Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Self-educated Writer

     Here's something interesting that I learned a long, long time ago at a conference:  There I was, recommending a book to a writer that dealt with a particular craft element she was trying to understand.  That writer then said something to the effect that she never used how-to books, she wanted to learn as she wrote.  Okay, I thought to myself, to each their own.  However, I would rather learn from those who know and who are willing to share their knowledge in a book (or workshop) that teaches (not preaches) because I, personally, don't have years to waste going around in circles.
      With the ever-changing publishing industry, now more than ever a writer must become a proficient self-editor and a savvy user of the devices and techniques of fiction and storytelling.  That means educating oneself by taking classes, going to workshops, going to conferences, and reading how-to books.  Correction--don't just read those how-to books, STUDY them so the learning curve goes from 5% to 85-95%.  It's a fact that when a person reads a book or attends a workshop, they walk away with only 5% of the knowledge given--unless they take copious notes.  Which means, to up the retention, note-taking is a must as is creating personalized "cheat sheets" to ensure the technique or device is learned and correctly used.  Not an easy task by any means because a lot of the craft elements require weeks, months, or even years to master. 
     After all, a person who has never jogged once around the block doesn't sign up for the Boston Marathon the day before the race.