Charlotte's Web

Charlotte Otter – novelist, feminist, crime writer

Five Writing Strengths

33 Comments

This is the first time I’ve been scared by a meme. Nova tagged me, and as she said in her introduction, it’s very easy as a writer to name your own weaknesses, but far harder to pinpoint, face up to or admit your strengths.

I think this is a great exercise. It took a little courage, but here are what I believe to be my five writing strengths:

1. I am a writer. I wanted to be a writer from as far back as I can remember, and I have earned my living as a writer since I graduated from university in 1992. I know that I can write anything, given a good brief, a cup of coffee and a deadline. However, it was only last year during a visit to the dentist (The Cool White Room of Peace), that I realised that just because I haven’t yet published My Novel that doesn’t make me not a writer. I write daily, I write constantly, it is part of my being and who I am. I get published. I have by-lines. I write anonymously. I ghost-write. I write online. I blog. I am a writer. It’s my passion. As Nova said, “there is no Plan B.”

2. I have a natural voice. Right now, I’ve finished plotting the narrative arc of my novel and I am making some decisions about voice. Having written professionally for 15 years in my own voice, it’s proving quite difficult to step out of that and use someone else’s – someone weak, someone unreliable, someone I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with. I have to find a way to inflect this character’s voice with some of the natural ease of my own, while still maintaining the jars, prickles and brittleness that will make her unique.

3. I write instinctively. This is probably allied with the point above, but I think the way I write creatively flows from a place that is not of the intellect. Writers talk about being in “the zone” and I get there easily. Words flow. It’s just a matter of allowing myself the time and space to let it happen. I got some good tips from a seasoned author recently about consciously carving out the time for my creative writing. Now I need to implement them.

4. I make good pictures. My images come with smell; they are three-dimensional and lively. I’m good at place, at evoking physicality. My characters don’t float in a dreamscape – they are strongly bound to places that trap them, that free them, that scare them.

5. I am endlessly fascinated by people. Sit me down with someone for an evening, and by the end of it I’ll know about their granny’s double mastectomy and breast reconstruction (C-cup), their brother’s predilection for bulk-shopping toilet rolls (a decade’s supply in the garage), their uncle’s fling with right-wing politics and their friend who was so charged with adrenaline when an intruder broke into her flat on the second storey of an apartment block that she picked him up and threw him out of the window. People tell me stuff. I don’t make notes (that would be rude) but I file everything away. People are far weirder, far odder and far more fascinating than fiction. And I LOVE fiction.

On that note, I’m dying to know how others might respond to this challenge. I tag:

Helen of A Was Alarmed
The Hobgoblin of Little Minds
Paul from Access all Areas
YogaMum from Yoga Gumbo
Simonne of Cliterary Fiction
Lia from the Yum Yum Cafe
BlogLily
Courtney of Everything In Between
Emily of Telecommuter Talk
Rae of Journey Mama
Amity of Noble Savage
Smithereens
Litlove
Ash of Stitched in Holland
Letters Home to You

I know a lot of writers! I am so lucky. And if I left you out, please don’t be cross and please do join in.

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Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

33 thoughts on “Five Writing Strengths

  1. Pingback: Cosmetic Surgery » Five Writing Strengths

  2. Hi Charlotte, these are strengths indeed.

    Probably the most interesting meme yet. I will enjoy reading everyones’ responses.

    Did she really throw the intruder out of her window?

  3. I loved reading this Charlotte, but I’m also a bit scared to fill mine in :) Working on it now!

  4. You definitely are a writer, but then we’ve all known that from the start. It must be incredibly hard to write in a voice that you wouldn’t even want to be friends with – that must be the biggest leap into writing fiction as opposed to non-fiction.

  5. Great answers! And this is a great exercise — it’s surely important to know one’s strengths and then to work from them rather than struggling with weaknesses all the time.

  6. Charlotte, I love what you did with this meme! (Yes, it was a tough one, huh?) And I love your strengths. For me, #1 is the perfect answer. And as for #5, I think that’s one of the greatest personality traits a writer could / should have. A strength indeed.

    Thanks for taking part. I can’t wait to read everyone you’ve tagged.

  7. Pingback: Writing Strengths « BlogLily

  8. Oh boy, Charlotte’s tagged me again! I look forward to it… but it’ll have to wait ’til November, mkay?

  9. Hi Charlotte, I am new to your blog… I love it. Your words create vivid visuals!. That’s a great strength.
    Love the latest meme.
    Your fascination with people…I get. Have you ever hung out in an airport..great place to watch people.

  10. Bindi, thanks. And yes, my friend did pick up a man far larger than herself and throw him out of a window. She beat him up a bit first, too.

    Oh but I read your response, Ash, and it’s lovely. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Kit, it is. This character is thoroughly unappealing.

    Thanks, Dorothy.

    Thanks to you, Nova, for prodding me. I’m also looking forward to the responses …

    … Like yours, Mr Letters. I can wait till November. But not much longer.

    Hi Dee, and welcome. I do love an airport, but often find myself in tears watching people reunite, which is why I love, love, love the movie Love, Actually. I cry every time I watch it.

  11. So much interesting stuff here.

    I’ll do this meme tomorrow! My first reaction is that I don’t have five strengths…that can’t be true, can it?

  12. Charlotte, thanks for getting me to ponder the question of writing strengths. It was fun. Here is my answer.

  13. Wooo! This looks like fun (although tricky too). Loved your answers, Charlotte, but I can add one more. I think your strength is in using the personal to create a sense of place, a mode of being and a gentle route to insight. That’s what I love about coming here!

  14. I know a woman (old enough to be my grandma) who has a way of letting people feel so comfortable they tell her anything. She has always told me that when I find a man I want to marry, she just wants to talk with him for a few hours. Incredibly, she will probably know more about him in 120 minutes than I do through dating!

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  16. Pingback: Five Writing Strengths « The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

  17. Filing everything away, always making mental notes – how I can relate to that! Sometimes I imagine myself taking mental snapshots with a camera.

    This is a cool meme, I am going to do it tomorrow (I hear ominous giggling from a certain person’s bedroom right now…!)

  18. Pingback: Five Writing Strengths « Smithereens

  19. This is a good meme. Scary, perfect for October. Your images come with smell… that is interesting. I always have a very good picture in my mind when I read your posts — you are brilliant at creating a place, and it is always a place that I can almost “hear.” I remember the time you wrote about the day you were with friends, out on a boat all day … I could hear the sounds of water lapping on that boat, and I could see the blue.

  20. I enjoyed doing this meme, thanks for thinking of me Charlotte!

  21. Pingback: My five writing strengths. A meme. « Letters Home to You

  22. I see there’s already a pingback so have a look Charlotte! I decided to do it now rather than have it looming over my head for another three weeks…
    - ian in hamburg

  23. Pingback: Two Memes « Tales from the Reading Room

  24. Pingback: The Five Writing Strengths Meme « Of Books and Bicycles

  25. Wow, Charlotte, scary meme. I’m too self-deprecating for this. But I’ll work on it, maybe for November, also.

  26. Hi Charlotte — I’ve just tagged myself and done this meme. Nice site — I haven’t visited before.

  27. dear charlotte, you are a wonderful writer. the way you tell a story, i’m instantly captured, even if you just write about your writing!

    are you serious about this nablopomo thing? i have been soooo lazy lately but even if i decide to have a go at it, i’m not sure if i can come up with something to write about for 30 days in a row … i’m not that much of a writer, i guess. but i’ll think about it!

  28. Charlotte, this is lovely. It really is much easier to write about our weaknesses–but you demonstrate your strengths beautifully in this post.

  29. So I am arriving a little late at the party here and need to get a couple of drinks down me and catch up with the rest.

    I am flattered that you tagged me and will put my head to the grind stone this weekend.

    I don’t comment here very often I know, but I do drop in fairly regularly when I have fifteen mins to spare and a large Starbucks (didn’t we use to call it coffee?).

    Your strength as a writer Charlotte, is in your confidence and serenity. You don’t chase the ratings or the readers. You are just you and that’s what makes people like me keep coming back.

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  31. Pingback: A Was Alarmed » Blog Archive » Five Writing Strengths

  32. Pingback: Five Writing Strengths « Solinitae Theory

  33. Why is Grape Nuts cereal called that, when it contains neither grapes, nor nuts?

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