Sunday, October 31, 2010

Writing and Learning

Please forgive the two-week silence.  I was away at a writing workshop for 10 days and busy this week resting up and catching up with things on the home front.

The workshop, run by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, was about marketing.  We discussed the state of the current publishing market and ways to better market ourselves and our work.

It was quite interesting.  I got a lot of tools for my writing toolbox and information that is encouraging and exciting at this time.  I even put up my first e-pub - a short story.  You can check it out here if you have a Kindle, and here for other ereaders.

But I want to focus for a moment on writers learning their craft.  Yes, what we do is art, but there are still a lot of things to learn about that art.

When I started taking writing seriously, I could tell a story.  But my craft flaws kept readers from getting to and enjoying the story.  So I had to learn the craft of writing - and learn it well enough it went into my subconscious and came out my fingers.

My craft is a lot better than it was five years ago.  It still needs work - I just put aside a book I was working on because I realized I don't have the skill yet to write it.  I'll try it again next year, and learn more in the meantime.  Learning is an ongoing process - no good writer will say they know it all.

So how do we learn?

  •  Books.  There are some good books about writing out there.  I recommend Stephen King's On Writing to anyone interested in getting serious about the craft.  Look for other books written by successful writers. 

  • Workshops.  A good workshop can help your craft along and speed your improvement.  Conversely, a bad workshop can set you back and teach you stuff that'll slow down any progress.  Do your homework when it comes to workshops.  Find out who's running it, and what their qualifications are.  Ask good writers you know what workshops they would recommend.

  • Practice.  I don't know why we writers shy away from the word practice.  But it's something we need to do.  Use a short story or novel you're working on and practice something - maybe this time it's getting in the 5 senses every two pages, next time you're working on character voice, and another time you're focusing on cliffhangers.  But pick something and work on it.  And realize every word you write can be practice, so write a lot.  The upside?  Sometimes we can sell our practice sessions to an editor.
That's all about learning for now.  Is there a topic in writing you would like me to talk about?  Leave me a comment.  I look forward to hearing from other writers about these things.  Good luck, and don't be afraid to learn!

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