What makes you so good at what you do?

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress

What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby PhilipIsles » 18 Jan 2011, 16:19

I recently had a discussion with an old family friend who, among other things, has worked as a UNICEF representative and published a self-help book. She said she had met a lot of incredibly interesting, successful people in her lifetime and the first thing she always asked them was this:
What makes you so good at what you do?


Of course she occasionally had to explain herself when people thought she was mocking them, but eventually people realize what she's asking: what do you think separates you from the pack? What unique skill-set do you bring to the table?

I thought it would be a good question to present to the forums and eventually post on my blog.

Is anyone willing to put forth an answer? I know for me, my answer to this question is also my weakness: my ideas come out of left field, and I come up with things--whether plot lines or solutions to scenes--that are more original than others. The problem is that it's hard for me to know when I've crossed the believability/just-too-ridiculous line.
User avatar
PhilipIsles
 
Posts: 28
Joined: 03 Dec 2010, 13:13

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby dios4vida » 18 Jan 2011, 16:33

I think my shining trait is what got me in trouble as a kid - my overactive imagination. When I was younger it was hard to me to pay attention to things because I get really distracted and my mind starts playing out scenarios and shaking up the normal world into something more exciting. Nowadays, I'll see something totally common and I'll start subconsciously extrapolating on it, making it cooler and newer and throwing in random elements to see what comes out. Since I write fantasy, it's been very helpful from time to time.

Another thing that helps me is probably an answer most of us will have. I love to read. Like, I adore-cherish-need my reading time. I devour books and come running back for more. With all of those plots, characters, and random ideas floating around in my brain, things collide and create something new that becomes fodder for a new story.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson
User avatar
dios4vida
 
Posts: 1119
Joined: 22 Feb 2010, 14:08
Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby sierramcconnell » 18 Jan 2011, 17:01

I am a complete and total bullshit artist.

I can make a story up about anything, from anywhere, because I like to bull my way through it. Just the other day I was doing it to an antique find from a junk store that my mom restored for me.

"Well, how do you know it wasn't owned by some five-year-old cancer patient? My mom cleaned a lot of smoke out of that thing to make it work. What if she got cancer, got sick, and now haunts the damn thing? And it's going to play in the middle of the night. I can see it now. There she stands in the middle of the room with that angry look. She's wearing a black dress with a green bodice- What? Oh, no, sorry, she's wearing red and pink. She hates the black and green because she was buried in it. It pisses her off even more for people to see her in it. I mean, seriously. How do you know it's not owned by some five-year old cancer patient from Withamsville, TN- (looks up)...Ohio...and she's angry because of a medical error in which she not only couldn't get the treatment she needed but her father was so busy working trying to pay the bills in that damn factory...or maybe it was a farm...something about milk..."

What? All that from a 1981 Barbie Grand Piano? Really? Yes. I'm a complete and total random machine. I make stuff up as I go along just right straight up off the top of my head (she liked to skip when she could, but she couldn't at the end, and it made her so angry, so very angry, that she's holding on, and she's going to get some sort of revenge...against something...if only she could remember who it was...but she needs help...perhaps the person who found her toy piano...and if they don't help her...she play it...over and over again...until they go mad...)

Heh.
I'm on Tumblr!

The blog died...but so did I...and now I'm alive again! OMG.
User avatar
sierramcconnell
 
Posts: 670
Joined: 23 Aug 2010, 19:28
Location: BG, KY

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Watcher55 » 18 Jan 2011, 17:05

I’m not one guy. I am who I need to be; just not always when I need to be at any given time. “Squirrel.” I’m not one guy. I am who I need to be…

The world isn’t so tolerant of that quality but the pencil is patient (that’s why it has an eraser). It’s content to wait until the central character in my head can make sense of what the others are saying. It works out pretty well because they all speak from the same heart, and my heart knows it has something that needs to be said. It listens to what people aren’t saying, but it’s finally figured out that it isn’t always wise to repeat what they’re not saying out loud.

I tend to look at the world sideways then I flip it backward. I guess it goes back to when I was six or seven and the “bogey-man under the bed” was the fear that I was a Russian spy (no really, it was the '60's).
User avatar
Watcher55
 
Posts: 741
Joined: 27 Nov 2010, 06:25
Location: Plantser-ville

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 18 Jan 2011, 17:55

I was an only child with divorced parents and no other children in my family near my age on either parent side. I had to spend a lot of time by myself and neither parent had much money so I had to make do with what I had. That usually meant playing with whatever was handy while being the only one under the age of 30 in the room. So when we'd go out to eat with friends of my parents I'd play with the salt and pepper shakers and little creamer tubs. I'd assign them names and personalities and they'd act out little dramas on the table cloth. (My parents thought it was cute until Pepper killed Salt which required me to unscrew the top and dump her innards all over the table.)

My grandparents had a cabin on the Missouri river that we'd go to on the weekends. Some of the other cabins were owned by families with kids about my age but mostly only the boys ever came up and not as often as my grandparents so sometimes I'd have boys to tag along with and sometimes I was alone. I spent a lot of time playing on the river and wandering the trails in the woods alone. That was about when I started telling myself stories which eventually led to telling the other kids stories. I considered it a win if they believed my stories.

I was basically kind of terrible. I never learned to share and I spent so much time doing my own thing that when I was around other kids it never occurred to me that they wouldn't want to do my ideas too and I think my dogged insistence that I Was Right Always intimidated the other kids into following along with me. Looking back, I'm pretty sure that when I did get my hands on other kids I treated them much like the salt and pepper shakers - tools for my solitary entertainment.

While this made me kind of an obnoxious, controlling, yet imaginative kid, it predisposed me to being a pretty good storyteller as an adult.

Although my husband would sometimes disagree, I eventually grew out of my domineering personality and I sort of learned to share. :-)
May the word counts be ever in your favor. http://www.sommerleigh.com
Be nice, or I get out the Tesla cannon.
Sommer Leigh
Moderator
 
Posts: 1624
Joined: 02 Apr 2010, 20:07
Location: Omaha, NE

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Robin » 18 Jan 2011, 19:01

Blaming it on being the middle child.

Too cool older sister didn't want to hang out with me. Younger sister was too much of a baby. Had to come up with unique and interesting take on the world.

Middle children rock, by the way.
Robin
"A glass slipper is only a shoe. Dreamers who only dream never have their dreams come true."

http://www.RobynLucas.com/
User avatar
Robin
 
Posts: 315
Joined: 08 Apr 2010, 18:09
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Watcher55 » 18 Jan 2011, 19:07

Robin wrote:Blaming it on being the middle child.

Too cool older sister didn't want to hang out with me. Younger sister was too much of a baby. Had to come up with unique and interesting take on the world.

Middle children rock, by the way.

I'm fifth of nine - and I'm here to testify!!
two older brothers and two older sisters - me - two younger brothers and two younger sisters.
User avatar
Watcher55
 
Posts: 741
Joined: 27 Nov 2010, 06:25
Location: Plantser-ville

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Mike R » 18 Jan 2011, 19:15

My mind takes a seemingly mundane situation and guides it to some totally ridiculous conclusion.
Mike R
 
Posts: 82
Joined: 16 Dec 2010, 17:26

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby steve » 18 Jan 2011, 19:17

A handful of great teachers.
Read one of the best stories by Borges.
User avatar
steve
 
Posts: 204
Joined: 25 Jun 2010, 21:09
Location: Web City

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Robin » 18 Jan 2011, 19:25

Watcher55 wrote:
Robin wrote:
Middle children rock, by the way.

I'm fifth of nine - and I'm here to testify!!
two older brothers and two older sisters - me - two younger brothers and two younger sisters.


5th of 9?!?!! Wow, you are right in the middle. Nine? Wow. How far apart were you guys?
Robin
"A glass slipper is only a shoe. Dreamers who only dream never have their dreams come true."

http://www.RobynLucas.com/
User avatar
Robin
 
Posts: 315
Joined: 08 Apr 2010, 18:09
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Watcher55 » 18 Jan 2011, 20:09

Robin wrote:5th of 9?!?!! Wow, you are right in the middle. Nine? Wow. How far apart were you guys?


It ranges from 11 months to no more than 2 1/2 years. Our high school enjoyed 18 straight years of at least one "55" in attendance.

EDIT: I THINK my oldest sis was 12 when my youngest sis was born.
User avatar
Watcher55
 
Posts: 741
Joined: 27 Nov 2010, 06:25
Location: Plantser-ville

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Claudie » 18 Jan 2011, 21:21

The first answer that came to my mind was "I'm obsessive."

When I want something badly, I put every little ounce of energy and time I can to it. I'm not a forceful person, but I don't need to be to be writing. I need to put my brain to the storytelling task, and devote time to learn the craft. There are very few moments of my daily life when I'm not, in one way or another, trying to better my writing.

Perhaps it hasn't made me 'so good' yet, but I trust it will, one day. For now it certainly allows me to keep growing as a writer despite the billions of other things to do.
"I do not think there is any thrill [...] like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything." -- Nikola Tesla
Claudie
 
Posts: 707
Joined: 09 Jun 2010, 12:57
Location: Quebec

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Guardian » 19 Jan 2011, 06:44

My overactive imagination, my obsession, but mostly my sense for the details and the sense to connect the dots in everything very fast. Oh, and my endless patience.
Guardian
 
Posts: 563
Joined: 29 Sep 2010, 13:36
Location: Somewhere between two realms

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby Down the well » 19 Jan 2011, 08:01

I don't give up.

I used to work in law enforcement, and sometimes I think I should have stayed. I would have made a good detective. Really, cold cases would have kept me up at night.


Watcher55 wrote:I'm fifth of nine - and I'm here to testify!!
two older brothers and two older sisters - me - two younger brothers and two younger sisters.


This reminded me of a family I knew as a kid. Their last name was Finger. They had ten kids and lived in two houses, side-by-side -- parents in one house, grandparents in the other. The kids went back and forth I suppose. I always wanted to write a story about them.
Down the well
 
Posts: 516
Joined: 10 Jun 2010, 12:22

Re: What makes you so good at what you do?

Postby sierramcconnell » 19 Jan 2011, 08:08

Down the well wrote:I don't give up.

I used to work in law enforcement, and sometimes I think I should have stayed. I would have made a good detective. Really, cold cases would have kept me up at night.


Watcher55 wrote:I'm fifth of nine - and I'm here to testify!!
two older brothers and two older sisters - me - two younger brothers and two younger sisters.


This reminded me of a family I knew as a kid. Their last name was Finger. They had ten kids and lived in two houses, side-by-side -- parents in one house, grandparents in the other. The kids went back and forth I suppose. I always wanted to write a story about them.


And in some cases it was really hard to get in touch with their cousin, last name Toe.
I'm on Tumblr!

The blog died...but so did I...and now I'm alive again! OMG.
User avatar
sierramcconnell
 
Posts: 670
Joined: 23 Aug 2010, 19:28
Location: BG, KY

Next

Return to All Things Writing

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron