Learning In Writing Not Like Other Skills…

From Dean Wesley Smith:

This came from a fun conversation with other writers today at lunch.

When you learn something in fiction writing, you can’t just take that learning and apply it like learning how to fix a pipe or do something in Photoshop. I wish sometimes it worked that way, but alas it does not.

So when you learn something from a writing book, or another writer’s work, or a workshop like we teach, you must do your best to understand it while learning it, then go back to writing and forget what you learned.

That’s right, forget it.

When you learn something about a craft area of writing, your creative voice already knows how to do it because it has been reading and absorbing story for your entire life. But your critical voice suddenly understands that skill, so the critical voice gives the creative voice permission to use it.

That is how fiction writing is learned.

But the hard part is getting the critical voice out of the way. It wants to use that new skill and that will freeze you down faster than anything.

So assure the critical voice that in the coming writing, at some point, when that new skill is appropriate to use, it will be used, and get the critical voice to forget it. You will notice you are using the skill stories or books later, often when some reader points it out.

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith

4 thoughts on “Learning In Writing Not Like Other Skills…”

  1. I have always favored the two-factor approach. First learn the skill. Second, aim in a specific direction and practice it. The practice can take lots longer than the learning.

  2. I no longer learn writing skills until I need them – then I go looking for a useful text version of craft, or several, study them, get it, and do my own version of…

    Just reading/learning doesn’t stick for me. But once I’ve used a skill myself, and understand how it works, it becomes part of the skillset, possibly needing refinement in new cases, but basically there to use.

  3. I will forever be grateful to New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have started on the journey that led me to write over 70 novels, 9 novellas, and around 230 short stories in a short 7 years (so far).

    My life changed when I finally woke up and decided I could probably trust this man completely when it came to writing advice. After all, he is a highly successful, prolific professional fiction writer who has published well over 200 novels (many of them with the old traditional publishing system) and probaby 1000 short stories in his over 40 years in the business.

    His wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, is no slouch herself. I have a strong suspicion the two of them might know what they’re talking about. That they’re willing to share their knowledge so freely is nothing short of remarkable. When they deign to speak, I shut up and listen.

Comments are closed.