Skip to content

Are you making this writing mistake?

Hello Writing Etc. Subscriber!

Happy December, welcome to the crazy holiday season.

You may have noticed that I didn’t send out a second issue of Writing Etc. last month. I have a good reason for that. I took some time off from Writing Etc. I have a good reason, however.

While I can’t reveal any details at this moment, I’ve been hard at work on a special project with a group of writers and it turns out that it just may get picked up by a major publisher in its field.

Exciting stuff!

So, I’ve been hard at work on that project, I’ve got another I’m working on for PlantBasedChefs, and I’ve got other projects bubbling here, there, everywhere.

That’s what I love about writing, you never know where you’ll end up.

To that end, I’m sometimes asked to critique other writer’s submissions and thought you might find this one interesting. Here’s the background:

This person is a university professor. They were asked to write a 5000 word piece for an anthology. Target audience: general public leaning slightly towards a higher education. Subject was philosophical in nature.

These were my comments, I hope you’ll find them useful in your own writing career:

I just finished reading your submission. It’s very well written. Very academic. I figure I understood around 2/3 of it. I took one philosophy course (101) back in the early 90s so I’m probably not the target audience.

That said, I’m very impressed with the writing. Punctuation is fab, as is the sentence structure.

Quick story: After I graduated from the university in ’95 I started freelancing. Couldn’t sell a thing. Shortly thereafter I hired a writing coach and he asked to read my best writing. I sent him everything, especially the writing my professors called “brilliant” (I graduated Summa Cum Laude). I attached them to an e-mail, whipped off a fast message describing each document, and hit “send.”

A few days later, my coach wrote back saying, “I can tell you’re going to be a very good freelance writer because you write the BEST e-mails. The rest of your writing sucks (won’t sell), but the e-mail message you wrote… perfection.”

So, we spent the next two years unlearning all my academic writing and relearning how to communicate effectively with the average reader, a very oral writing style. “Make the words invisibly carry the message,” was our mantra. Any time the reader has to pause to wonder, is perplexed, has to look up a word, etc., you’ve just lost their train of thought and you’ve just lost them as a reader. I took our work together very seriously, I mastered the techniques he advocated, and have made a living writing ever since.

I mention this story not to say I don’t like your writing style, I do. I mention it to say that I’m probably not the person to critique your writing. I can check your mechanics (they’re darn near perfect), but I’m not a philosopher nor am I an academic. And when you combine philosophy with math equations (first page), you just about lost me. But I kept going and the reading definitely got easier as I went along.

Good use of quotes and great resources btw.

I liked your subject, but kept wondering why I should care about whether I, or anyone else, have free will. (I wrote advertising for over a decade so I can’t help but wonder these things.)

It’s one thing to write an essay, it’s another to REALLY connect it to your reader. Writing with the reader in mind is a lot tougher than writing with yourself or your subject matter in the forefront of your consciousness. I think that’s the biggest mistake most writers make: they write for themselves and/or they write about a topic. They don’t write for their readers.

I hope I’m not being too tough… I’m not sure what your vision is for this project. However, I mention it, because you are an excellent writer, you clearly know your subject matter, and it would be a shame if your thoughts on the subject weren’t widely read.

Just my thoughts on a cold, rainy day.

Beth 🙂

P.S. Do you always focus on your reader rather than the subject matter? Are you able to intuit the subtle differences between the two views? This title will help you navigate this thorny situation. We’re talking three volumes of hard core freelance information in one handy download. As always, I appreciate your support for this project. 🙂

Just click below for details:


Writing Etc./Filbert Publishing News – October 1, 2012

ISSN: 1545-5580

Make Your Writing Sparkle. Write Killer Queries, Get Published.

Join the brightest, most ambitious, and talented group of writers on the ‘net.


To subscr*ibe to Writing Etc. and receive the fr*e e-book, “Power Queries,” surf here:

Forward Writing Etc. to all your friends! They’ll be glad you did.

You can easily manage your subscription to Writing Etc. by clicking the links at the end of this e-mail.


You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.”



I Recommend:

Writing For Dollars! The FREE ezine for writers featuring tips, tricks and ideas for selling what you write. Receive the FREE ebook, 83 WAYS TO MAKE MONEY WRITING when you subscribe. Email to -*-

WRITERS FIND MARKETS EASILY – Worldwide Freelance has a NEW fully-searchable Markets Database. Discover writing markets from North America, Europe, Australia and other places. It’s free, so come and try it out



Published inWriting Etc.