Category Archives: imperfection

Writer’s Paralysis

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Maybe you’ve been here. It’s more than just writer’s block. Maybe it started after the loss of a loved one. Maybe you were diagnosed with cancer. Maybe your child has pulled away from you to the point that you’re not sure they’ll ever come back. Usually, it takes something life-changing. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Maybe all this horrible news is depleting you. Maybe you’ve received too many rejections. Maybe you’ve just given up hope for anyone ever noticing your talent. Or, maybe you’re lost.

It’s okay. Now, reread what I just said. It. Is. Okay.

This is where you are. Here. Today. Now. You are going to stand up. You are going to put one foot out in front of you. (No, we’re not doing the Hokey Pokey.) You are going to begin to move. And you will keep moving forward.

Yes, the world will continue to swirl in all of its ugly and dangerous and beautiful and incomprehensible glory. Babies will be born and people will die. Wars will be fought and diseases will be cured. The hungry will eat and the rich will pay. You are here. Right now. In the middle of it all. Be in the world, but also above it. Take note of what you see and help where you can, but don’t become the pain. Rise out of it. You only have control over yourself. Others may hurt you. Others may love you. They may be selfish. They may save you. There will be days when you’re the luckiest person on earth. There will be days when nothing means anything, anyway. But you will be okay. And, when you are ready, you will write again.

Now, repeat after me: When I am ready, I will write again.

Now, go. Live.

Know Your Strengths

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As a college writing instructor, I’d be asked the same question at every interview: What is your greatest weakness? (Clue: The answer, for me, is always perfectionism.) Although I don’t understand the interviewers’ fixation on flaws, I fully acknowledge the importance of being acquainted with your inner demons. Whereas employers are obviously seeking ways to weed out all candidates who either cannot or will not reflect upon their own shortcomings, as a writer (and arguably as a human being) it seems more important to build upon your unique set of strengths, rather than constantly battling your inherent imperfections.

On the first day of class, my students complete a few activities that help illuminate their individual strengths for them. Many of them had never heard of Howard Gardner or Multiple Intelligences. This is a shame because, when you know how you learn, you will learn better.

As a teacher, I read Teach With Your Strengths by Rosanne Liesveld and Jo Ann Miller, which is a great option for non-teachers, as well. Stengths Finder 2.0 is from the same publishers and, though I haven’t read it personally, I’m sure it would be equally beneficial.

There is also obvious value in learning about your unique personality type. Over at 16personalities.com, you can take the Myers-Briggs Personality Type (based on Jung’s theory) that will tell you the 4-letter combination that defines your identity. To be honest, it’s downright uncanny how accurate the results are!

A bonus: learning about ALL of the different kinds of personalities can help you write depth into your characters. K.M. Weiland discusses this in her article, “Myers-Briggs and Writing: My Characters’ Personalities.” Over here, she points out that INTJ’s are archetypal evil geniuses, but Batman is also an INTJ. So, it’s important to know your characters on more than just a superficial level.

It’s also important to know your own personality–to not only know but also to trust thyself, as Emerson said. Don’t focus on your weaknesses. Know your strengths, and exploit the hell out of them!