Friday, June 5, 2015

My Writing Strengths (And Weaknesses)

A few days ago, Cait at Paper Fury wrote a post about her writing strengths and weaknesses.* This was also the topic for the Teens Can Write Too blog chain for May (which I am not a part of, but should be, because the end of my teen years is fast approaching).

I thought this was a fabulous blogging topic and decided to make a list of my own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to my writing.

*Yes, even the superb Cait has weaknesses. 

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I am very aware of my flaws. They glare in my face on a daily basis.

My plots are a tangly mess.
I can't plot to save my life. I've tried notebooks, I've tried index cards, I've tried virtual tools, I've tried multiple different post it methods. But no matter what, the various strings of my plots just kind of refuse to cooperate. And it seems that the more I try to develop the plot, the more boring it becomes! Why? I have no idea.

I rarely finish my novels.
No, this isn't exactly going to help me get books published, I know. For multiple reasons endings are just an extreme struggle for me. Things never tie together neatly and the stories just keep going on and on and on and on...

This is definitely not related to my inability to plot effectively. Oh no. I see no connection.

I'm afraid of risk-taking.
Swear words? Steamy romance scene (even sans sex)? Some kind of controversial issue? I tread extremely lightly around these things, because they scare me. I'm the epitome of "good girl" in real life, but I know that in writing I have to stretch the limit sometimes, and my characters are (usually) not like me. But it's HARD and SCARY. I've always been scared of putting myself out there, even if it's in the privacy of a crappy first draft that no one will ever read. My conscience (or timid inner Sophia) is sometimes irrationally and unneededly loud.

I'm not good at keeping a writing schedule.
I write in weird bursts here and there, and very rarely. Part of this is because I am a busy student, and being a writer is not my single career goal. However, it is just as much a career goal for me as is being a doctor, which means I should be devoting equal time to them, right? Well, I'm not. I've gotten good at chemistry because I've taken five chemistry classes so far. I've done HOURS and HOURS of chemistry. I'm GOOD at chemistry (reasonably, at least). 
I have probably spent ten times as much time doing chemistry then I have writing. No surprise, my writing skill is progressing really slowly. 
As my (wonderfully supportive non-writer) mother told me, "If you are seriously considering writing as a career, you have to prepare for it as such." Perhaps I don't have to write every day, but I SHOULD write at least once a week!

Bragging time. Because I'm never one to indulge in false humility.

I can make well-rounded characters all day.
My characters are awesome (not gonna lie). But, because my plots are sad, I don't have enough stories for all my characters. I have a notebook full of my homeless babies that need a story! :-(

I do writing good.
But seriously, I'm a grammar pro and can spell things like "antidisestablishmentarianism" without spell check. Fancy, huh? I can tell you exactly when to use "whom" vs. "who," "then" vs. "than," "its" vs. "it's," and "their" vs. "they're" vs. "there."
But if you're scared of my wrath, should you misspeak or misspell, don't worry. I'm not a grammar Nazi. I won't abandon our friendship for a grammar error. :-)

I've got plenty of ideas.
They may not be plots, necessarily, but I am definitely a font of creativity when it comes to scenes, characters, and settings. Oh, settings! Settings really inspire me - Venice is MY MUSE. My goal, a lot of the times, is to transfer into words the feeling that a place gives me. This is, as you may guess, quite hard. But I'm working on it!

My villains kick butt.
This is a continuation of the character excellence bit, but in all humility, my villains are pretty darn awesome. I've been taking lessons from Victor Hugo.

What are your writing strengths and weaknesses? Do you excel at plotting (GIVE ME TIPS) or at characters? And how do you schedule out writing times?



  1. Very interesting! As a semi-retired teacher of English composition and literature, I enjoyed reading about your writing challenges. Here is my only advice: stay positive, and keep writing!

    Now that I have discovered your blog, I will return often.

    As for my writing strengths, I write frequently; as for my writing weaknesses, I write too little, I use too many adverbs, and I hate proofreading my own work.

    BTW, blogging has been a great writing "outlet" for many people. My "outlet" is "Beyond Eastrod."

    1. Welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed my post.

      Oh adverbs. I think they are the bane of every writer!

      And blogging is definitely a great outlet. I'ts kept me writing even when I don't feel like working on my novels.

    2. BTW, I am not unaware of the ironies involved in using adverbs to denounce adverbs. I rather like the approach of "minimalists" -- Hemingway and Carver, for example -- when it comes to syntax and writing. I wish I could be so disciplined. In my teaching experiences, however, I have found another problem: writers are hard-pressed to identify adverbs let along curtail their usage; grammar instruction, I think, has gone the way of the dinosaurs in schools. As a dinosaur, though, I persist in emphasizing grammar. Shame on me!

    3. Oh I entirely agree! Simplicity in writing is a priceless skill and I hope to be able to write like that someday.

      Grammar is important - good for you in continuing to emphasize it!

  2. I have plotting issues as well. You are not alone!

    And I have homeless characters as well. I make a profile for them and stick them in an "adoption" folder on my computer. Once I finally have a great idea for a story I go through my "adoption" folder and find characters that will fit in with the story.

    And I have no tips on a writing schedule. My little family doesn't always have a set schedule so I have to just take the writing time anywhere I can find it. Usually at night after my daughter is in bed. I keep a notebook with me everywhere I go so that if an idea strikes I can write it down quickly and then go back and visit it when I actually have the time to write.

    Great post!

    1. Oh another character writer! Our poor homeless characters... :-(

      Finding time to write can be so challenging! Carrying a notebook around has become status quo for me - it's so useful for jotting things down. :-)

  3. WHAT? NO. I WAS LYING ABOUT MY "WEAKNESSES". THEY WERE A JOKE. YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY THINK I WAS SERIOUSLY BECAUSE I AM PERFECT IN ALMOST EVERY WAY TRULY NOW. *ahem* But also, if you write epic villains, I'm officially your best friend. I ADORE villains. I almost always root for them, (unless their name is Snape then he can go die) because I like dubious backstories. xD ahem. Taking risks is hard. I often baulk at taking risks with cultures I don't know much about because I'm scared of writing them badly. >_<
    I mean.
    I don't have weaknesses. Omg. I don't.


      But ONLY because we are now officially best friends.


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