Time Again For Your Penmonkey Evaluations

I think it’s good to evaluate yourself as a writer sometimes, just to see who you are and how you’re doing — where do you stand and where are you headed? If you’re planning on doing this thing really-for-realsies, sometimes a look at your paths and processes is worth doing.

So, a handful of quick questions. A survey, but informal — no data collection, here.

Answer in comments, if you’re so inclined. If you want to also post at your blog to generate discussion there, hey, go for it. (But please still try to leave your answers here, as well.)

a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?

b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

124 comments

  • a) Greatest writing strength: The power of my words and my ability to convey precise meaning with my words.
    b) Greatest weakness? I belong to Shifters Anonymous. I never finish much of anything because with longer works, I change my paradigm before I’m finished, then I feel that everything that has come before is null and void, and I feel there’s too much to say to cram it into a short story.
    c) What have I finished? Well, I’m a freelance writer, so I’ve finished a lot. It was in ghost writing a 10,000 word fiction piece to be published under someone else’s name that I realized that I needed to be writing fiction for myself instead of someone else. I have published one short story online, and it must be at least halfway decent because I keep getting royalties from it.
    d) Best writing advice I’ve ever been given? Write every day no matter what. Best writing advice that I’ve ever followed? Consider your audience, but write for yourself without worrying about the approval of others.
    e) Worst advice? Not sure it was “advice” per se, but someone once said to me when I gave them a number of my short stories to read, “Why do all women have these kinds of fantasies?” I took that to mean that my work was trite and overused. That paralyzed me for a long time. I got over it when I received the advice in (d) above.
    f) Advice to someone else? Never think your stuff is so great that you don’t need an editor, but find an editor who will work with your vision.

  • Sorry I’m late. Here goes…

    Q. What’s your greatest strength/skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    A. The stories I make up and the characters (imaginary friends?) who act them out. They don’t just challenge literary or social traditions. They blow them out of the water! That’s also why I started writing in the first place, to make people think instead of overdosing them on complacency.

    Q. What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    A. Self-discipline. I know what I want to say. I know how I want to say it. I just can’t seem to get it said. Every day I do that ass-in-chair thing and ponder the inevitable: Will self-discipline quash my creativity? How much self-discipline is too much? What’s happening on Facebook, Twitter, and Usenet? Mind, you, this is on a productive day!

    Q. How many books or other projects have you finished? What did you do with them?
    A. I’ve finished a number short stories, mostly for creative writing classes. They turned out too literary in terms of genre and character development, so I filed them in “The Archives.” That’s also why I abandon novels after writing the first few chapters. Literary fiction — what I “learned” as non-traditional English major — bores the hell out of me.

    Q. Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e., really helped you)
    A. “Just write it. Worry about revising it later.” – Anonymous Creative Writing Professor (2012).

    Q. Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e., didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    A. “Write what you know.” I’ve always found that ridiculously limiting to the point of suppressing creativity.

    Q. One piece of advice you’d give to other writers?
    A. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Just WRITE, dammit!

    (Back to more STUFF right after these messages! Whoops! Sorry, wrong Chuck!)

  • Late on this one, but I also posted it over at my own blog:
    http://bareknucklewriter.com/2014/03/10/monday-challenge-this-goes-on-your-permanent-record/

    a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?*

    Breaking your heart. Making you feel for those characters and the godawful situations they get themselves in.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

    Conflict resolutions. I can get people into bad situations, but getting them out? Ehhhhh.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

    Finished four novels. One was a learning project which will never see the light of day; two have been edited and are being submitted; the last is currently being rewritten from the ground up.
    Short stories? I dunno, maybe a dozen. All have been submitted, five sold.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

    “[S]topping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.**” -Stephen King

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

    Most of the advice I’ve been given hasn’t been overtly bad, just not for me. The only two that really stick out as bad bad are less advice and more opinion: 1) “You must write in complete silence” from some article I read a million years ago. I love music and can’t imagine writing without it. It gets me through the aforementioned hard parts. And 2) “You should try writing something serious” from someone who didn’t approve of my love for genre fiction. I think my response was to laugh, but it was a long time ago and I can’t be sure. Again in the words of King, when it comes to memory we all stack the deck.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

    Be brave. The world is full of shit that will stop you: naysayers, doubters, your own fear and apathy. It’s up to you to put on your stomping boots, dig in your heels, and fight back.
    Oh, and write. Don’t forget to do that part.

    *Man, it was hard to do this one without feeling like an arrogant douchecanoe.
    **Though I usually do my shovelling from a standing position on account on my giant drafting table/standing desk.

  • a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?
    I think my characters come across as believable, and I’m pretty good at dialogue. This is based on comments I’ve had from others as well as my own opinion, which is pretty hard to give on a question like this without sounding like a giant a**.

    b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
    Plot, plot, plot. I have a deeply ingrained aversion to detailed outlines, and sometimes that just makes plotting akin to trying to put an octopus in a bottle.* But you do what you gotta do.

    c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
    Three novels totally complete; one published, one in submission, one about to be self-pubbed. Under contract for another one. Numerous others in various stages. Short stories, I’ve sold maybe two out of every three I’ve written. I think I’m doing pretty well at finishing and submitting.

    d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
    Write to the end, then go back and fix what needs to be fixed. Finishing that first draft is just so unbelievably key to everything else.

    e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
    That there’s really no market for what I write (fantasy and science fiction). That was from a grant officer. He’s already been proven wrong, but it was disheartening at the time.

    f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
    Don’t rush to publish or self-publish. Your work is worth the time and effort it takes to learn your craft and get it right before you let anyone else see it. And don’t take a bad contract just because it’s offered. Your work is also worth finding the right home for it.

    *Not that I’ve ever done this. But the writer’s imagination…

  • A. Dialogue, original storylines and characters.
    B. Sometimes I lack in consistency, clarity and logic.
    C. I have a closet full of novellas I plan to self publish, but now that I am learning how to self edit, I plan to polish them and get on with it.
    D. Best advice was keep writing, follow your intuition, and that everything would fix itself in editing.
    E. I–. Worst advice ever was to rewrite your manuscript until it is no longer recognizable as your original vision. Oh. And it began bothering me more after facing harsh critique that ended up being suggestions that would actually alter my story, voice and/or vision. I usually pump out 40k a month. This stopped me dead for three. I’m writing the proverbial piss trickle now. (Love your blogs, have a couple of your writing manuals too!)
    F. Listen to this guy. Not only does he know what he’s talking about, he has written bad ass, best selling fiction of his own. Stock up on writing and rewriting books, find a good critique group, but most importantly, WRITE!

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