Writers are desperate people. When they stop being desperate, they stop being writers.
In this day and age, one can have a college major in Creative Writing. What a novel concept! To think, you can go to college studying and learning more about what you love doing. I’ll be the first to admit that I originally scoffed at the notion. Nobody consciously wants to join the “starving artist elite”, so why spend so much time and valuable money in a boring classroom?
I’m what you call a self-learner. I become intrigued with something and dig up a bunch of resources to learn about it. I taught myself the majority of my art skills, the Continental knitting technique, and much of what I know about writing and self-publishing. My teachers have been books and the good, new Interweb. When I heard about people going to college for Creative Writing, I thought, What’s creative about college?
Let’s talk about studying.
The thing is, not everyone learns the same way or at the same pace. While I can pick up what I need through reading and scavenging, another writer might struggle with that harried approach. So why not learn everything you can in college? You’ll get a fancy degree which looks great on a resume, and you have a wealth of structured information at your fingertips. You’ll discover opinions from a professor’s point of view, or from your classmates. You’re mind will be broadened. You may discover something I would never be able to find no matter how long I stumbled about. This is the Twenty-First century. Take advantage of every resource available.
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There are some writers, writers I have met, who have become stagnant in their stream. They’ve allowed the current to push them into a little pool where they float around and around creating the same circle of foam and sediment. They’ve stopped learning. They’ve stopped caring. In fact, if you were to show them exactly what they were lacking in their writing, they would become defensive, up-tight, and bitter. My advice is to leave them alone. Don’t waste your breath on someone who doesn’t want to learn.
Now a writer who can see and admit their flaws is a diamond in the rough. I don’t care if you write a thousand books, there is always something to be learned, or even re-learned. You will always need to edit, always need to study, always need to brush up on your craft. Read books you would never read otherwise. Follow blogs giving out free tips and advice (this is not a plug for my blog. Okay, it’s a small plug). Go to the library, or buy books about the English language, grammar, and writing. You don’t even need to read these cover to cover; learn one new trick every time you pick one up and you’ll be better for it.
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Be desperate in your desire for better. There is an old saying that good is the enemy of better. You don’t want to be good. You don’t even want to be best, because best assumes you’ve learned all there is to know, and that assumption usually precedes an ugly ego. Stephen King said it well when he said writers need to stay humble. Be humble and strive to become better.
I’ll compile some books and blogs that I find useful. In the meantime, if you know of any as well, post them in the comments. Some desperate soul will thank you for it.
Until next time, this has been,
Fanny T. Crispin
Compilation of Information
Writing on the Right Side of the Brain by Daniel Mega
The Writing Nut ~ Blog
Goins Writer ~ Blog, Jeff Goins (He also has a plethora of free ebook downloads)
The Write Practice ~ Blog, Joe Bunting (Includes writing prompts and invaluable information)