Positive Psychology: Building on Your Strengths

Have you ever heard of a thing called positive psychology? I just learned about it today. Positive psychology is, as I understand it, a great therapy based on building strengths and thinking positively. The people who came up with it thought that psychology should be more than just a focus on problems. They believe in a balance between troubleshooting our weaknesses and maximizing our strengths. I think it’s a wonderful concept. Why not continue working with what you’ve already got instead of desperately trying to conjure up a characteristic that’s just not in your nature?

So, I got to thinking about a writer’s skills and I wondered what were my skills? I came up with the following categories:

Theme: Is the theme fluid throughout the story? Is the theme universal?

Plot: Is the plot structured well? Is the reader clear on what’s happening? Is the story compelling? original? Is the story paced correctly for maximum effect?

Descriptions: Of characters? Of setting? Of action? Are they from the right perspectives? Are you showing not telling? Or are you telling in a compelling way? Are you flooding your writing with too many adjectives/adverbs? Is everything important/relevant to the story?

Language: Too many big, unnecessary words? Are you using the right words?

Voice: Is there one loud and present voice throughout the story?

Time and Place: Is the setting being used appropriately? Does it bring out plot, action, and character?

Conflict: Are the obstacles believable? Is there depth to antagonist? Are the stakes high enough for the reader to care about the character?

Character(s): How well have your characters been developed? Is there depth? How interested is the reader? Is their purpose/desire made clear? What about relationships with others? Is the dialogue intriguing and fluff-free? Are the conversations natural? Believable?

What are your strengths and how can you work on them further?

As of yet, I’m not really sure what my strengths are. When I write with confidence, I usually have a steady and strong voice. When I write with a foundation/outline, I usually structure my plot well. My strengths are dependent on a number of factors. I think I can say that I am generally an original writer. I’ve heard that from a bunch of my readers and I’m definitely okay with taking their word for it.

But then there are other things to consider: Do I write everyday? Do I read everyday? Do I finish stories? Hm… no. But! I’m going to force myself to not focus on that. Let’s see if this positive psychology thing works…

What are your strengths and how can you work on them further?

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sarahwedgbrow
    May 17, 2010 @ 16:52:33

    That’s a great questionnaire…might have to steal that sometime to check over my work, if you don’t mind. I thrive on positive psychology because I’m so good at quitting things. I need it for balance. I also believe in that karma deal where the good energy gets passed back around…and it’s important to be genuine with that too. negative energy pools and becomes something unmanageable. I just leave it alone, to drown.


  2. Jane Kennedy Sutton
    May 18, 2010 @ 00:10:46

    I’ll have to think about what my strengths might be, but I think you compiled a great list of questions for me to use as I revise my latest manuscript. Thanks!


  3. Dominique
    May 18, 2010 @ 05:13:39

    Thanks guys :)

    However, I have to admit that I kind of half-assed this list. Maybe schmaybe I’ll make a better list soon.


  4. s0beurself
    May 19, 2010 @ 05:30:39

    This list frightens me. It makes total sense, don’t get me wrong, but seeing that many questions at once tends to shut me down. That said, my greatest asset – and failing? – is total OCD when it comes to editing.

    And I could happily work on it further…but at some point I have to let go and make some $.


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