The 3 Most Common Writing (Thinking) Mistakes Nonfiction Authors Make

Hands typing on laptop

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Note that I put “thinking” in parentheses. This post isn’t about common grammatical errors—it’s about common mistakes authors make in thinking about their subjects and how to present them.

In my experience as a developmental editor, I’ve seen many nonfiction authors dive into their topics without thinking much about the audience first. But this approach can lead to confusion—because you’re jumping into a subject from your own vantage point as an expert. You’ve lived the experience and researched the heck out of the topic, usually over a span of years or decades.

In other words, you’re too close to the material to know if you’re explaining it clearly to those who are less familiar, or maybe even unfamiliar.

Remember, unless you’re writing a book for people with the precise same expertise as you, you’re likely to have blind spots about reader understanding. Not taking these blind spots into consideration means you could be confusing your audience more than helping them, which is the opposite of your intention. (Unless you’re an evil mastermind, that is.)

With these blind spots in mind, here’s my answer to the question, “What are the most common writing mistakes you see?”

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Where to Submit Your Work for Publication: Advice for Beginners

woman writing with pencil at table

Photo by Kat Stokes on Unsplash

This post is for new creative writers—writers of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry—who don’t know where to begin seeking an audience for their short-form work.

Maybe you’re launching a writing career without the benefit of an MFA program. Perhaps you come from a different professional background altogether, having little to do with creative writing. Maybe you’re a lawyer, a tax accountant, a doctor, or an Uber driver. (All clients I’ve worked with, by the way!) Where do you start looking for places to submit your shorter form creative work?

Here’s a list of resources I shared recently with a friend who’s writing ghost stories while pursuing a masters degree in urban planning. (Proof that you don’t need an MFA to write and submit.)

Read moreWhere to Submit Your Work for Publication: Advice for Beginners

New Testimonial: book coaching and developmental editing a first draft

I’m happy to share a new testimonial from a client I’ve been working with this year as a writing coach and developmental editor (2019):

“Working with Kristen transitioned me from a hopeful writer to seeing myself as a committed author. She has been the only reason I have progressed to the point of completion. She not only held me accountable to timelines, she was consistent and efficient with her input and progress. She kept me on my toes, but did not smother me with intimidating and overwhelming deadlines. I just felt like I wanted to work hard because of the effort she was putting into me. She made my dream of what I wanted to express come to life, but also turned it into a valuable reader experience.”

Leslie Harrington, a transformational health coach, is headed into the final stretch on her first draft and I couldn’t be more thrilled for her. Her book’s going to help so many people cope (and even thrive) with chronic health challenges. You can see her testimonial along with others on my home page and services page.