Monday, April 11, 2016

22 Bad Things Writers Can Do

What is the worst offense a writer can do?

Don’t answer so quickly.  Consider some of the choices:

1.      Plagiarize.

2.      Lie in his or her writings.

3.      Fail to fact-check.

4.      Misspell, misuse, or abuse words.

5.      Bore the reader.

6.      Violate the copyright of someone.

7.      Fail to interview the appropriate sources.

8.      Misquote people or content.

9.      Passing opinion off as fact.

10.  Writing with a particular slant due to unidentified compensation.

11.  Using your writing to hurt someone.

12.  Writing something you don’t actually believe.

13.  Passing information along as if new but it’s really dated.

14.  Writing libelous or slanderous things.

15.  Hacking or breaking laws to obtain information that you use for your writings.

16.  Saying you have an anonymous source when it’s really you.

17.  Writing with product placement that wasn’t revealed.

18.  Writing based on a misunderstanding or lack of awareness of relevant facts.

19.  Using your abilities to write persuasively to support a viewpoint that is dangerous.

20.  Knowing you’re just mailing it in and not writing at even half the level you’re capable of.

21.  Lie, cheat, steal, or commit violence to assist you in your writings.

22. Writing with an undisclosed conflict of interest.

You probably don’t spend too much time thinking about things you shouldn’t do. Whether it’s a legal, ethical, financial, or other reason that keeps you from doing the wrong thing, keep it that way.  The world is filled with too many wrongs.  Writes make things better – or at least they write stuff that makes us feel better.

But the art of writing – like most skills or assets – can be used for bad purposes.  Good people do bad things every day – whether intentionally, accidentally, or from being indifferent and apathetic.  Writers generally hold themselves out to be intellectuals of a higher moral character. They may suffer from addictions and obsessions – and have wild fantasies and dark thoughts – but many of them want to write because they want to be heard and to influence some positive action.  But as we can see on matters of politics, religion, and sexuality, many writers can frequently disagree with one another, each thinking the writings of the other to be misguided , misinformed, inaccurate, and downright dangerous.

Just how much would we tolerate from our favorite writers?  What type of faux pas would it take for you to disown a writer and boycott his or her work?  What standard should we hold our writers to?

For me, the writing has to be good, pure, accurate, and original.  Do I care that you like to have sex with a donkey or to snort cocaine?  Not at all. I generally try to separate a writer’s personal behavior, views, or lifestyle from his work – unless it corrupts the very work that I enjoy.  I mean it’s harder to respect a book of fatherly advice if you find out the author was arrested for beating his kids.  It kind of undermines his opinions.  And yet, if I knew nothing of the writer’s life and just enjoyed the book at face value, I would forever love the book.  I don’t like to feel that a writer can impact how I feel about the writing, but could there really be a complete separation between the two?

Writers have a lot of power and influence, to get us to feel, to see what’s not apparent, to know a secret, to teach a fact, to make us look at things we normally deny ourselves of experiencing – and so for all the good they can do they can equally hurt, destroy, and erode our lives.

Writers have a great responsibility, even a burden, to not only write great things – but to achieve such writings without harming others, themselves, their craft, or the truth.

So what would be the greatest offense for any writer?

To not write at all.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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