Penmonkey Evaluation

So, I follow Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog (awesome stuff, you should sign up for it… really. Go and do it NOW!). On Monday, he posted an evaluation for all his fellow “penmonkeys.” I thought I take a stab at it and post the results. All you other writers out there, let me know in the comments how YOUR evaluations went.

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

I would have to say the aspect I TRY hardest to perfect is my characterizations. When someone reads my work, I want them to walk away feeling like they just interacted with real, flesh and blood people.

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

Hmmm… well, I’m certainly not a writing genius. I’m not even sure I could be called a “good writer,” so there are lots of weaknesses I struggle with, but my biggest one is probably world-building/setting description. I sometimes tend to be sparse with that (one reader even said I had put him into a “white room”).

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

I have finished 3 novels. One I am currently editing and trying to get ready for distribution by the end of the year. The other two are sitting in their digital shelves, waiting for my wandering attention to swing back to them.

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

Get the first draft out as fast as you can. Don’t edit, don’t correct, don’t reread. Just write it out and let it stink.

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

I don’t know if there is any one piece of advice someone gave me that I could name. However, I would say that, for me, investing in writing manuals and how-tos probably did more harm than good. They tend to make you overthink your writing and get hung up on details. For me, that just makes me stall out. I get writing constipation.

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

I don’t know whether I’m qualified to give ANYONE advice, but I guess one thing I have found to be true is that if you are really a writer, a bone-deep, gotta do it writer, then you have got to get out of your shell and start sharing your work with people. There is a compulsion there to get our work into readers’ hands, yes, but I also think it’s just the responsible thing to do. We were given an ability for a reason and if we don’t share it, what’s the point? Money and fame are all very well, but even if you never make a dime on your writing, if you use it to brighten people’s lives or make them think in new ways, then you have used your gift to great profit.


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