Utilizing Your Strengths To Realize Your Writing Dreams

This year, I am not going to be like many out there who are shouting the mantra of “New Year, New You.” Instead, I am going to suggest that you keep the same you. The same you, only better and more focused. I want you not just to be good, but be phenomenal.

A couple of years ago I read some books by Marcus Buckingham that helped me a) attach words to my strengths, and b) put them to work in a new career. Before I read them, I worked in sales for well over a decade. I was good. But I would never be phenomenal because sales simply was not my true calling. And I was driven to be phenomenal. I knew deep down that my calling was something that would utilize my skills and aptitudesmy strengthsto their fullest. My strengths ultimately wed me to the field of publicity, and I love it. Publicity is pretty close to sales, actually, but the differences are enough to make all the difference in the world to me.

Guest column by Eleanor Van Natta, freelance
author publicist who resides in the Portland, OR

area. She has a website and is also on
Facebook and Twitter.


So in this time of reflection on the past year and looking forward to the new one, look closely at your strengthswhat drives and energizes youand don’t beat yourself up about perceived weaknesses when it comes to social media, accounting, promoting yourself, editing, book design, and so on. If your strength is writing, write. And write well. Work on the rest but not at the expense of the writing.


I have learned over the years that like a sculptor, I need to find and chisel the best parts of me. Some might view that as change, I suppose, but for me it is really just revealing the original me. Like a sculptor reveals the statue in the marble, the pottery in the clay.

So instead of a New You, how about just a more chiseled, molded old you?

There comes a profound sense of relief when we recognize that we do not need to be all things. For example, I was never born to be an accountant. In fact, I am completely bored out of my mind by data entry of any kind. Its not creative, its mundane, its solitary, and I try to avoid it at all costs. I don’t like putting numbers into little tight boxes on glaring white spreadsheets. And I never will.

However, it is one of those necessary evils; if I don’t send invoices to clients, I don’t get paid. So, my apologies in advance, but I am not saying here to only do the things that are fun for you.


Research has shown that you will get farther developing your strengths than your weaknesses. So in 2011, chisel your writing and your other strengths. Manage the weak areas (or delegate and hire someone else to do them) so that they do not end up sabotaging you. For example, if you abhor social media but see it as a necessary evil in book promotion, focus on one or at most two methods (e.g. Facebook & Twitter) instead of 5-10 (Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Digg, etc). Don’t try to manage multiple accounts if you do not enjoy it and it is not energizing to you. Even a social butterfly has just so much time for just so many flowers. There is a growing group of individuals and companies who will be happy to assist you with social media.

Focus on your strengths, and the rest will follow. Cheers and Happy New Year to the old you!

Writing a novel? Agent/writer Donald Maass
is a fiction writing expert, and his book
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
can guide you on your journey.



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3 thoughts on “Utilizing Your Strengths To Realize Your Writing Dreams

  1. Kristan

    Excellent advice. I love the sculpting analogy. And the reminder to bolster our strengths instead of dwelling on our weaknesses. And the practical note, that we can’t always skip things we don’t like. Thanks for all the good tips!

  2. Cathy Kennedy

    I love this, chiseling away my weaknesses to find my strengths and to not do away with the old me, but to improve…mold myself into the kind of writer I want to be. This year, I need to focus on my strengths and to capitalize on making them better through the generous advise of those who are seasoned veterans in the writing arena. 2011 will be a year to a grow as an author. Thanks for the confidence booster!


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