Thursday, September 3, 2015

Learning Is A Never-Ending Process

When I teach a writing workshop on any topic, there is one statement I always make. You're never too old to learn. I usually see heads nodding in agreement.

The poster for today refers to all of life but on this blog, we concentrate on the writing life. If the advice spills over into the rest of your life, it's a bonus.

As a writer, you've probably done many of the things mentioned in the quote. Writers run into myriad roadblocks--not occasionally but on a regular basis. Meet each one head-on and deal with it as best you can. When you've gotten to the other side of that roadblock, ask yourself one question. What have I learned? If you have no answer, you'd better retreat several steps and work your way through the roadblock again. Then repeat the question.

Even writers who have attained multiple successes can still learn more about their trade. I don't think anyone can ever claim to know everything about the writing game. Writers who publish books on the writing craft can learn new things as they move down the writing path. They don't stop learning either.

There are often new ways to accomplish old tasks. As technology progresses, so must we. We read the classics but we know that our contemporary method of writing differs from some of those great authors. What would happen if a writer today wrote the amount of description that Charles Dickens used? With the great emphasis on keeping things short because of readers' lack of time, his books would probably be passed by today. Contemporary writers learned to keep it short. We've learned to hook our readers fast and keep them hooked. We've learned to cut the unnecessary words that tend to float happily into our prose.

We've learned that we must look for markets on a constant basis. We've learned that we must submit our work if it is to be published. We've learned to accept rejection. We've learned to create interesting characters that aren't stereotypes. We've learned how to put conflict into a story, even a children's story.

Yes, we've learned a lot but there is never an end to our writing world education. As long as we are putting words on paper or a screen, we should be learning. With each new writing project that you finish, ask yourself once more What have I learned?

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