I’ve heard it said by some of the greatest romance writers…they’ve never stopped learning their craft. They WILL never stop learning their craft.
It’s safe to say there are a myriad of reasons a writer should work on her craft:
1) She’s unpublished (there’s got to be a reason).
2) She’s published a book or two, but new sales have stalled (there’s got to be a reason).
3) She’s published, selling steadily, but can’t seem to achieve that next level (there’s got to be a reason).
4) She’s multiplished, hitting the lists, and wants to continue to do so (if she doesn’t keep growing there WILL be a reason she falls short of that goal).
I don’t care if you’ve written 1 book or 50…you have not mastered the craft. That’s like a dancer saying they know all the basic steps, or how the waltz is danced, or how the foxtrot is done, and believing they no longer have to practice or study new steps or harder steps. Sure, they can ballroom dance through life, but if they are really passionate about being on stage, they darn well better not stop learning. Especially if they want any gigs. Or, in the case of some of us, have had 1 or 2 gigs, but the callbacks have stopped coming.
The thing with learning is that you can hear something, but if it’s not applied, it’s useless.
It’s not enough to go to workshops and take copious notes. If you don’t review those notes later and APPLY THEM, there was no point. I have dozens of notebooks filled with notes from fabulous speakers that I know hold tremendous wisdom…that I’ve never looked at again, let alone really applied to my work.
It’s not enough to OWN craft books. You have to read them, glean from them and APPLY THEM. And tons of info is available on the web…no need to spend a fortune on craft books. Borrow them at the library. Ask friends to loan you some of their favorites. But keep in mind, if you keep hearing recommendations for a particular craft book over and over and over again, it might be worth the $$ to own your own copy.
It’s also not enough to own books in the genre you love and write in. You HAVE TO READ THEM! Does that one seem really silly to you? then you’re probably like me and this is not a problem. But there are writers who seem to feel that writing is more important than reading, and I have to completely disagree. I can’t not read for pleasure. I easily read a book a week or more, even at my busiest writing times. If you’re a writing reading only a few books a year, you need to rethink that strategy right now. As my friend, Serena, put it one day, a writer not reading is like a fashion designer not attending fashion shows. I added to that that it’s like a fashion designer not reading Vogue or never entering a clothing store. Makes no sense at all.
I’m going to touch base here more often and try to share some of what I’m learning in my quest to improve my craft. Hopefully you’ll get as much out of it as I have. And the way I figure it, if I get even the tiniest bit of APPLICABLE info out of my study of my craft (as long as I actually do the applying of it), I’m moving closer and closer to my goal.
It’s not enough that I’ve written 6 complete books and sold 1 of them if I never sell again. I’m going to make certain that that does not turn out to be the case.