Meme: Writers’s stengths I hope to have…

The Individual Voice, at, a writer who I admire for her amazing intestinal fortitude and writerly clarity, tagged me with the task to write something about what are my writerly strengths. Now, I could make a fairly lengthy and probing list of my many weaknesses as writer, or make some comment or another that “the ability to hunt and peck on a keyboard does not one a writer make”.

D at  has modified this meme to a list of strengths he ascertains writers have and hopes to live up to in his own writing. I will further mutate the meme, and make a list of qualities I perceive in good writers, that I hope to sometime attain in my own. My list is not in order of importance, but how the thoughts occur to me.

1. Unflinching consideration and exploration of both positive and negative situations.  I suspect it is a writerly strength to react honestly to all kinds of circumstance and write about it, and through it in an exploratory way.  Much of what I have learned in life has been a result of how others have shared their perceptions and reactions, or have modelled different ways of thinking about things.

2. Incredibly acute ability to listen, to hear. Good writers seem to have really well-developed listening skills; they seem to be sound and idea sponges. They seem able to snatch out of the air the errant idea, the character of dialogue, the novelty of a perception.

3. Willingness to expose their frail underbelly to critiques of all-sorts. This may be because they act under a compulsion to state cases as they feel obliged.

4. Committment to labouring mightily at their craft. They seem willing to wrestle with their angels and demons and their written outcomes seldom give a hint of the depth and range of their struggle.

5. On guard against self-indulgence. This has got to be a really tough trait to develop in balance, as, sometimes self-indulgence is necessary to stretch as a writer, to try out and see where it is fitting to give in to, and where it is an excess.

So, that is some of the stuff I admire in other writers and think about when reading their words.

Further, would like to tag: Kay at

                                               Nita at to take a shot at writing to this meme.

I am curious to read what all who have been tagged have to write about this meme.  It is a way to further learn what to keep in mind while “typing”.  Thanks to all of you who have addressed this topic and so generously shared your considered thoughts.

15 Responses to “Meme: Writers’s stengths I hope to have…”

  1. the individual voice Says:

    I learn so much from everyone’s Meme, especially as they mutate. Lots to think about. I’d make a master list, but I think it really is different for everyone, what we are going after and what we do. Um… “intestinal” fortitude? I’m trying to figure that mysterious one out.

  2. suburbanlife Says:

    tiv- you are a brave and gutsy writer, that’s all i meant by intestinal fortitude (that’s one of my writerly sins – pretentious language! aargh!!!) G

  3. the individual voice Says:

    Well, then, thank you. That’s a high compliment! Gutsy as intestinal is really rather hilarious.

  4. Nita Says:

    Suburban, I think I shall take your mutation and write about it, although you have written quite a bit of what I think too, specially number 2.
    In a few days.

  5. lookingforbeauty Says:

    You have tagged an ignoramus. What the devil is a “meme”? I’ve never heard the term before.
    I looked it up on Wikipedia and found this frightening fact about memes:
    Memeticists argue that the memes most beneficial to their hosts will not necessarily survive, and
    some (memes as?) ideas will propagate less successfully and become extinct. I’m not sure I get it. I’ll have to go consult with Mrs. Stepford next door. She’s a literati; a pundit of prose. She knows everything and perhaps can sort me out.
    To propagate, for me, is too late. And I wouldn’t want to extinguish myself – at least not yet – distinguish would be better.

  6. nemoo Says:

    Writing is like finding out who you are. When you take your first steps at writing, some of us have expectations about what others think we should write about (mysteries, fiction, non-fiction etc). But at the end of the day we make an important discovery: we write what we’re best at. Some are good at poetry and others are excellent columnists. It’s like a gift we have and supposed to discover.

  7. suburbanlife Says:

    Nita – i look forward to what you will do with this meme. Waiting… for whenever you post it. G

    Kay, lfb – toy know you really need to do some thinking about what makes your writerly strengths, or however you choose to present and extend the idea. You are a constant thinker, and what you think about is so worth sharing. G

    Enrique – read Nita’s blogs, she is a remarkable witness to what is happening in modern day India, and is a fine writer, and states her opinions in candid manner, and sure knows how to back up arguments.
    Thanks for visiting here! G

  8. pmousse Says:

    Number three is where I am the most lacking, I think… which is why a blog is such a wonderful place to obtain practice… at writing and at accepting critique.

  9. suburbanlife Says:

    pmousse – your willingness to post your writing means you are prepared for commentary that might come your way, even if it may be off base sometimes, or may not be something you might like to hear. i agree with you – a blog is a good place to start, and finding such a community as we have here is such a boon. And yes, formal critiques can be tough to accept, ye tsometimes they can cut through some of our resistances and aim us in more fruitful directions. i find i would rather comment on what works in other peoples writings, what is really strong and compelling, to reinforce them on their own journey. In our heart of hearts, we all know our weaknesses and sometimes are not so sure about our strengths and it helps to have others point them out.
    I appreciate your comments! G

  10. Nita Says:

    i wanted to do this meme today…but its got delayed again…sorry! anyway, its on my mind very much and its a subject very very close to my heart. you’ll get to read it soon.
    Regards, Nita.

  11. Meme: What strengths should a writer have? « A wide angle view of India Says:

    […] should a writer have? Posted on October 7, 2007 by Nita Suburbanlife tagged me for a meme, to list out a writer’s strengths. She listed out strengths which she feels a writer should have […]

  12. mahendrap Says:

    I have tracked back to your post, but don’t know why it hasn’t appeared yet. It did appear on Nita’s post!

    It seems WordPress is tracking the meme from its origin – so the person who tagged you gets the trackback first, and the earlier contributors to the meme, whom you tagged at the same time, receive the trackback later! 🙂

  13. mahendrap Says:

    Sorry, I meant: whom you trackbacked at the same time…see? I’m still learning!

  14. How To Avoid Being A Writer In Five Steps Plus Everything You Wanted To Know About Writing Because Nita Wasn’t Afraid To Meme Me « …salted lithium. Says:

    […] meme has been changed slightly by each successive meme-r. The Original meme was about the strengths a writer must have to be successful. For myself, looking back over […]

  15. The Writing Meme « An Unquiet Mind Says:

    […] that I aspire to have. I read a few excellent writers who’ve contributed to this before, like Suburban Life, The Individual Voice, Joe Felso, MariaCristina, and of course, Rambodoc. I liked […]

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