I’ve been a professional writer for a while now. It’s been long enough that I would need to do serious mental calculations to work out the exact time. But, even and especially as you get deeper into this, there’s no reason to ever stop learning new writing techniques.
Writing is a complicated endeavor. It’s difficult to use language to trick the brain into imagining a whole new thing. And it’s even harder to do so in such a strong way that the readers have no choice but to come into the world.
It’s a skill. And like all skills, practice and learning new things about it can only make you improve.
But the nice thing about writing is that it’s an old art form and one with a lot of phenomenal people involved with the craft. And, even more fortunately, a lot were nice enough to write down what works. And a lot of modern writers have been nice enough to take those principles and update them for the modern-day.
And, yes, before you ask, I do have several of my own books on that subject. I like to think I’m part of that grand tradition. But this is not me trying to self-promote. What I am trying to promote is that you go read some of those non-fiction books out there. As many as you can.
That’s what I’ve been doing. Recently, I’ve adopted the mindset of if I need a specific answer for something—writing or otherwise—I just devour as much media on the subject as possible. Videos, articles, podcasts, books, and everything else sucked down as quickly as I can.
And though some will have nothing for the specific problem, I find it still helps. Simply attacking the issue, feeding the mind with related answers, can lead to solutions. Knowledge gained expands creativity, even if the knowledge is a non sequitur.
So, though it is old advice, this is my advice to you: if you’re stuck, look for answers. If you can’t find the answers, look for similar questions. If you can’t find anyone asking those questions, then go back to the fundamentals. For writers, go study story structure again, or pacing, or characterization. You might find you knew the answer. You just needed a new way to frame the thought and organize it into a personal solution.
Special thanks to: Melissa Potter
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Going back to basics when nothing else helps is a great idea. It’ll do me good to revisit the things I think I know just to better my craft. Thanks for this post!
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You’re very welcome!