People are born with raw talent every single day. They’re blessed at birth to share their gifts with the world. But even the most genius of individuals must continually develop their craft. At the age of fifteen, Leonardo Da Vinci became an apprentice of painter and sculpture Andrea del Verrocchio of Florence so he could perfect his talent. Albert Einstein with the help of his uncle, set a course of personal study and learning from the age of ten, which included intensive studying throughout summer vacation.
Author Ernest Hemingway perfected his writing by working as a journalist, a foreign correspondent, using his free time to develop his craft. Upon high school graduation, he went to work as a writer for the Kansas City Star. The news style of writing emphasized short sentences, short paragraphs, active verbs, authenticity, compression, and clarity.
“Those were the best rules I ever learned for the business of writing. I’ve never forgotten them.” ~ Hemingway
The author journey—and the sustainable journey of any professional—requires continually developing one’s craft. A bonus, according to an article in Forbes, “Lifelong learning can lead to a more fulfilling and healthier life.”
My point? You are never too talented, gifted, experienced, or old to learn. But I’m just an author, not a Pulitzer Prize winner. No excuses.
But don’t just take my word for it. Here are some of the reasons my fellow authors cite for developing the craft:
Engage with the writing community; we can all help each other. ~ Constance Hays Matsumoto, Of White Ashes author and writer of stories and poetry intended to influence positive change in our world.
Oftentimes, I have heard authors who are multi-published say they don’t attend workshops anymore because “there’s nothing more to learn” and I must disagree. I truly believe there is always something to learn, maybe not new, but more like a reminder of something forgotten. I am a published author and I still attend workshops, classes and conferences. Our craft is too important to our readers to not continually learn how to better our skills. ~ Sherrie Lea Morgan is a bestselling author of paranormal romances including the in-demand Lost Trinket Series.
Writing is an expression of life experience, emotion and continuous learning . For me, constantly opening myself to trying new things, meeting and connecting with new people, experiencing new cultures and pursuing knowledge in new areas is both stimulating and inspirational. Combine that with a dose of humility and vulnerability to share life’s highs and lows, that is the essence of storytelling that benefits others. ~ Dan Albaum is an inspiring author and servant leader driving impact for high growth organizations.
My love for learning came from my grandfather. He taught himself algebra and many other subjects. If you want to grow as a writer you need to 1) read books on the craft, 2) read books within your genre, 3) attend writers’ conferences and signup for talks, whether online or in person, 4) join Facebook groups that center around writing and/or publishing. You can learn so much from other authors who have been there before you. And from my experience, the majority of authors are the most generous people I know when it comes to sharing time to help others. Learn from them and learn from each book you read, each conference you attend. Even if you only learn one thing, that’s one thing more you can use, and one-by-one you hone your craft. ~ M.J. Schiller is a bestselling author of steamy romantic reads and just released her latest, Ten Minutes in the Sin Bin.
When I feel particularly stuck with my WIP, I look around for a writing class to take. There’s always some new way to plot or some new writing software or something fresh I need to learn about the craft of writing. I find that taking a class helps me to refocus on my WIP. Also, I find that mentoring other writers helps me to take a step back from my WIP and approach it with new eyes. Recognizing the issues with other people’s WIP helps you to recognize those same issues with your work. ~ Katie Graykowski is a #1 Amazon and international bestselling author of 20+novels, including the wildly popular romance series: The Lone Stars, The Marilyns, Texas Rose Ranch, as well as mysteries and YA.
The publishing industry and reader’s tastes are ever evolving. There’s a higher level of discerning tastes and expectations in reader’s preferences. The world is changing, and people are changing right along with it. This means, as an author, you (and I) need to change, learn, and grow to be relevant. As readers, we instinctively learn each day. Whether you’re reading a technical manual, a history book, or a romantic suspense, you’re learning something.
The author journey requires me to continuously learn. I need to know what I don’t know. Ahem, that’s a lot. While I’ll never master it all, I’ll make a dent. That dent results in better books and a more joy-filled writing process. I develop my craft in many ways. I participate in trainings offered by my professional associations, enroll in formal college coursework, actively engage in small author collectives, work with my mentors, and couple all of this with a disciplined regimen of reading and self-study. Enough said. If you want to be an author, you need to continuously learn.
Now it’s your turn. Share how you as an author, or writer, or reader, develop your craft?