Playing to your writing strengths is DUMB

Playing to your writing strengths and weaknesses is a great thing. Have a think about it now. What do you do well? What do you suck at? I think I know mine pretty well:

THINGS I SUCK AT:

WORLD BUILDING! Oh my, do I suck at this stuff. It’s why I write mostly Contemporary. Though there is one Adult Sci-Fi in my Writer’s Purgatory which is probably buried there for this very reason: world building bores me to tears. I love reading it, hate writing it. You fantasy writers are amazing, honestly. My first drafts stick to the characters, the actions, the dialogue. Sometimes it’s like I’ve written a scene in a void and I have to go back and fill in the setting later. Don’t know why. It is something I struggle with. Something I need to be better at.

Keeping complex plots clear. I love me a good twist. I love duplicitous characters. I love surprises. Making them clear and believable to the reader? Meh. That’s over rated (SPOILER: that’s a lie). I think my struggle comes from having these guys so fleshed out in my own head that their motives are completely obvious to me. And they would be – they’re my imaginary friends. But sometimes, I don’t give the reader enough hints. So I realise this is a weak spot for me.

So what can I do?
Stick to contemporary settings with simple plots? HELL TO THE NO!! To become a better writer, I need to know my weaknesses and… wait for it…. WORK ON THEM. Sounds easy. It totally isn’t. It’s challenging.

Here’s the plan:
I’m not great with the world building. I’m not great with the complex plots. For this year’s Nanowrimo, I’m going to write a complexly plotted thriller that requires a butt load of world building. Yeahh………………. for realsies.

I figure in order to become a more well-rounded writist, I should approach my writing like any other skill I want to get better at. Like when I’m skating, and I have trouble… er… stopping, and stuff… I work on that. It’s good practice so I don’t fall and die. So I’m going to work on my weaknesses.

The downside is my first draft will probably suck even more than usual. But hopefully I’ll be a stronger writer at the end of it. Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two. Maybe in the future, I won’t shy away from Big Ideas because I don’t think I have the right skillset. I’ll keep at it until I’m good enough.

skating featured-1-2

And because that was a Debbie-Downer of a post, here are some positives about my writing:

THINGS I DON’T SUCK AT:
Characters. That’s probably my favourite part of any story, and I love writing complex characters.

Dialogue. As a reader, I’m hyper sensitive to crappy dialogue. So I try my best to nail my character’s voice and keep the dialogue realistic.

Writing concisely, but authentically… Maybe. I try to write clean and tight. It’s damn good practice. But it’s a balancing act; you strip too much away, and you lose your voice. You take yourself out of the whole thing and you’re left with nothing but bones. I think I’m getting a better grasp of that lovely middle ground. I think. I hope?

So yeah. Nanowrimo shall be double the fun this year. I’m aiming for 65k instead of 50k. I’m writing waaaay out of my comfort zone. But I’m excited. Maybe I’ll surprise myself. But if not? Well. It’s a step in the right direction.

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