5 Mistakes I Keep Making After Seven Years on Medium
Even after years of practice, we’re all still susceptible to making mistakes every
Like any skill, writing takes practice, time, and effort. We practice by writing often. We take the time and effort to brainstorm new ideas, develop them, and edit them. But, even after years of practice, we’re all still susceptible to making mistakes.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The important thing is that we learn from them. After all, that’s what mistakes are for. We just have to do our best to avoid making them again in the future.
However, there are mistakes that are hard to avoid even if we’re the most seasoned Writers. For me personally, these are some that I keep making even after my eight years of publishing online.
Writing headlines that don’t make sense
The first thing that draws any readers’ attention as to whether or not they want to read an article is the headline (and accompanying image as well). I, of all people, should know this because I’ve been on Medium for seven years now.
On top of that, I’ve been professionally working in the advertising industry for eight years and if there’s one thing I’ve learned during this time, it’s that copy and images matter.
However, even after seven years on Medium and eight years in the advertising industry, one of the key mistakes that I still make to this day is writing bad headlines.
Looking back, I realize that some of the headlines I’ve written are either too vague, too ambiguous, irrelevant to the topic, or just plain boring. Which is why you need to spend more time on your headline so your readers aren’t deterred from clicking on it before they even know what it’s about.
Hitting the “Publish” button too soon
The irony in this recurring mistake that I make is that I have literally written an article providing advice to readers to not do this exact thing. Yet, here I am admitting to making this same exact mistake.
But, we’re only human, right? I mean, how can you blame someone for getting so excited to publish their work that they end up doing it prematurely?
Sometimes, we have this idea burning in our mind and we run with it and just want to get it out to the world already. And most of the time, when that’s the case, it actually does end up being a really good article even if it has a few typos here and there.
Regardless, hitting the publish button too soon often results in simple errors that could have been avoided if you just took the time to proofread and edit. Which brings me to my next mistake.
Rushing through proofreading and editing
The whole point of proofreading and editing is to fine-tune your article after you’ve already outlined all the key talking points and made your message clear.
The proofreading and editing process should sometimes take longer than the actual act of writing the article because this is the time where you need to catch any hidden mistakes you might have made.
But, in order to do so, you have to be thorough. You can’t just rush through it, assuming that it’s as good as it should be. That mindset defeats the point of even proofreading at all. You need to take your time to polish it up so that you can deliver a quality piece.
Not actually having a clear, concise message
When I look back at some of my articles that haven’t been curated or accepted into publications, I often get similar feedback (if any) from the editors who reviewed it — that I didn’t really have one definitive message.
After re-reading those articles, I later realize that my paragraphs were mostly ramblings of different talking points that never actually connected with one another. And though I highlighted many points that did make sense, it didn’t necessarily blend into one cohesive message.
Often times, when I get overly enthusiastic about a topic, I end up going spiraling into too many directions which is a problem that I think many other Writers face as well. Though it’s great to have many different talking points and supporting arguments, they all have to eventually lead somewhere.
Taking too long to get to my point
I recently came across an article by Niklas Göke, titled “4 Ways to Not Write an Introduction”. After reading it, I immediately felt like it pointed the finger right at one of my biggest flaws when it comes to writing — starting with a bad introduction. Niklas writes,
“They’re not reading because you wasted their time. You just waited to do it in the intro, and it made them even angrier than a bad title. Now, they clicked on it for nothing. They unwrapped the gift, and it sucked.” — Niklas Göke
4 Ways to Not Write an Introduction
Don’t tell us your life’s story — tell us the story that matters
Even when I do have a clear concise message planned out, it ends up being all for nothing if my readers never actually arrive to the message they were seeking.
This, too, is a mistake that myself and many other Writers often tend to make time and time again. If your reader can’t get past your introduction, then your entire article was a waste.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes. None of us, and I mean none of us, are perfect. But, we can still strive to be as close to perfect as possible.
But, in order for us to do that, we must acknowledge our mistakes and make sure we do our best to avoid making them in the future.
That’s how we progress. That’s how we improve.