I’ve been discovering a lot about my writing strengths and weaknesses lately, more so as I’ve been working with other people’s stories for Havok, but also as I’ve gotten more feedback about my own work. I’m definitely a pl0t-first writer. I have great ideas for grand worlds and adventures, and then I have to stick people in there and hope they have a reasonably good reason for being there. Character development and character arc are hard for me. The Hero’s Journey and other such character helps sort of whistle past my brain leaving little to no impact. I have to really reach deeply into my mind to figure out my people. Which is pretty odd, given that I’m largely a people person and I understand people for the most part.
As I’ve worked on editing for Havok, I’ve discovered I edit in a similar way to how I write. I’m great at seeing plot holes and figuring out how to make the story world make sense, but I don’t always notice or care about character arc or some of the more line-edit types of details. It takes a lot more work and focus for me to go back over things and really take a critical view of things that are outside my regular comfort zone.
Of course, as writers (and as people), we should constantly be growing. We should be learning new things and applying them, and striving to continually get better, but sometimes we get to a point where we don’t even know what we’re doing wrong, so we don’t know how to fix it. We don’t know where our weaknesses are, so it’s hard to improve them.
This is when it’s most important to be willing to listen to feedback. I hate confrontation. I hate being told I’m doing things wrong. I hate the feeling of rejection when someone says I (or what I’ve written) isn’t good enough. It’s extremely painful. But it’s necessary. I can’t be perfect at everything, so I need people around me who are good at the things I’m not good at to balance me out and show me how I can improve. I need a different set of eyes to look at my work and show me the things I missed. I need to be willing to learn from my mistakes as well as my successes. And I need to be humble enough to accept that criticism is helpful, even as it is painful.
What about you? Where are your strengths (writing or otherwise)? What are you working to improve? Who helps you learn?