Thursday, March 7, 2013

9 Things Not to Do as a Writer

As some of you know, Writer Abroad runs a writing workshop in Zurich. Every year, writers submit work for critique by our authors in residence, and every year, Writer Abroad is once again amazed by the number of writers who do not follow the submission instructions—even those who register for advanced workshops.

Forget great writing—yes, you must have that too—but as a writer, it’s easy to stand out from the crowd just by following submission instructions.

Over the last four years, here are some of the main problems Writer Abroad has observed while collecting submissions:

1. Writers don’t meet deadlines and think they should have an exception.

2. Writers submit up to 10 (!) more pages than is allowed.

3. Writers use single spacing instead of the requested double spacing.

4. Writers mess with margin sizes to cram as much text as possible on a page.

5. Writers don’t put their names on their files.

6. Writers don’t send documents in correct formats (when a .doc is requested, don’t send a .docx or a .pdf).

7. Writers use strange fonts (you should have a good reason to use anything other than Times New Roman).

8. Writers annoy gatekeepers by going around them.

9. Writers send several emails with different submissions, each time saying, “I changed my mind, use this one instead.”

Moral of the story? If you’re submitting something, make sure to check the guidelines. Then double-check them. Then triple-check them. Make sure what you’re sending is what you want to send even though this sounds obvious. Do all of this before you click send. It’s only professional. Editors, judges, and workshop coordinators everywhere will have a good impression of you from the start. Isn’t that what all writers want?

If you're an editor, writing judge, or other submission collector, what mistakes do you see writers making?


  1. I agree with you with one exception (not really an exception, but perhaps a bit of empathy). Many of us aren't very tech savvy and wouldn't even know that they were sending a docx instead of a doc. Granted, the ones fiddling around with the margins probably know exactly what they're doing.

  2. Funny- I give these EXACT same rules to my high school seniors, and I still get Hamlet essays written in 16 point Comic Sans. It kills me every time!

  3. I teach writing and edit too, and I see all the same things.

    Also, writers who claim not to know how to get a word count, do spell check, insert page numbers, use left-aligned margins (instead of justified), and all sorts of other very basic word processing functions. I tell them - if you are going to write, then second only to your brain, your word processing software is your main tool and you must learn how it works!

  4. I completely agree, Lisa. Does a plumber show up without knowing what's in his tool belt? As a writer, it's your responsibility to know the technology that comes with the job. If you don't, then "unpublished" is probably what your work will end up being.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Can one jailbreak iOS 10 / iOS 10.0.2 / 10.0.1? If not, what is latest on iOS 10 / 10.0.2 jailbreak status for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices? you can get answer of this Question as now you can get iOS 10 jailbreak.



Related Posts with Thumbnails