In the past several months, I've been doing a lot of reading of other people's work, and of my own, and it got me thinking of how, while all academics do similar things, we all have a certain thing that we're very good at. I first noticed this in grad school seminars. There was that guy who could remember the arguments of seemingly every book he'd ever read. My best friend in grad school, Piper Ph.D., could immediately zero in on the logical flaw in any argument she read. Others could write beautifully, seemingly with very little effort. My dear ID can crank out ridiculous amounts of work in a very short time -- in the last stage of his dissertation writing, he managed to write 1,000 words a day, every day, for well over a month.
I am at times envious of all these people, and wouldn't we love to be the person who could do all of these things? But lately I've realized that my own skill area lies in pattern recognition -- I look at a draft of a writing project and I can see where the main argument should be, and how everything else should be organized. That is to say, I'm not the best writer, but I'm a fantastic re-writer, and it's a skill that has gotten better over time. I always love that Aha! moment when I see it.
So I thought I'd put this out there, and give people a chance to take a break from the feelings of inadequacy that too often plague us when it comes to our own work: What are you good at?