Welcome to another post where I process things through writing and post it because if I didn’t post it, I’d never write it! (Does anyone else use their blog like this or am I just broken? 😅) This time, what I am attempting to process are my writing weaknesses. After coming off a year where writing was my last priority and pretty much didn’t happen; receiving only rejections in an albeit very small pool my first time back into the query trenches; and questioning how I fit into my MFA program and what it’s trying to teach me…well, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my writing weaknesses lately.
This post is meant to help me outline them, see if I truly believe they are weaknesses or not (!!) and come up with a game plan of how to address them, if they are. So let’s get to it!
For those who are unaware, I’m currently working towards my MFA (Masters in Fine Arts in Fiction Writing), although as a less-than-part-time student, as I’m pursuing it thanks to the tuition assistance program where I work. Granted, I have Complicated Feelings™ about this program, but that’s a post for another day. o, the first two weaknesses listed below have come as feedback my faculty mentor from my MFA program.
The second two weaknesses listed below are ones I’ve identified and personally know I struggle with. If you’re a writer and have any feedback on any of these areas–suggestions, tips or tricks, or just plain commiseration–I welcome it!
Research and Setting
Feedback: my setting suffers because I am unable to pinpoint the exact period of time that influences the story
This is part of the feedback I received from my thesis mentor, who is an award winning writer of SFF publications, in both the short story and novel realms. It’s the feedback I’m struggling with the most. One of the main reasons I write fantasy is because I love to encourage my imagination. I love to make shit up. Now, I won’t hesitate to go onto a research dive when I run into specifics I’m not familiar with (like, I don’t know how to properly stab someone and kill them, so my search history is terrifying at best and concerning at its worse). But, when I’m writing secondary world fantasy, I don’t traditionally go and research a specific time period–15th century Naples, for example–to use as my setting.
So, where I’m struggling this is:
- Am I doing this wrong? Should I be researching for a comp time period, even for a secondary fantasy in a completely made up world?
- Will I lose freedom if I do this? I love the freedom of crafting the world the way I want it and not being bound by facts (as a historical fantasy writer might be). If I start to do in-depth research for each new project, will I start to become bound by the conventions of history? Or will my stories actually become stronger because of it?
- Time management: HOW DO YOU FIT IN IN-DEPTH RESEARCH AND PUTTING DOWN WORDS WHEN YOU HAVE NO TIME TO BEGIN WITH!? Help.
I would seriously love insight from others on their thoughts about this!! It’s been about a month since I’ve received this feedback and I just feel stuck and a bit lost, to be honest.
Feedback: I do not give myself enough time to rewrite my work
This is one I’m not quite sure I believe, for my professor has only ever read my short stories. They’ve never read a novel length work from me, nor read any revisions of a novel I’ve worked on. And I won’t lie: my short stories I’ve turned in, for both college and now in graduate school, are not my strong suit, so I know they’ve only seen my worst work.
Plus, considering I’ve had other graduate students read beginnings of a novel that I think rewrote and were floored with the amount of rewriting and work I did, also makes me question this.
Still, I wouldn’t hesitate to hear others experience with their own rewriting journeys. How often to do rewrite novel length works (or edit)? What are your processes?
Reflection: I lack confidence in my writing, inspired by my anxiety, perfectionist tendencies and dreams of publication.
Onto areas I know for a fact are writing weaknesses for me! Confidence. Oh boy, is this a weakness in all areas of my life, honestly. But writing especially. I love writing. It makes me feel the most whole, the most alive and the happiest. Yet, years of rejection have taken their toll and chipped away at the confidence I was had (yet, part of that was also growth and becoming a better writer, learning to recognize weakness and wanting to improve). The dream to publish and realizing how hard it is to do so has also influenced my love for writing.
Also, it’s just downright cruel to make a writer also have anxiety and be a perfectionist who just wants to do it “right,” yet there is no definition for right. Ugh.
So, fellow writers: how do you inspire confidence in yourself?
Reflection: I don’t make writing a priority.
This is just plan and simple: I don’t. I have plenty of excuses for it, many of which are valid: working two jobs, being in grad school while doing so, having other hobbies, a partner and a pet to care for, mental and chronic illnesses–not least of which is the lack of confidence described above.
How does one balance it all and still fit writing in (especially if I have been doing myself and my stories a disservice by not learning more history to support them)?
So, this post turned into kinda a plea for help. 😅 I would really, really love other writers input. Do you struggle with similar things? Have you conquered these beasts? Do you have any advice? Inquiries minds would love to know!
All in all, though: I am nowhere near where I want to be as a writer and I have plenty of writing weaknesses. Hopefully, I can improve in some (if not all) of these areas this year. My goal isn’t to become the perfect writer (those don’t exist). I do want to grow creatively: write more, believe in myself and value myself a writer.
Yeah, I’d like all of that, actually. 🖤