Monday, April 12, 2010

Growing in Your Craft

IN THE NEWS: Guinea pig touted as solution to Congo food crisis. Read more HERE.


Hey, all! I had a fantastic spring break! Very busy, though. I planned and hosted a birthday tea party for an eight year old, did a few day trips with the family, and started an online writing class.

Whoa, let's look at that last one again. Yes, I started an online writing class. In fact, I'm doing A MONTH LONG one hosted by author Camy Tang on Characterization.

So far, it's been really great for me!

I'm a firm believer that every writer--aside from maybe the Nora Roberts and Stephen Kings of the world--should look to grow in their craft.

How?

1) Well, there are many books to read on the subject of writing. (My favorites are by James Scott Bell and Noah Lukeman) .When I read a great writing book, I try to absorb as much as possible. The only problem is once the book is put down, I don't always remember to utilize what I just read.

(Unless I read it more than once or I blog about it, which then crams it in my head again) :)

2)Many writers also go to conferences and take workshops. When I take a workshop that I enjoy, I take tons of notes. I'm all excited until I get home and I look at my notes. That's when it all looks foreign to me and I have to try and remember what I was so excited about.

3)Now with the Internet, there are many more options available like webinars and online conferences. In fact, one is the Muse Online Conference. Webinars and online conferences are much the same as actual conferences--minus the face to face networking and schmoozing. :) You can go in with very specific questions at any time during the day and from the comfort of your own home.

4)All those are wonderful resources that I DO take advantage of, but I have to say there is something just a little bit different about doing an actual writing class--online or in person. I'm thinking it's the homework accountability and the actual application of what is being taught that makes it just a little bit better than the other options mentioned. It's perfect for the well-intentioned writer (AKA me) who has writing workbooks on my nightstand that are still untouched.


I am actually being "forced" to apply homework lessons to my work-in-progress and post for the author and others. I can then see what I need to work on and what I totally have a handle on. So far, I'm finding I'm really liking this kind of hands-on approach. (Although right now, I'm behind in the homework!) :)


Do you have another way that you use to grow in your writing craft?
What do you find most useful for you?

32 comments:

Diane said...

So glad you signed up and it is helping you.

The guinea pig thing was a little too much to think about this early in the morning. :O)

www.dianeestrella.com

Terri Tiffany said...

Good for you for taking it! I think one other way I learn is by letting others read my work and then really looking hard at what at their suggestions:)

Linda Kage said...

Sounds like fun. Can't wait to hear a report about what you learned.

Tamika: said...

I agree that as writers we have a responsibility to grow our craft. I need to do more to develop my skills, besides reading.

Great points. The Muse Conference sounds like a great start.

Kristen Painter said...

I'm learning a lot by working with my Orbit editor. There's nothing that really compares to that kind of experience.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Excellent tips for growth and oh, I LOVE to grow.

I read fiction, non-fiction, magazine articles. Absolutely any and everything I can get my hands on. Often, beautiful writing inspires me before I sit down to write.

~ Wendy

Susan R. Mills said...

I'm thinking of signing up for an online class for that very reason--accountability. Having homework would keep me working on the craft for sure.

patti said...

I love the guidance of critique partners--and I love the encouragement of bloggers like you.

Blessings,
Patti

Julie Jarnagin said...

I've learned a lot reading blogs by published writers, agents and editors. Plus, it's a quick way to get a little education every day.

Sarah Forgrave said...

I agree with your assessment! I took two online writing courses recently, and I gleaned SO much from the application and accountability.

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

That sounds awesome! Glad to have you back in the blogosphere. And also glad your break was a good and productive one!

Stephanie said...

How exciting! I bet it'll be awesome. I wish I had taken it with you!

Laura Pauling said...

I bet Camy's onlines courses are great.

Recently, I've been reading books strong in area that I want to learn and as I read I focus on that aspect whether it's internal thoughts or transitions or chapter endings...

Jessica Nelson said...

A class sounds awesome! I've always liked school. :-)
Books aren't so good for me when it comes to learning. I've never been a studier.
I hope you keep on enjoying your class!

Palindrome said...

I'd like to think I'm growing although I am too behind on my homework. I love reading writing books and trying different exercises just to test myself. I love a good challenge, especially when it comes to writing.

When I was in school to be a MT, it was mentioned numerous times that any medical profession is a practice because you are constantly learning. That's how I like to think of my writing, it's a practice. Even when (notice the forward thinking) I'm published, I will continue to practice writing because you can always improve, even on a good thing.

Great post! I'm going to go the that website now and find myself a class.

E. Elle said...

Great suggestions.

One of the best ways to grow in your craft is to just keep doing it. But I enjoy reading books on writing and talking with other people about writing; it gets me all fired up and ready to work.

Elaine AM Smith said...

What a great idea. It is always interesting to hear anyone talking about how they write. Listening would be a great insight into the writing process.

Clarissa Yip said...

Glad you're enjoying the class! At least you're utilizing the lessons. Have fun!

Piedmont Writer said...

That's great. Go you writer self!

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Yay for you! I'm glad you had a great Spring Break!

Kimberly Franklin said...

I can't wait to hear about what you learn. Happy Monday and go you!!

Jen said...

What fun!!!! I'm glad you had a fantastic break!

Karen Lange said...

Wonderful advice. Have fun with your class!

Jemi Fraser said...

I just haven't had time to take an online course, but there are several I'd love to try :)

sherrinda said...

I took Camy's Synopsis class last month and learned so much! I really wanted to take the Characterization class, but it just wasn't feasible for me at this time.

She is an excellent instructor and has a knack for helping you "see" what you need to learn. I had so many "Aha" moments during the class I took. ;)

Happy Homeworking!!!

Lynn said...

I am with you 100% Jennifer. I'm working one course at a time toward my professional writing degree and, although I whine about it at times, the homework, applying the principles along with accountability to hand the assignments in on time, is what makes the lessons stick, and change my writing for the better. Have fun with the course!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Like you, Jennifer, I believe a writer needs to constantly grow. When we stop growing, we start dying both as a writer and as a human being.

I discovered your blog when reading Dawn's PLOTTING & SCHEMING. I hope you don't mind me dropping by. And good luck with your online writing class.

As a courtesy only I am providing a link to my blog WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS just in case you might want to visit.

http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Great tips! I just went to a writers' conference this weekend and am doing that deciphering notes things, lol. Why can't they all just give handouts?

Kristi said...

Oh cool! I hope you'll post more about how your class is going...I'd love to do something like this!

I'm pretty good at reading books on the craft, but I've never tried anything else and I'm dying to. I can see how there would be a tremendous benefit!

Tess said...

Oh, yes, I agree. I love a good conference. It provides instruction AND inspiration. A perfect combo :)

Diane Marie Shaw said...

May have to consider an online conference in the future.
I belong to a writer's guild, Words for the Journey that meets weekly. There is always a lesson and critiques. It is like having a workshop every week. I learn so much.

Dawn Simon said...

Good for you, taking a class. You're right--there is something cool about an actual week to week class that teaches you craft stuff then holds you accountable to apply it. I personally love all of the above, all the things you named. I'm super lucky because our local SCBWI puts on an incredible conference every year. I was there last weekend! :)