.

Not Outlining

It’s a bad habit to ignore outlining your texts before writing. It makes your work harder and longer because you’ll have to simultaneously write and decide on statements to add to the draft.

Make it a habit to craft a plan for your future text beforehand. It will take a few minutes but save you a lot of effort: You’ll write faster and won’t miss any essential details.

Editing Before Finished

Some can’t resist the temptation of polishing every sentence while writing instead of making their writing flow. It’s a bad habit as it makes you waste time working in between sentences and lose focus.

Do your best to ignore all typos or grammar mistakes while writing. You’ll have time to edit your draft after it’s complete. To resist the temptation of working on every sentence while writing, turn off your spell- and grammar checkers.

Also, avoid rereading every sentence at once. You’ll do that when proofreading.

Generalizing

It’s a common bad habit of aspiring writers: 

  • They overuse generic adjectives like “good,” “nice,” or “beautiful,” making their texts sound bleak and unspecific.
  • They start sentences with weak phrases like “for example,” “in addition,” or “in fact” when they are not stating any fact.
  • They overuse “etc.” at the end of a succession of things, making their texts look lazy.

All of the above makes writing faint. The audience reads your narrative and doesn’t understand what you are trying to say. 

Try to communicate your thoughts more precisely. Add sensory details to your writing: “Beautiful” can become “inspiring,” “stunning,” “shining;” you can turn “etc.” into specific details and explanations, creating connections between the things you listed.

Be informative, and refrain from making readers guess your point. 

Overusing Clichés

It’s challenging to do, given we often speak with cliché phrases without realizing it, but too much of “every now and then,” “in other words,” and “at the end of the day” hurts writing by far! When working on your drafts, please consider cliché terms you might be overusing.

Buzzwords are also here. A common mistake of newbie writers is their love for so-called trendy words like “innovative,” “passionate,” or “revolutionary.” Sure, they are grammatically correct. However, they lose their original meaning when overused and can annoy the reader.

Make it a habit to use a thesaurus when revising your drafts. It will help diversify your language for more persuasive writing.

Forgetting About Readability

Long paragraphs, too many complex sentences, complicated language, no rhythm —  all this hurts readability and makes your stories hard to perceive. Again, remember about your target audience when writing:

  • Use words they know. (No one will read your texts with a dictionary at hand.)
  • Alternate between short and long sentences for better rhythm.
  • Write in short paragraphs, especially if you craft texts for online publications. (3-4 sentences of around 40-50 words work best; lengthy paragraphs can discourage the audience even before they start reading.)

Trying to Sound Like Other Writers

Do your best to develop your writing style. While it’s okay to “copy” your favorite author when you learn a writing craft, it’s a bad habit to continue practicing this trick throughout your career.

Allow yourself to stand out with a unique writing style. Instead of mimicking others, find your voice and communicate it to your audience.

Passive Writing

Writing in a passive voice is easier, so many newbies fall into the trap of overusing this grammar construction in their texts. But:

Passive writing sounds weak. It bores readers. Make it a habit to write in an active voice; thus, your language will be more energetic and powerful.

Excessive Use of Adverbs and Transitions

Remember Stephen King saying that “the road to hell is paved with adverbs?” 

It doesn’t mean you can’t use this part of speech in your texts. A lousy writing habit is to overuse redundant adverbs instead of finding a stronger verb to communicate your message. Also, relying on -ly adverbs and transition words in every second sentence is not professional: They make your writing weak, uncertain, and vague.

So, let’s control the usage of “ultimately,” “luckily,” “essentially,” “actually,” “probably,” “really,” and other -ly in our texts. While it’s not a grammar mistake to use them, such a writing habit doesn’t add value to your work.

The same is true for transitional phrases. While it’s okay to use a few for text coherence and logical flow, too many of “in addition,” “to put more simply,” or “in another way” do more harm than good. They signal to readers that you’re a lazy writer who needs help putting a few sentences together.

Waiting for Inspiration

It’s a bad writing habit to sit and wait for inspiration to come. Writing isn’t about inspiration; it’s a skill like any other job. You wouldn’t wait for it if you were an accountant, for example, or a driver, would you?

Your writing Muse may not visit you, but tasks and deadlines won’t go anywhere. Make writing your everyday routine: Set a writing schedule and organize a workspace — it will help get in the mood to work and avoid that trap of waiting for inspiration to strike you.

The Bottom Line

Yes, writing is hard. Sometimes, it feels discouraging and seems like an “it’s not for me” niche. But as with any other craft, practice makes perfect:

Keep practicing and working on your bad writing habits — and you’ll succeed.

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