Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Learn to Write

I have a quote on my wall that says,


“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Hemingway

The more I think about this, the more I realize it is true.  We are all apprentices.  We are all in the process of learning.  I think this is one thing that separates people who like to write from writers.  Real, honest to goodness writers learn.

We don't just sit back and say, "Well, that's it.  The first draft is done, now to find the perfect publisher."  Unfortunately, in that case, the only publisher will probably be a self publisher.  It's sad but often true.

No, true writers, honestly want to put time and energy into the craft of writing and take time to learn.  They buy books or at least check them out from the library.  (I have my two favorite writing books in paperback and use the library for the rest.)  They participate in critique contests and follow the best of the writing blogs.  They take the time to learn about their craft.

So how do you learn to be a good writer?  How do you study this?  I've already listed a few ways.  Take classes, read books on writing, follow writing blogs.  There are a lot of them.  Read.  Write.  And study.
Now, I'm in school, so I know about studying.  I know about notes and flashcards and cram sessions before the big test, but how do you study if you don't know materials are being covered.  This is my suggestion for learning this about writing on your own.  And remember, children and adults all learn better when they learn things for themselves.

For the purposes of this post, we are going to pretend we're trying to learn how to write a pitch.

Step 1.  Get a Goodreads account.
     It doesn't actually have to be Goodreads, but get something like that such as Shelfari.  Something that lets you record and rate the books you have read.

Step 2.  Rate and Read Tons of Books
     Find books that you loved and say so.  Put them in one place online so that you can see a list of good and bad books quickly.

Step 3.  Find the Books Relevant to what You're Trying to Learn
     For pitches, this is not hard.  The back cover or inside flap are part of all books, but if you're looking for how to deal with time travel, you're going to want to shift through your good and bad books to find the ones on this topic.

Step 4. Read.  A Lot
      Read the back cover copies.  Read five and try your hand at one for your own book.  Take a break.  Catch up on piano practice.  Read five more back covers or internet blurbs and try to write another one of your own.  Rinse and repeat.

Step 5. Write Down Your Findings
     What did you learn about back covers?  What did you learn about writing time travel?  What are some good and bad ways to do both.


The end.  That's all I can think of right now.  I'm off to go read back cover copies.  See ya!


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