Monday, October 4, 2010

A Writer's Strengths

Here I am, still in Buffalo, NY, and it’s raining. Again. I’ve been here almost two full weeks and have seen the sun only four times. I’d forgotten what the rainy season is like here, how leaden the skies can be, how bone-chillingly cold and damp the air. What a turnaround from the first three days of high temperatures and humidity. So far, Buffalo has presented three of its four major weather conditions to remind me why I left, snow being the only holdout.
All this rain has made me wonder about those writing abilities that we’ve either forgotten about or become so inured to that we no longer see them. I believe that once we “forget” (ie, start to take for granted) anything about our writing, we begin to lose touch with our inner essence, that raw voice inside that lends our writing the aura of freshness and authority it needs to rise above all the rest. It’s that part of us — the spirit of who we are as human beings — that keeps readers clamoring for more of what we do best: storytelling.
What is your major strength as a writer? Perhaps it’s the ability to create compelling characters; to devise devilishly twisted plots; to spread open and explain the motivations and desires of humanity; to create vivid, entrancing settings that become characters themselves; to manipulate language in ways that tug at heartstrings or change obstinate minds; to craft witty, dynamic dialogue that captivates readers. If you’re not sure what yours is, think about this: Our greatest strength usually is what comes naturally to us. We do it without thinking, while other aspects of our writing take work and angst to pull off successfully.
The danger is we often don’t value what we do easily, that which comes naturally. It’s just something we do, and so we shrug it off and turn our attention to those aspects of our writing we have to work at. We take classes, go to conferences, join critique groups. We experiment with different writing styles and techniques, seek out the latest trends, chase the elusive dream of publication. And in the learning and critiquing and experimenting, we often work against our greatest writing strength because we have forgotten what it is. In doing so, we lose the essence of who we are as a writer. We dilute our voice.
I urge you now to journey inward to find your strength. Pull it out of you and set it in plain sight, where it can remind you of who you are, where it can inform and infuse every piece of writing you do. Let it become the platform from which you declare to the world, “Here I am. This is me, and I am worth listening to.” Don’t lose your greatest strength to the mists of forgetfulness, like I lost the memory of the gloom and rain that covers my hometown at certain times of the year. To write from the heart, from your core essence, you must know who you are, believe in what you have to say, and trust your voice. 
That voice is mirrored in your greatest strength. Celebrate the view.
Post Total: 530 words
Week 2 Running Total: 530 words

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