Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Five Writing Strengths

My friend and fellow Lighthouse Writers Workshop member, Kristi at Yoga Gumbo tagged me with a meme to identify five writing strengths I have. Like most others, I am more than happy to enumerate my weaknesses, but I'm a little reluctant to come up with strengths. After reflecting, I found it was an important exercise.

I’m just doing it in public.

1. I handle description well. Because of the workshop I just finished, I actually do have some external feedback to draw on. The most consistent positive critique I received was this.

2. My writing voice is somewhat distinct. I think people who have read my work could identify an excerpt of mine in a lineup.

3. I am not sentimental. As much as I tend to fall in love with a piece of dialogue, or the pretty turn of a phrase, I have no hesitation about cutting things that don’t fit. I believe this is known as “killing your darlings”.

4. I read a lot. I do this to learn and I am certain there is a direct correlation between reading and writing well.

5. I’m developing an ability to provide useful critique. I never anticipated how important the art of critique would prove to be in my journey. People place a lot of focus on seeking meaningful feedback, but I have learned a great deal about my own writing by learning how to closely read and provide feedback to others. I’m working to further develop my eye and my editing abilities in order to become a better writer.

I plan to revisit this list every few months. This was a useful meditation and I plan to follow it up by honestly thinking about my weaknesses – in private – in order to focus my goals.

Although I grimaced a little when I got the email from Kristi, telling me about this meme, I realize she gave me a gift. I hope the five people I tag will consider it the same. Even though I’ve only listed five people, I hope everyone who reads this post will give it a try. Leave your answers in the comments here if you're willing to share!

Kristen at From Here to There and Back

Ello at Random Acts of Unkindness

Charles at Razored Zen

Shauna at For Love of Words

Patti at The Patti-O


Melissa Marsh said...

I think as writers, we're always quick to point out our short-comings. But this is a great way to reinforce all the things we're GOOD at and need to remember when we're suffering from the dreaded "I stink" phases.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully positive activity. Especially given that most writers I know are the most self deprecating bunch of mental saboteurs I've ever met. Myself included.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Well, I'm not sure I can list 5 things right now (I do have a WIP to finish!), but I've been told, and I happen to think it's true, that I write good dialogue. Which is a good thing because I love to write it.

i also have a thick skin--really good for writers!

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for tagging me—I was clueless what to blog about this week, and you gave me the answer, as well as a useful exercise.

Yogamum said...

I'm glad you managed to do it. I think you are right on target about your strengths -- all of them! I'm glad we met and I'm looking forward to the next workshop!!

Larramie said...

Not being "sentimental" made me smile, Lisa. Why? You have no problem "killing your darlings" as you worry about your friends.

And what a powerful and positive exercise!

Bernita said...

All real "strengths.
Rebecca summed it up well.

Lisa said...

Melissa, isn't it the truth? This was an especially self-conscious exercise for me, because I am a very inexperienced writer, compared to most of my friends on line.

Becky, it's kind of nice to stop agonizing shortcomings and look for some of the legitimate strengths that help to motivate us. I recommend this exercise to everyone.

Judy, you write kick-ass dialogue. I will vote for that. I think I've told you that in the past. I don't think I know anyone who can write a casual conversation that sounds more genuine than you can. Thick skin -- I should have thought of that one too!

Shauna, I was in the same boat! Glad to help -- and I am really interested in seeing what you post because you are so thoughtful about these things.

Kristi, it was a little intimidating, so thank you for the vote of confidence. I am also looking forward to the next. Apparently Angela is coming back and Josh is on the waiting list!

Larramie, OK, you caught me. The darlings aren't really dead, just sitting off in another file somewhere. Even if I never use them, I know they still exist :)

Lisa said...

Bernita, she really did. I would love to see your list. You write such elegant prose!

Charles Gramlich said...

Reading is a very good one. I'm afraid I'm not strong at all in giving critique's. I wish I was better. I am at times sentimental.

I will respond to this meme by the weekend. seems like a fun one.

Anonymous said...

What a great, positive post! Even though you didn't tag me for this one, I think I would love to try this myself. I think I create engaging characters that readers care about, and I think I write good dialogue. I need to think about the other three...wait, one more. I do think I have a facility with language--I can write "pretty."

And I loved your list...especially the part about not being sentimental, because I think that trait will mean that your writing will only continue to get better and better!

moonrat said...

yay for reading writers!

liz fenwick said...

Great list of strengths!

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf