I'd like to hear how you face and beat your biggest weakness in regards to your writing habits and regimen.
The proposition reminds me of the trick question employers ask prospective employees: "What do you think is your weakness?"
The naive souls who answer honestly — "I'm lazy." "I disorganized." "I have a foot fetish." — don't get the job, while those more schooled in the ways of the world earn the coveted position with lies such as, "My weakness is that I work too hard and am loyal to a fault."
I, however, can relax and tell the truth, knowing I have nothing to hide from my writing homies. Therefore, I accept Ara's challenge:
My greatest weakness was in thinking I had any exceptional talent.
Last year, after fourteen years of writing fiction and accruing various writing credentials, I received a rather stark assessment of my latest work-in-progress from a fair, but tough editor. The experience once and for all disabused me of the notion I had anything but the most common of talents. That knowledge set me free, by allowing me to start over, so to speak, in every respect.
I am again reminded of a story my old-school, hard-nosed ballet instructor in Chicago told my class of 30-some sweating, adolescent girls in a third-floor walk-up with no air conditioning one day back when: of how a very accomplished Danish dancer had visited one year, and after the first few lessons, decided her understanding of technique — the foundation of her training — was all wrong. She started again at the beginning with the most basic steps until she understood each movement.
I tried to follow that example. I reworked my writing regime to give equal time to three tasks: active writing, learning and marketing. I determined what skills I needed to learn more about and then actually followed through on the writing exercises that would increase my ability in those areas.
I think I now have a much firmer grasp on a lot more tools in my writing kit. I'm under no illusion, however, that my learning is done or that my tool collection is complete. I have thousands of miles yet to go before reaching Fabulous Writer Land, but at least I'm a tenth of a mile closer than I was.
I'd like to think I'll never again delude myself into thinking I'm better than I am, but alas, I tend toward optimism, which means I'll have to remain ever vigilant in the fight against egoism.
What about you? What demons have you crammed into your closet? Have they remained there, or do they still occasionally escape to terrorize you?
P.S. It was a great question, Ara.