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“I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.” Martin Seligman

I love this idea.  Society has a tendency to work the other way around.  If you have a weakness, it will be pointed out to you by teachers, friends, parents, and certainly enemies.  Your perception of reality can easily be distorted, so that whatever this weakness is, you begin to see it as your defining characteristic.

An example.  Suppose you have the world’s most gorgeous eyes, but somebody has just told you your nose is too big.  When you go look in the mirror, what are you going to see – the beautiful eyes, or the ugly nose which has suddenly overtaken your entire face and turned you into a troll?  Remember the teen years, and how one zit could render you socially inadequate for a week?  (I’m assuming all readers of this blog are not supremely enlightened beings who are beyond this particular problem).

We tend to allow ourselves to be defined and limited by the things we don’t do well, and that focus keeps us from building on our amazing strengths.  This is what the Ugly Duckling story was all about.  The swan made a lousy duck.  It would have made an even worse chicken – imagine if it had never even found its way into the water, because it was busily trying to figure out how to scratch around in the barnyard.  Everything has an intended purpose – a spoon doesn’t work well for eating spaghetti, but it sure beats out the fork when it comes to soup.

When it comes to writing, we all have strengths.  Yours might be characters, or plot, or making music with words.  And I believe it is important to build on those strengths, rather than devoting all of your time and energy toward fixing what you think are your weaknesses.  Think of your favorite authors: what comes to mind is not their weaknesses, but whatever they do that shines.  

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that grammar and punctuation are not important, or that we shouldn’t work to get better at plotting or character development, or whatever it is that weakens our work.  I’m only saying that if you spend all of your time trying to correct what you’re not quite as good at, you don’t get to shine in the area where you have true brilliance.

That said, if I don’t find some time for writing soon, I’m not going to shine at anything.  It’s been a week of distractions and time consuming reality based living.  Time to get on with building on my own writing strengths.

As always, keep your fingers moving, and may your muses be easily accessible and full of ideas.


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