Wednesday, June 03, 2009

When to Learn and When to Write

When I first began writing, I never once thought about "learning" the craft. I had a knack of sitting at a blank screen thinking of a first sentence and then just writing, writing, writing and seeing how the story developed on its own. I could spin a story of 1500 words in less than an hour. Writing was fun!

Then a yearning began deep in my heart to write a novel. I'd already written the beginning of a scene a few years prior--a scene that haunted me. From that scene, I wrote Hit and Run. I spent many hours glued to the computer, typing and being surprised by the story which developed until THE END came at page 347 a short three months later. That's when I discovered "writer's groups" existed. Wow! I could take classes on-line and learn how to become an author!

Thus began a "muddling of the mind." So many rules. So many do not's. Immersed in learning my craft, I kept revising and revising my novel. Soon, I became so confused I lost my enthusiasm for getting published. How could I write with all these rules and guidelines squeezing my brain? My writing shelf overflowed with "how to" craft books. Many contradicted another. Egads!

At this point, I could have quit. But, I stepped back and realized that all the classes and all the books had something I could use. I only had to learn what worked for me. Each writer is unique. Each writer approaches the craft in a different way. Thank goodness! No one would read if each of us produced the same type of story every single time.

Writing is a solitary process. I need the comaraderie of fellow writers to keep me motivated and inspired--to help me know I'm not alone. I need to take a class or read a book, if it appeals to me, but I also need to write. In order to write, I need to forget all the so-called rules and let the story flow. For me, turning off the internal editor can be difficult. However, that's when my best comes out.

Here's my advice. Take classes, read books, learn the craft, but don't turn yourself into a perpetual student. Write, write, write. Apply what you've learned in the editing process. Separate the two things. It won't be easy, but it is necessary. Soon, you'll find yourself following the "important rules" unconsciously.

Don't lose the joy of writing.

Thanks for stopping by!

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