LEARNING (a.k.a. 5 Aha Moments on My Writing Journey)
I consider myself a perpetual student in the School of Life (more on that in my Week in Review post this coming Sunday). Thus, writing is a lifelong process with constant room for improvement. As with life, in writing I’m always learning something new each day and it makes me a better writer.
This week on FRIDAY FORAGE, the last FF post for the month and 2013, I’m still learning. Edification in all areas of my life makes me well-rounded and enriches me as a writer and a person.
Here are some ways I’ve discovered progress and new successful paths on my writing journey.
1) IT’S NOT WHAT YOU SAY, BUT HOW YOU SAY IT
We’ve all heard that to become a better writer you need to keep reading. You don’t have to stick to your genre(s) of choice, but you get an appreciation for what works and what doesn’t as a story weaves (or fails to weave) together.
I’ve read galleys, ARCs, published novels, WIPs for beta-reads or critique, and even my own work. Everything I’ve learned so far as a writer through formal and informal training is put to good use. Analysis of other writers’ stories helps me strengthen my own.
2) SEEING IS BELIEVING
I process new information more effectively as a visual learner. Holly Lisle has The Writer Crash Tests where she reads passages from brave writers who submit/subject their WIPs for critique. In each video, she tackles areas of improvement by first reading the passage that shows up onscreen before highlighting sections that could use a little work. She then takes the viewer through a revised passage with her suggested corrections to illustrate the comparison.
It sounds like a straightforward lesson, but seeing it step by step has proven effective when it comes to my own revisions. I’m not discounting the value of previous reference books and lessons I’ve gone through, but this is worth mentioning because of how bright the lightbulb went off after watching the videos. It’s worth having a look.
3) A LITTLE INSPIRATION DOES A LOT OF GOOD
There are many books by writers for writers about their experiences. It’s a refreshing reminder that even the billionaire world famous authors didn’t always have it easy.
Emily Temple shares 10 of the Greatest Essays on Writing Ever Written. There are links to the essays or excerpts thereof. I especially like Kate Bernheimer‘s Fairy Tale is Form, Form is Fairy Tale. It’s relevant to me not only because of certain types of stories I’m currently writing. I think her views transcend any given genre and get to the heart and mind of storytelling itself.
Check out the comments section, as well. As the ten featured in the article aren’t the only nuggets of information out there, commenters share their opinions and also provide links to other inspirational resources.
4) “CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF.”
I learned multiple times this year how important it is to take a break from the actual act of writing for fear I might burn out. I came close to said burn out a couple times and it’s not fun, let me tell you. You’d never not want to live your passion, right?
This invaluable learning experience resulted in the reevaluation of my writing goals. I’ve come to trust myself more. The dreams still sore high, but I keep my feet on the ground. Days are now combinations of writing time, creative (non-writing) time, and leisure. Sure, writing sprints are fun when there are word count quotas and deadlines to reach. However, hand injuries and the effects of prolonged hours of forgotten meals take their toll. Don’t do it to yourself, people. Be kind to your inner storyteller and I promise the words will flow.
5) IN MY OWN WORDS
Speaking of flowing words, another major contribution to the massive word counts this year had to do with me saying buh-bye to my comfort zone. I took more chances, put myself out there, and built my confidence as well as a network of amazing writers around the world.
A couple of things that helped my writing, my creative outlet, and my sanity are this blog and my tweetable community. It’s interesting how anonymous intimacy can take one’s inhibitions and lock them in the junk drawer. Here I am, sharing my brain spills with people, some whom I’ve never met in person, and yet, I feel a kinship through our correspondence. Words of encouragement in comments, even liking a blog post or getting retweets, all these are great boosts to anyone who’s trying to make a go at this writing life.
Thank you very much for allowing me to share my FRIDAY FORAGE Series with you along with all the other posts I’ve written this year. I truly appreciate the constant support and encouragement,
Next week, in the first FRIDAY FORAGE post of 2014, I’ll post my first in a chain of book reviews. So far, I only know of the first link in the chain, but it’s a good way for me to keep reading throughout the year.