Sunday, May 21, 2006

Weaknesses

My name is JA Konrath, and I have trouble answering my email.

It sneaks up on me. I'll miss a day of replies. Then two days. And by the end of the month, I have 380 emails in my Inbox that need to be answered.

A lot of it is fan mail. A good deal of it is other authors, asking advice. Some of it is people asking for me to do an appearance.

I always answer the important stuff immediately, such as from my editors and agents. But the other stuff I always put off until it's overwhelming.

I'm not complaining. I much prefer it to getting no email at all. MUCH.

But if you've emailed me in the last month and haven't heard back, I want to tell you it isn't because I'm ignoring you.

Well, not ignoring you specifically. I'm ignoring everybody equally, so don't feel as if I've signalled you out for snubbing.

And I will get to replying. Eventually.

But this ongoing problem of mine made me think about my professional weaknesses. I can rattle off my strengths easily, as I'm sure more writers can name theirs---we all seem to know what we're good at.

But perhaps it is more important to find out what we're not good at, and strive to improve these things.

Timely answering of email is one of my flaws. Remembering names is another (I sometimes forget the names of my children---I'm awful with names.) Being impetuous (rather than careful) is yet another which has gotten me into trouble before.

These problems can be fixed, if I work at them. And having identified them, I'll make an effort to change. I'll set aside specific times to answer email. I'll pay more attention to names. I'll try to slow down and think before acting impulsively.

What are your professional weaknesses, and how will you fix them? And is it possible to turn a weakness into a strength?