Continuing our series on the Nine Pillars of the Writing Life, the second pillar is learning. As in never stop learning.
No matter what profession we’re in—law, medicine, auto mechanics, teaching, etc.—there are always new innovations, new tools, new techniques. Everything changes. The one thing we can be sure will never change is that change will always happen.
The same is true in the writing life.
There really is no excuse not to grow as writers. Opportunities abound in conferences, workshops, seminars and webinars. Do a Google search for writing conferences or Christian writing conferences and the list is astounding. There are genre-specific conferences. Workshops, seminars and webinars frequently focus on specific areas of writing such as creative non-fiction, character development, plotting, and so on.
Another way to keep learning is to stretch our writing muscles by writing in different disciplines. My primary genre is historical suspense. But I’ve written a contemporary novel and I’m currently working on a fantasy series. Doing this has expanded the way I create story worlds and characters, how I plot and write dialogue.
I write novels but I’m also experimenting with short stories and flash fiction. These require different techniques which I can use to make my novels better. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Blogs help me explore the world of non-fiction writing. Ghostwriting takes my non-fiction experience to whole new levels.
Get rid of the notion that there is a finite amount of knowledge about writing. In their books on the craft, authors like James Scott Bell and Steven James drill deeper into writing, revealing new ways to look at how we write that will help us get better. Re-reading craft books often opens my eyes to new insights into how to improve my writing.
We can never know it all. The day we think we do is the day we’re done, whatever our profession.
What helps you to keep learning as a writer?