f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Strengths and Weaknesses: Or Step One on My Path to Becoming a Self-Help Guru

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Strengths and Weaknesses: Or Step One on My Path to Becoming a Self-Help Guru

In tackling the most recent “nuts and bolts” conversation on character description you may have noticed that, on a few occasions, I admitted that characterization wasn’t a particular strength of mine as a writer. This wasn’t false modesty. It’s just how I evaluate myself as a writer and my comfort with various aspects of putting together a novel.

No book is strong in every area. No writer is strong in every area.

A few months ago the marketing department read a “business” book that I actually found pretty helpful in its basics. The book was called Now, Discover Your Strengths and it posited this theory (my summary):

Successful people and companies do not learn to overcome weaknesses. Instead they seek to neutralize their weaknesses and spend the rest of their efforts maximizing and developing their strengths.
Part of the point of the book is that, often, we spend a LOT of time and effort trying to become good at something that we’re just not good at. Instead we should become competent enough so that area doesn’t harm us and, instead, focus on developing and perfecting those areas in which we are talented.

(If you’d like, you can imagine me now, onstage with one of those tiny, headset mics, bouncing around trying to pump you guys up. Like a svelter Tony Robbins without the chin that scares children.)

I think there’s a lot of validity to that POV when writing. We all need to achieve competency across a wide variety of writing areas. We need to understand plotting and dialogue and pace and tone and syntax and we also need to apply it, with some level of success, in our novels.
That said, we need to play to our strengths.

And so it becomes key to begin discovering what those strengths are.

So, next week, we’re going to spend a week of self-evaluation. We’re going to think of every aspect of novel writing and look at it as a strength, a weakness, or an atrophied area that does need to be developed. Sound exciting? Good.

PS: Apparently, I miss the marketing department, as this is as close as I’ve come to being a life coach or a motivational speaker as I’ve ever come. Next thing you know I’ll be reading that Cheese book and using words like “incentivize” as though it meant something.(I’m kidding. I love the folks in our marketing department. They’re great people who I can poke fun at a little now.)
Go to Day 1 of Evaluating Your Strengths and Weaknesses