It’s common in job interviews to be asked to share your strengths and weaknesses, and it’s an answer you always want have to have in your back pocket. While we writers aren’t often asked this question by agents, publishers or readers, it’s still a handy bit of information to key in on – if only to develop yourself and your writing.
Identifying Your Strengths and Weaknesses
1. Ask yourself some questions.
The best way to learn about yourself – especially when it comes to truths that may not feel very good – is to spend some time in self-reflection. That can take the form of meditation, journaling or simply asking yourself a few questions that may reveal answers:
- What do I enjoy most when writing?
- Which writing tasks seem to drain my energy?
- What tasks do you do that make you feel most engaged and energized?
- What do you do differently than everyone else that make you stand out?
- At what point do I find myself procrastinating or putting off writing?
- What do people always seem to ask you to help them with?
- What have others had to help me with on more than one occasion?
If you notice, most of the questions are in the same vein: what we enjoy writing and what we hate writing. There’s a clear correlation. We all know that we tend to like doing what we are good at and hate what we suck at. The same applies to writing!
A few of my writing strengths:
- Setting and atmosphere
- Grammar and line editing
- Tension between characters
- Kissing scenes
2. Listen to your beta readers and critique partners.
I am sure I sound like a broken record by now, but getting feedback on your work is SO SO IMPORTANT! It would be almost impossible for me to continue in my writing journey without people who can take a look at my work and see things that I can’t/don’t want see. As you get more and more beta readers and CPs (or even agents!), you’ll likely notice a few trends in their feedback. Tally how many people point out the same thing, and take those pieces to heart.
Be sure to remember to do this for the compliments given as well as the criticism. Both are equally important for your writing and your psyche.
A few of my writing weaknesses:
- Weaving in backstory without infodumps
- Balancing main plot and subplots (especially romantic ones)
- Action/fight scenes
3. Take a few personality tests!
It may seem strange to look for writing strengths and weaknesses in a test that describes your personality, but it’s done in the workplace all the time. And what is writing, if not really hard work? It takes a little creativity to apply these traits to your writing, but it can be done.
For example, my Myers-Briggs type is INFJ or “The Advocate.” Now if I look at my list of strengths, I see that I am insightful which could help with identifying my character’s goals and desires and connect those to plot events. I also have a vivid imagination, leading to strong atmosphere and unique magic systems. On the weakness side of things though, I can burn out easily. Oh and there’s that perfectionism thing again…
So now that you have the tools to identify them, I want to hear about YOUR strengths and weaknesses? Share in the comments below, and next week we’ll be talking about how to develop those strengths and improve your weaknesses.