In a bit of shameless thievery, I’m taking today’s challenge directly from the pages of Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig’s blog. If you’re not reading it, you really should. There’s a lot of solid advice in there, between the swearing.
Last week, he posted the Penmonkey Evaluation, a series of questions writers can answer to get a feel for where they are and maybe where they’re going. I’ve answered below as well as in the comments on the original post. After you’ve done your own evaluation, post it in the comments here/on the original. And read through the comment stream on the original. It’s always interesting to see where other people are in this business.
So, Monday Challenge: Go here (or check the questions below) and answer the quiz. Be honest; there’s no benefit to lying.
a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?*
Breaking your heart. Making you feel for those characters and the godawful situations they get themselves in.
b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?
Conflict resolutions. I can get people into bad situations, but getting them out? Ehhhhh.
c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?
Finished four novels. One was a learning project which will never see the light of day; two have been edited and are being submitted; the last is currently being rewritten from the ground up.
Short stories? I dunno, maybe a dozen. All have been submitted, five sold.
d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)
“[S]topping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.**” -Stephen King
e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)
Most of the advice I’ve been given hasn’t been overtly bad, just not for me. The only two that really stick out as bad bad are less advice and more opinion: 1) “You must write in complete silence” from some article I read a million years ago. I love music and can’t imagine writing without it. It gets me through the aforementioned hard parts. And 2) “You should try writing something serious” from someone who didn’t approve of my love for genre fiction. I think my response was to laugh, but it was a long time ago and I can’t be sure. Again in the words of King, when it comes to memory we all stack the deck.
f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?
Be brave. The world is full of shit that will stop you: naysayers, doubters, your own fear and apathy. It’s up to you to put on your stomping boots, dig in your heels, and fight back.
Oh, and write. Don’t forget to do that part.
*Man, it was hard to do this one without feeling like an arrogant douchecanoe.
**Though I usually do my shovelling from a standing position on account on my giant drafting table/standing desk.