Understanding your limitations as a writer

A top journalist offers a candid take on the ways writing humbles even the best scribes. Plus, words that are losing popularity, the death of ‘whom,’ and more.

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On most Fridays, Evan Peterson rounds up five stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.

You can’t do everything.

Writers are ideas people, but as we’ve all discovered at some point, our ideas for stories or writing projects aren’t quite the same once you start typing. This week, a couple of posts take a look at realizing your limitations as a writer.

Also, why life experiences matter more than writing style, and a few words that no one’s using—including “whom”.

Following through: Assessing your own writing can be a bit like a new gym membership. Expectations are high until you have to actually start working out—or turn your idea into a great story. Writers have ambitions that don’t always work out because—let’s face it—writing is hard. And attempting to write for a new format or industry can be most humbling of all. New York Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren writes about this in a piece for the magazine. It’s refreshing to hear someone of Lindgren’s stature discuss his long-held belief that being an editor was an “unacceptable outcome” and that “my confidence always collapsed under the weight of my withering self-criticism.” The article asks, but does not answer, another important question—why do some writers wind up writing that screenplay or novel, and others can’t seem to ever break in? This was an article from January, but it’s important enough to highlight months later.

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