Monday, May 15, 2017

Becoming a writer: Why knowing your strengths and weaknesses MATTERS


Are you feeling discouraged and thinking of giving up?  Or maybe you’re thinking about writing something but you just can’t get started?  Maybe you figure it won’t come out right – so why even bother.  Does any of that sound like you?

Maybe you just don’t know what you’re good at.

I talk a lot on this site about not just writing a book (just one book?) but about becoming a writer – looking at writing as a career (even if you already have a career!).  And part of becoming a writer is figuring out what you’re great at doing… and what doesn’t come so easily for you.

I think I’m good at writing – but when it comes to marketing, which is a big part of being a writer today (like it or not), I don’t think that’s one of my strengths.  What about you?

What are you super-good at?  I bet you know already, but maybe you haven’t spent enough time basking in it.  This could be something you’ve heard from a whole bunch of people.  Maybe you’re secretly proud but don’t want to seem like you’re gloating.

Take the time to enjoy your strengths.  In the table below, you’ll find a bunch of different writing tasks and you’ll have a chance to see exactly how many things you are probably quite good at doing.

Unfortunately, unlike in many careers, you can’t just work on a sub-specialty and ignore the rest.  You will eventually have to deal with everything I’ve listed in the table below – and then some.  But there are some very good reasons to go into writing with your eyes open – with a keen awareness of your own strengths and weaknesses.

Why figure out your strengths?

Identifying your strengths makes you feel good about yourself!  I’m not big into self-esteem just for self-esteem’s sake.  But if you genuinely ARE good at something, you deserve

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Be grateful for editors!


Yesterday, I got the phone call I was dreading – a call from my EDITOR.  I spent half an hour on the phone yesterday with the person in charge of editing my next children’s book, and I have to admit, I had been dreading her call for a while.

I got an email from her when the book was first accepted by the publisher (yay – details to come, I promise!) saying, basically, “We love your book, but naturally, we’re going to have to make some changes to the text.”  Which is their prerogative, right?  I can’t force them to publish my book as-is, no matter how much I love the text, so my best bet if I want to be published is to roll with things.

So.  I was prepared to roll with things.  But that doesn’t mean I was looking forward to her call, in which we would “discuss the changes.”

Ugh.  Did she not realize how much I’d sweated over every single word of that story?  Written, revised, erased, gotten it to the point where it was just about perfect?

Let me tell you – I didn’t feel particularly grateful about the spectre of her call.

When you read a commercially-published book, you’ll often see a bit at the beginning or the end where the author thanks her family, her agent, and then her editor (or editors).  I always took that part for granted until I started working as a novice journalist and working with editors who actually hacked and slashed and carved up my writing to find the most important points within it and bring those to the fore. 

And at first, dealing with those editors, what I felt was mostly ingratitude.  How dare they tell me how to write?  Isn’t writing supposed to be an art form?  And if so, would they swipe their red pens across a Degas or Van Gogh if they didn’t like what they saw on the canvas?

I was being – feel free to slap me now – frankly ridiculous.

Oh, I was gracious enough.  I wanted to keep making money and getting published, so I rolled with it, like I said, and even said “thank you.”  But I wasn’t feeling it.  Oh, boy, was I not.

But gradually,