I saw this first over at Charlotte’s, and have enjoyed reading her answers and answers from all the other participants. I’ve felt ambivalently about calling myself a writer, but I do write, so that’s really the end of that question, isn’t it?
1. I write clearly. To the extent that I have a natural voice — which if I do I don’t have a strong sense of it — I think it’s a clear and simple one. I would have to work hard to be complex and difficult. I think that comes through on my blog, but also in my academic writing. I was never one for densely theoretical, jargon-laden prose. I suspect my teachers appreciated this.
2. I love to revise and I do it well. This isn’t the case with blog writing where I don’t revise at all (I’ll edit, but not revise), but certainly is for the academic writing I do. I remember getting praise from my professors for being one of the few people willing to revise a paper in a serious way, so much so, at times, that I’d end up arguing the opposite of what I originally thought. When I get readers’ reports back from journals asking for revisions, I cringe at first, and then dive in, and I end up enjoying myself. I love seeing how a piece can take on a new form and end up much better than what I started with.
3. I want to keep learning about writing. I teach writing, but I by no means think I’ve figured it all out. I like reading books that talk about how words and sentences and paragraphs are put together (as in, for example, Francine Prose’s book Reading Like a Writer, even though that particular book was unsatisfying). I like noticing how great writers work their magic with words. I like finding new ways to explain things to students.
4. I know my limitations and don’t let them bother me. I’m completely uninterested in writing fiction or poetry, and I accept that about myself. Instead of beating myself up for not being able to write the things other people can write, I enjoy what it is I can do. I’m so glad I discovered blogging because it’s a form that has me writing regularly and that I’ve come to love. Any writing I’m going to do will be of the nonfiction essayistic sort, which, as that’s a sort of writing I love to read, I’m fine with.
5. I am very good at slow, steady production. In other words, I’m good at the writing process — I don’t write fast, but I can be steady and methodical and can get things done. This is how I wrote my dissertation while doing tons of teaching and full-time administrative work. I wrote a little bit each day and eventually all the little bits added up and I was finished. This has taught me that I don’t need to be afraid of big projects; if I want to take one on, I have the persistence and endurance to finish it. I think you can see this trait of mine in my blogging — the daily 500-700 word posts suit me just fine. I’m nothing if not steady and reliable.
You might note that I’ve said little about my writing itself; it’s hard for me characterize it, and so I’ve focused on the way I go about writing. But it seems to me that how we go about doing something is sometimes just as important as what it is we produce.
9 responses to “The Five Writing Strengths Meme”
Thanks for sharing this, Dorothy. As a regular reader of your blog, I’d add to this list that one of the strengths of your writing on this blog is that it is entertaining and interesting.
What a wonderful post, dorothy — I love your blog and the way you write, it always makes me happy. So thanks for your insightful words and thoughtful prose…:)
I think these are excellent answers, Dorothy. You do write beautifully lucid prose and that is always a pleasure to read. And being good at revision is a fine skill – immensely useful!
I like your blog so much that I just added it to my b-roll. Many bloggers do revise, especially when they are offering reference quality material. I’m a former music journalist. I’m think of returning after more than a decade. Since my clips are ancient, I need to show something. My blog clips are a start.
I enjoyed your answers! Would you say you enjoy the process–the journey–more than the product? It sounds like it, and in this we are very much alike. The downside of liking process so much is that I never seem to finish anything!
I enjoyed this post so much! I know what you mean about being slow and steady – that’s how I am, too. I mean, I’ve been working on my novel for some time now and even though it’s no where near complete, a little more is added each week, and it gets a little better (to me), and I’m okay with that. I love revision as well, after the initial shock. I really do need to do this meme…
I greatly enjoy reading your posts–especially when you talk about books you’ve finished reading. You are so articulate in your discussion of books–even if I haven’t read it, I feel like I have a good sense of what it was about. Do you find it hard to teach others how to write?
I’d also say you’re a very purposeful writer (which is really, probably, something that goes hand-in-hand with your #5). You know what you want to say; you say it; and you say it so eloquently. I envy that, since I’m the sort who starts out to say something and am never really quite sure if what I end up with is what I started out to say.
Thank you Cam! And I’m on my way over your blog to catch up on your latest posts …
Hepzibah — well, if my writing makes anybody happy, then it’s well worth it!
Thank you Litlove! Your comment is so encouraging!
Hi Abby, thank you! I think if I wrote fewer posts and longer ones I might revise; I can see why some bloggers would do so. With my daily posting schedule, it just doesn’t work though!
Stefanie — yes, I think I do enjoy the process more than the product. I mean, it’s fun to read over a finished piece and feel pleased with it, most definitely, but I find more joy in the actual writing.
Courtney — I’m looking forward to reading your answers. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the stack of pages slowly grow (or the page count or word count, or whatever).
Danielle — thank you! I do find it hard to teaching writing, because students like having rules to follow, but I don’t really believe in rules. It’s hard, too, because I’m supposed to help them learn how to write papers for other courses, but I’m also supposed to teach them how to be good writers, whatever they are writing, and that’s a lot to accomplish.
Emily — I like the sound of that — I do tend to be purposeful and efficient, don’t I? I really, really like reading writers who wander about, though; I admire your looser style.