Monday, May 3, 2010

Learning Curves

Learning curves.

We all have them.

In fact, we've spent a lot of time talking about them in the context of political races lately. But today I'd like to refocus a bit, onto learning curves in writing.

I don't know where you are in your journey to publication. Most days, I'm not sure where I am in my journey to publication. But I know I'm farther along than I was a month ago.

Its a great feeling to know that.

So, back to the point I was trying to discuss--simply writing is an opportunity to learn what does work, and what doesn't. But to be honest, I tend to learn a lot more from reading other people's work and discovering how they do things. Most of the time it's subconscious learning.

In my daily reading, I don't carefully look to see how an author accomplishes their goals. I read the memo, or the brief, or the treatise or the case and I try to digest and retain the needed information. When I read in bed for a half hour before lights out, I don't look carefully to see how the author has made their characters three dimensional, or how they've paced their story. I read to enjoy the story. To relax so I can sleep.

The beautiful thing is, I still learn from it. A week or two later, I might have an idea to try something else in my writing. Can I pinpoint where the growth comes from? Sometimes. Most times not. But regardless, I grow and learn in my writing. And getting farther along on my personal learning curve is a wonderful thing.

What about you guys?

Where do you learn about writing most from? Is it formal classes? Critiquing others? Simply reading? Or are you like me—every bit helps, but mostly you can’t pinpoint where you’ve picked up the extra knowledge—it’s just there for you to use?