Treat Your Writing Skills Like a Box of Chocolates: Focus on the Ones That Suit You

I’ll never forget the time my teenage daughter, Claire, announced she wanted to make a nosegay of Ferrero Rocher chocolates as a gift for a friend who was performing a violin solo at school.

How do you turn a bunch of foil-wrapped chocolates into flowers? Short of a Harry Potter-esque spell, I had no idea, but my daughter used this YouTube tutorial to bring me up to speed.

Trouble is, I am NOT a crafts person. I’m a good cook… Handy when it comes to English homework… Especially motivated in giving career advice… But let’s just say that, to me, the thought of using perfectly edible chocolate for a craft seemed like a tragic waste of time. Why slow down the speed with which one could pop a delicious confection into the mouth?

Nevertheless, I helped my daughter find skewers, ribbon, and tissue paper. She started promisingly enough on her own, but as concert time approached, she welcomed even my two left hands.

Then, a new problem loomed. How could we wrap the “flowers” so they looked anything like a bouquet? My daughter was starting to panic when I suddenly remembered that we had a chunk of florist’s foam in a cupboard. “Let’s just stick the skewers into the foam,” I suggested. And, then, at the very last moment, we decided we needed to prepare another six “blooms” to make the bouquet look suitably extravagant.

My final tip was perhaps the most useful. I suggested we wrap the base in a contrasting piece of tissue paper. The final verdict? Mom does know best:

I tell you this story not to brag about my craftiness but because it illustrates an important point about writing.

Perhaps you think of yourself as a bad writer, as I think of myself as a bad crafter. But there must be some aspect of writing that you enjoy or are good at. I don’t enjoy crafts, but I enjoy solving problems, and my daughter had presented me with a good one. Fixing it was fun!

Surely, if you really think about writing, you can find some part of the job that you enjoy. Here is a list you might want to consider:

  • Are you good at explaining technical information in plain and simple English?
  • Do you have an ear for quotes and a particular talent for extracting interesting ones from sources?
  • Are you especially skilled at description?
  • Do you have a sense of humour that allows you to find the funny in just about any situation?
  • Were you born with the ability to create attention-getting headlines? (I’ll never forget the person who came up with a name for a recipe in a cookbook I edited. “Chop-Chop Cioppino” was his name for fast-to-make Italian fish stew.)
  • Do you instinctively add “connectors” (e.g., but, on the other hand, meanwhile, as a result) to everything you write?

There are many different skills that go into writing. Focus on the one(s) you’re good at and fake the rest. With more practice, you will get better. ∞

Thanks for the image to Jill Wellington at Pixabay.

About Author

Daphne Gray-Grant

Daphne Gray-Grant, principal of The Publication Coach, gives communications advice to corporations and provides support, advice and training to writers around the world. She is author of two bestselling books: 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better and Your Happy First Draft. Neither is available in bookstores or on Amazon. If you’re interested in buying go to her website.