Writing in Public, Too: Day 23 - The Writer as Student
First day back at work, so up at 5:30, showered, dressed,and out the door by about 6:30. WITH some food in my stomach, which is always a plus. Work is long, hard, and tiring. Physically, mentally...emotionally. But I did manage a lunch break today, and I DID manage to put in 300 words on a story during lunch. In a lot of ways, that made a big difference for my afternoon. Just being able to get out of my head and into a character's (Andy's, in this case) for a short while helped make things better afterwards. Work ran late - nothing new there. Was out the door by 4:30, and home by 5pm. Changed, relaxed a little bit, skimmed through some emails... Dinner was mac and cheese for the kids (Susan started it, then I served) and random bits for her and I. Just a tired night, everyone still recovering from being ill last week and tired. After dinner, I did something I hadn't done in a little bit: I sat down with a book. Not just any book, but a book on writing (actually, have two I am reading right now.) More on that in a moment.
Watched an episode of our show with Susan at 9:30, after putting the kids to bed and finally settling the youngest. After it was over, I popped on and got in a couple hundred more words. Not a huge wordcount day, but that's all right. Not every day will be. Writing this post and then off to bed.
The Writer as Student
I think that, too often, writers focus on working very hard at learning - the wrong things. I got to conferences, and writers pile into sessions on marketing, but the sessions on craft? Not so much. I see tons of thread on LinkedIn about "how can I promote my book?", and precious few about "how can I make my next book better?"
One thing I've tried to do over time is work at pushing myself. I do NaNoWriMo every year (and have succeeded every year I tried except 2012, when I was in the middle of moving us all from Vermont to Boston all month!) not because I can't put out 50k words in a month without it, but because I use it as a chance to experiment. Every year, I use NaNo as a chance to try something different. To push myself in a new way. To learn the craft of writing a little better.
My hope is that everything I produce is just a little better than the stuff I wrote before it. And I hope that is ALWAYS true. That I can keep on learning, and improving over time.
Yeah, I read some books on marketing stuff on occasion. But I honestly feel like the marketing is less important than the craft. Because if I write good stories, even if thousands of readers aren't finding them right away, those stories are out there. And readers can find them. And do find them. There's a lot of time for readers to find a good story. And if they find a good story, they might pass it along to someone else, too.
I guess you could say I am reader focused. Because if I'm always striving to tell the best story I can for my readers, then I feel like I'm doing my job as a writer well. And if I'm always improving my ability to tell those tales, then I am getting better at giving my readers what they are looking for - and what I have promised them. Great fiction.
That's what it's all about, folks.
So things which bring me closer to that particular mountain are good. And one thing I do, from time to time, is read books on the craft of writing by great writers who've gone before. I have several awesome ones, and some not so great that still gave me a little something worth the read. Writing is still the best way to learn, but there's a lot to be gained from reading books on the writing craft as well.
Do you have any favorite writing books? A few of mine are "The Writer's Journey", King's "On Writing", Brooks's "Story Engineering", and of course "Of Worlds Beyond", where Heinlein's Rules were first printed. There's a few other great ones on my shelves, too. I'd love to hear yours.
Totals for Day 23
Daily Fiction Wordcount: 500 words Month to date fiction: 32900 words
Daily Blog Post Wordcount: 751 words Month to date blog posts: 13710 words