15 August 2008

Back to School: how to keep learning about writing

This is the time of year when children are frantically active, trying to cross those final summer tasks off their list before their parents gleefully pack them onto the bus to go [DRAMATIC MUSIC] back to school!

And while many of us are happy to send the kids off to school while we maintain our routines, others of us may miss the days of schoolbooks and notepads, desks and reading assignments. And the writers of us know it's important to keep learning about writing even if we think we have a pretty good understanding of the craft.

There are lots of ways to continue learning about writing after graduating from college.

Take a continuing education class. Lots of colleges offer writing courses for adults that meet once or twice a week for as few as six weeks or as long as a semester. These courses are designed to help you brush up on an area or give you a base understanding of a new area.

Join a message board/forum. Writers can learn from writers. By joining and posting on a forum, you can ask questions from writers who may have gone through the same things as you, and get up-to-the minute responses from people in the industry.

Read, read, read. Not only should you read other authors in your genre, but don't skip the Writing/Publishing section at Barnes & Noble, either. Lots of successful writers go on to publish books offering advice to other writers, and these books can give you great information on specific questions you may have about writing.

Go to a writing workshop. These events offer the opportunity to network with others in the writing industry, attend talks and lectures, and even have manuscripts looked at by agents and editors. What's better, some of the connections you make at workshops are friendships that continue afterward, giving you support as you write.

Keep writing. Pianists don't learn to play and the only play when they have concerts. So why would writers only write when they're working on a novel or an upcoming article? Writing, like any other craft, requires practice. Keep a journal, and use it to scribble little scenes or character sketches or whatever comes to mind. Barnes & Noble has writing exercise books/workbooks to help spark your creativity and keep you writing.

Whatever else you do, keep learning. Writing is not just talent. There are techniques that can (and should) be learned, information that can be absorbed, and above all, remember writing is a craft. It should be treated as a craft.

Keep learning.

And happy scribbling.

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