As writers, we all have strengths and weaknesses. One person’s forte may be another person’s nemesis. It’s wise to know where we excel as writers and what trips us up.
For myself, I’m good at editing for length and ensuring a piece flows, something I do every day at work. I’m good at spotting needless words and pride myself in dialogue.
Conversely, though I know the basics well, I’m still learning the intricacies of punctuation, am abysmal at spelling (which makes my love of crossword puzzles confounding), and struggle mightily with grammar.
As I relish my strengths, I strive to shore up my weaknesses. While I never expect to master grammar or win a spelling bee, I can do things to improve.
To aid in my understanding of grammar, I follow the Grammar Girl; for spelling, I maintain a list of words that often trip me up. I also keep my shortcomings in mind when I give feedback to other writers, either not talking about what I’m not sure of or prefacing my comments with a disclaimer.
Not only should we assess our own abilities, but we should also be aware of the capabilities of those in our writing circles. After all, we are wise to esteem syntax advice from a grammar expert but foolish to consider period placement from a punctuation novice.
We need to not only evaluate the comments of our critique partners but also factor in their mastery of that area.
This is one more step to writing well.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.