It’s human nature to want to progress. One of the best and worst parts of being human is that once we solve a problem or master a skill, we immediately start looking towards the next thing.
We don’t just do this to ourselves, but others too.
At a friend’s wedding, we ask when they will start having kids; a week after someone has given birth, we ask when they will have another; and we toast a new graduate while asking, ‘What now?’ (This problem is so prevalent that Ann Patchett wrote a commencement speech and then published a tiny book by the same name.)
We do this as writers too. We’re constantly looking for ways to develop our skills, to reach a greater audience, and to generally improve.
The gap between where they are and where we are may be wide or narrow, but it is there all the same.
We’re told one of the best ways to improve our writing is to read more, and this is one of the easiest ways to become aware of our weaknesses as a writer, but it can also be a great source of inspiration as it shows us what is possible.
As creatives, we are so aware of the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
With our eye on the prize, we focus intently on our weakness.
We’re berate ourselves for being ‘bad’ at …
Of course, it’s important to be aware of our weaknesses, but I invite you to think about what are your writing superpowers?
What aspects of writing come naturally to you? What can you do so easily that you’re not even aware of it, or think about it as special?
Write them down or ask a writing buddy, your critique partner, betareaders, or editor.
To give you a little inspiration here are my three superpowers:
- Application of feedback
You’ll note that none of these aspects have to do with craft element but instead relate to mindset and behaviour.
1 / Dedication
I gave up a lucrative job and moved city (multiple times) to pursue writing and writing-related study. (NB: I don’t have a mortgage or kids, but I do have a high tolerance for risk!).
You don’t have to give up your job or move cities to prove that you are dedicated to writing, those are massive decisions with massive ramifications, and to be honest, it’s the mundane, garden-variety dedication that creates meaningful results.
I started a weekly blog seven years ago and later a YouTube channel as a way to document my experiences and share all the writing advice I’d come across (and yes, to build a platform. Let’s be transparent here!).
I consume A LOT of writing-related content, which means I’m able to recommend other resources to my coaching clients and to reference them myself when needed!
I’ve seeped myself in this community for years, and while I don’t know everything, I know a lot.
My dedication to writing is the reason all of these things have happened.
2 / Discipline
I make time for writing and when I show up, I work with little distraction, not even my inner critic can stop me.
My inner critic may say things like, ‘This is a waste of time. You’re ruining your life. This sucks. You suck. This is boring.’
I acknowledges these comments, often by writing them down, and I think, ‘okay this may suck. This could be boring, but I’m going to keep writing anyway.’ And then I do.
Part of the reason I am so disciplined with writing is two-fold.
One, I’ve worked a lot of soul crushing job and I really want to make this current trajectory to work.
Two, I know the following statement to be all too true: ‘Resisting writing is harder than writing.’ Even on bad days, even on shit days, writing is always better than not writing (even if only for five minutes).
3 / Application of Feedback
I’m great at receiving feedback from betareaders and editors, but I didn’t realise this was a strength until my mentor pointed it out!
They said so many people will accept punctuation suggestions but then reject all the critical advice surrounding plot, structure, characterisation, and so on.
I am always open to feedback and while I’m aware that makes these changes will be work, I know they will lead to a better book/short story/article.
I don’t take the criticism personally because I work with smart and kind people who I trust so I know their feedback is coming from a good, informed place, and it’s often great fun to brainstorm potential solutions.
It’s so easy to only focus on our weakness as a writer, and this makes sense because awareness is the first step to improving that aspect of our craft, but it’s also important that we celebrate and acknowledge what we’re actually good at too.
Know I’d love to hear from you. In the comments below, please share 1-3 of your writing superpowers. Remember, these can be related to mindset, behaviour, habits, or craft.
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