I think we’d all love to say we’re good at everything we do, especially when it comes to writing. The problem is, you’re not good at everything. As a writer, though, it can be difficult to figure out exactly which areas you can improve on, and how to do that. Here are a few things you can watch out for in your own writing.
What part of the writing process makes you procrastinate?
Psychologically, we procrastinate most often because we’re avoiding something we’re not looking forward to. For me, it’s research. If I have to write 10 listicles on topics I’m less familiar with, I know it’s going to take two hours to write one article instead of one – and that makes me put it off. I’m not good at that kind of research, and I don’t enjoy it enough to practice on my own. It’s a weakness. I’m not proud of it, but I’m willing to admit it’s a problem.
What about you? Do you worry about coming up with names for characters? Do you find it hard to create realistic conflict? Do you just struggle with writing things the way they sound in your head? All these things can silently persuade you to put writing off until the last possible second. That’s one way to know what you can improve on as a writer.
What do other writers do that you wish you could do, too?
I’m getting better, but I’m not nearly as good at crafting metaphors as many of my favorite writers are. Technically, even though I started out writing fiction, I’m much more practiced on the more technical, straightforward things. Reading John Green novels is both a joy and a pain for me – his prose is just so good. It would bother me that I can’t write like that, but it’s more of a motivator for me to work on my own style and adding a little color and flavor to my fiction.
This isn’t about copying someone else … it’s more about technique. In some ways, comparing yourself to other writers can be helpful, as long as you use it for inspiration and not to tear yourself down. When you read something, and your first thought is, “Wow, I wish I could write something like that,” you can use that to spend some of your writing time focusing on that particular area.
What do you rush through – or what takes you the longest?
This can go two ways. Either you rush through a part of the writing process just to get it over with, or you end up spending way more time on it than you feel you should. This can be another sign you need to work on a certain technique or skill. Editing is a good example of this. Either you skim through your drafts to catch any errors or you have to plan out extra time to go through sentence by sentence – and either one isn’t good use of your writing time.
A simple fix for this is to either force yourself to spend more time on something or train yourself to do it more quickly. There are only so many hours in a day, and it’s a combination of quality writing/editing and better time management that helps you make the best use of the few hours you may have.
What are you “not good” at in your writing? Is this something you want to improve on? How do you think you can get better?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.