by Tasha Seegmiller
This is my last post for Writers in the Storm. I can’t say forever, because forever is a long time, but I am stepping back as a regular contributor. I want to thank everyone who has commented on my posts in the past and those who have shared great insights. <3
I was recently in an online discussion concerning a new presenter in the MasterClass series. There were several people who were excited about the new presenter but wondered if the curriculum they would have access to would be too fundamental for their current level. It’s a valid question, in particular when it comes to a class that will require a $90.00 commitment.
About the same time, I attended a training where a psychology professor talked about progression, improvement, and learning. He discussed three areas that have to work in harmony with each other for learning to really have an impact: cognitive, behavioral, and affective.
While I could try and explain what each of those mean, it is easier to simply ask the questions he asked us:
- What do I know about ________?
- What do I do about ________?
- How do I feel about ________?
How this applies to writing...
Let’s break those down with some writing ideas. Ask the same three questions and substitute one of the following:
- Character development
- A particular character (especially if feedback indicates that character is weak)
- Sentence structure
- Setting/World Building
- Internal Arcs
- Emotional Arcs
- Fill in the blank with the ominous part of writing that you love to hate.
Doing this practice will give us a baseline of things to consider. I don’t recommend focusing on this too deeply while in the midst of drafting – deep analysis and intentional creation can make a brain go nuts. But, if you are an outliner, this kind of practice could work well before starting.
If you lean more in the “write as I go” or the “figure it out later” camp, this is the kind of consideration that works well before launching into an edit.
And in the interim? Well, ask the next series of questions.
- What do I want to know about ________?
- What do I want to do about ________?
- How do I want to feel about _______?
The nature of some of these questions may also take you into the authorial parts of being a writer accompanying the ideas about craft.
In addition to the writing ideas listed above, consider the following:
- Book swag
- Building an author website
- Pitching a conference class/panel
- Entering contests
- Writing a synopsis/pitch/query letter/blurb
- Guest posting
- Book events
At this point, most writers are able to break down where they are strong and where they need some help. Essentially, we are able to place our knowledge and awareness on various places within the four stages of developing a skill.
And this brings me back to the original paragraph in this post. Are we ever at the point where taking a class wherein basic writing skills are taught wouldn’t be beneficial?
Well, that depends on individual answers to the following questions:
- Relative to what I knew about ________, what do I know now?
- Relative to what I was doing, how do I do/create/engage with ______________ now?
- Relative to what I felt about __________, how do I feel now?
Sometimes, the value of taking a class that might be basic presents a new way to think about something that has eluded us for a while. And sometimes, the value of taking a class that might be basic is that we get to really see how we have grown. Word count is great for lots of things, but taking time to reflect and understand what we have learned needs to have its place as well.
There are several ways writers can continue to learn, whether through reading blogs like this one, books about craft and creativity, online courses like MasterClass, or workshops. The key is to keep learning and to continue reaching.
Because, as we have heard, just because a writer figures out how to write one book doesn’t mean the knowledge transfers seamlessly to subsequent efforts.
What have you done to continue to grow as a writer? How do you like to recognize your growth? Please share your story with us down in the comments!
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Tasha Seegmiller writes about womanhood, families, mental wellness, and faith. She is a graduate of Pacific University’s MFA program and teaches composition at a regional university in the high mountain desert where her husband and three kids live.