Writerly Wednesdays

Labeling Your Skills: The Essential Tool for Growth as a Writer

How you talk about yourself as a writer is essential. You could stunt your writing growth if your words about yourself aren’t accurate.

We could list every writer here and find something good about their work.

Ernest Hemingway, with a journalist background, made every word hold vital importance. John Steinbeck could charm the reader through the plot and use cynicism to destroy the reader’s hope in human goodness and decency. William Faulkner tested the waters with a 1,288-word sentence, and his book was still published.

Elements of excellent or interesting reading are found in any work. There is some redeeming quality in every piece.

Of course, you’re on the list as well. There is something you do well, and you stand out as exceptional. One person writes dialogue well. Another description. Some can create compelling characters. Others build worlds and plot lines that readers can’t put down.

Other writers are more nuanced and create a narrative through a compelling voice. Others show the past well. A few writers can give insight into work or a lifestyle so readers feel as if they are looking through a door cracked open.

When you say, ‘I’m such an awful writer,’ the words are untrue. You are better in one area and expect another part of your writing skills to match that level.

So, if you think you’re a terrible writer, you must take it back. It’s not true. You are a good writer.

Here’s where we turn into Steinbeck and snatch cynicism from hope. There’s something we should be improving. Sure, you can describe a character with finite details that readers love, but can you show what they’re doing without telling us? A writer may build a lovely world, but without the ability to put characters into the work, the audience is likely to say something.

Labeling areas where you need help is an essential trait for a writer. This will help you shore up those skills.

Remember, if you’re making blanket statements like ‘I’m a terrible writer,’ you’re not taking the opportunity to single out what you do well, what needs work, and how you can build on your strengths. Learn to find truths about yourself and your work; you’ll improve faster than if you make negative statements.

Not all views expressed are those of every member of ICW.


  • Peter Leavell

    Peter Leavell, a graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and a MA in English Literature, was the 2011 winner of the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author, along with multiple other awards. An author, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband, and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com

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