One of my strengths, I'd like to think, is coaching and teaching. For whatever reason, I get a lot of satisfaction out of reading people's writing and helping them make it stronger and become better writers.

This ends up being a good thing most of the time. In my job, I'm asked a lot to look at stuff and give my suggestions about how it could be polished/improved/made to suck less.

This seems like a perfect fit. And a lot of the time, it is.

But sometimes it reveals something that I'm convinced I am absolutely terrible at.

Writing out loud.

When people ask me to look over their shoulder and help them move words around or figure out how to make something sound better, I'm just awful. There's no getting around it.

My brain freezes up. I open my mouth but nothing comes out.

Sometimes I'll offer up some crap-ass suggestion. But I can't do it with any conviction or confidence.

I've discovered that, for some reason, my creativity is often tied to my fingers. I have to feel connected to the material. I have to be in the driver's seat.

I think it's because writing is really about so much more than just knowing what words to use and where to put them.

It's really about expressing ideas or emotions. Looking at a fully formed idea and having to give verbal feedback on how it could be stronger is a totally different skillset.

Some people amaze me with how they can think on their feet. How they can get to the heart of a problem in an instant with a bunch of people standing around them, waiting on a response.

For whatever reason, I just can't operate that way.

It's funny, I don't really consider myself particularly well spoken or clever or insightful in real life. But when I get the chance to sit by myself and take a nugget of an idea and refine it over and over, then suddenly I feel like I really have a voice.

Maybe being a great writer just means having the patience and the courage to figure out what it is that you want to say.

What's your greatest weakness as a writer?