Monday, October 29, 2007

Jack of all trades, master of none?

There was an interesting blog post over at Romancing the Blog on the weekend. The general gist of it was, do you work on your strengths or your weaknesses?

This reminded me of something I read long ago, and not in a writing book. It was a business book called IF IT AIN'T BROKE...BREAK IT! AND OTHER UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM FOR A CHANGING BUSINESS WORLD by Robert J. Kriegel and Louis Patler.

"Plugging the holes in your game causes you to spend too much time on what doesn't work. Though you may go from poor to fair, you rarely excel at that which is not your strong suit. Then, because you are spending so much time focusing on your weak points, you don't have time to hone the skills you are good at. The result is that you never excel at anything."

Does this mean I don't work on my weaker areas of writing? No. I do. However, I don't think this needs to be an either/or proposition. You can work on weak areas while continuing to hone your strengths -- just don't work so hard on your weaknesses you neglect your strengths.

How do you know what you do well as a writer? By writing. What you enjoy writing is probably what you do best. Then submit to editors or contests. Pay heed to consistent comments about areas that need improvement. Obviously, these are your weaknesses. If you get compliments on other elements, or no comments at all, those are your strengths.

(If you're wondering why I don't have any pictures in the recent blogs, I'm not in my office. I'm upstairs, in the Red Room o' Doom, using my daughter's laptop, because I've got a couple of guys painting and papering the basement stairs and hallway, so it's an obstacle course to get to my office.)


Kimber Chin said...

Ahh... a business book reference.
That's the business way,
work on the strengths and outsource or bring up to "good enough" level the weaknesses.

Christine d'Abo said...

This is advice someone shared with me in my day job a while ago, and something I try to work on. It's amazing how much of an impact it really does have.

I think it's a bit harder to do with writing, simply because it's difficult to pick out what you're good at. At least, I find it hard for myself.