Friday, December 5, 2014

Focusing on the Negative

For my first writing post on this blog, I wanted to have a discussion/advice post. I do realize that writing advice is quite subjective. It has always amazed me how differently people write, and how a strategy can be fool-proof for one person and impossible for another. But I feel like, at least for me, it can be incredibly easy to get stuck in a phase of writing the same things over and over - the same plot, characters, genre, etc.

After a long - I would say years long - phase of mine where I continuously wrote cliched romances with fairly flat characters, I created a rule for myself - when beginning a new project, I focus on the negative.

It sounds like backward advice, and it probably won't work for anyone. But for me, it does work. What I'm suggesting is to take one thing - or several things - you're absolutely awful at, and make them essential to your story. You can't write fight scenes to save your life? Write in at least five. Awful at world-building? Write fantasy.

Personally, I'm always finding new weaknesses in my writing. But I'm also always seeing improvement, so long as I don't shy away from everything I am bad at. When I neglect this rule, I typically look back and find that my writing quality has stayed the same. Even a single short story in which you force yourself to write something you aren't great at can improve your writing a TON.

As a disclaimer, I'm not saying to get stuck in that trap where you can only see the negative aspects of your writing. That's all too easy to do, and focusing on the positive side is just as important. Think about what you're good at, but don't stick to comfort zones. Branch out and be as diverse as possible. 

You probably won't thank yourself while writing, especially at first - but the improvement in your writing will be worth it in the end!

If you've read to the end here, feel free to let me know what you're greatest weakness and strengths are in your writing. My strong point is dialogue, but I'm still trying to improve my descriptions!


  1. Wow! I realized that unintentionally, I do that all the time and not just in writing! I'm horrible at push-ups, so lately I've been trying to do more of that instead of the usual exercises that I already know and am good at. I'm also horrible at drawing faces and people, so guess what I'm doing? Drawing faces

    Also, something I realized that helps me write is if I have a picture or photo in front of me. So, here is something I do. I draw a picture (and it usually involves faces, so that's a plus!) and then I write looking at it and that actually helps me a lot! :)

    Great Post! Love it! <3
    A Recent Blog Post: Does the Guilt Crush You? @ My Little Corner For Books (Involves hiccuping chihuahuas, awesomeness/weirdness depending on how you look at it and guilty confessions about DNF-ing books! XD)

    1. That's great to hear! I think it definitely could apply to many things, and it's definitely helped me grow better at writing so far.

      I've tried writing while looking at pictures, but it doesn't work for me. Very happy it's helped you, though :)

  2. That's actually a really good piece of advice. I know I suck at descriptions myself. So once I've finished the first draft to the story I'm writing, I'll be focussing on adding descriptions of places, people, and other things during my first bout of editing :)

  3. Wow, that is a really great idea! Forces you out of your comfort zone and you can improve as a writer. :)

  4. I need to take this advice. I'm the worst with improving. If I realise I'm not good at something, I will go to great lengths to avoid it. It's the easy way out, I suppose, and I'm trying to work on it, I swear!

    1. It definitely helps to face it directly. I did so with my descriptions and they've become much better, and I did it with my story length (I never branched out or expanded my ideas enough to have a novel-length work) and wrote my first novel during last month's NaNoWriMo.

      Good luck improving - it's hard work, but it's better if you break it down and focus on one thing you're bad at in your current work. Or, at least, that's the way I do it. Too much at once and I get overwhelmed, haha.