a_r_williams (a_r_williams) wrote,

Burn the Candle at Both Ends: Improve Strengths & Weaknesses

Everyone has strengths. Everyone has weaknesses. How you handle each can play an important part in how you develop as a writer.

I have two books that talk about making improvements ( not necessarily in writing ). One says that it's more important to maximize your strengths. By maximizing what you excel at, you gain a greater chance to succeed. If you work on your talents you can go from being 1 in 1,000 to maybe 1 in 100. The idea behind this method of success is that if you're already good at something, by improving it, you will stand that much further above the crowd.

The other says to work on your weaknesses. By limiting or eliminating your weaknesses you make yourself stronger. Weaknesses can lower the quality of your work, so when you limit them or remove them, that quality will become much better for it.

I think a writer should use both methods in order to improve. Burn the candle at both ends.

Find what you excel at: characters, description, plotting, world-building, etc. and make the most of it. Find ways to make what you are good at, even better. Make your characters the most true to life, or complex, or realistic, or most sympathetic. Make your description dazzle, your plotting sizzle, or your world-building awesome. Focus on that strength, build it, improve it until people start to comment on it consistently, until what you’re good at starts standing above or equal to the best. "Wow! You write the most believable characters." or "Your world-building made me feel like this place really existed."

 However, don't just work on your strengths. Steadily nibble away at your weaknesses until they are gone or marginalized. Study, improve, and learn. Pick an area you do not excel at and bring that skill level up. Find out how to make your characters real, or your plot fast paced, your world-building out of this world, or your description pretty good. You do not need to excel at these areas just yet ( but maybe one day ). You just need to make it so that people will not notice them as easily.

 If you try this approach, your rejections may start off as form letters. Then they might change to we like your strength, but you had too many weaknesses. Eventually you may graduate to "Wow! Nice plotting, but this one little area threw us off. Please try us again." which may morph to "We didn't like this weakness, but your strength was so good we just couldn't resist."

 If you work hard at becoming the best at your strength and not the worst at your weaknesses, people will begin to notice what you excel at, above what you’re not as good at.

Tags: writing tips
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