Friday, June 30, 2006

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks?

G.Ellen

Ever feel like stretching your abilities as a writer is like teaching an old dog new tricks? I think most of us feel that way. You have written a certain way for so long, changing something about it is automatically the wrong thing. It’s scary. It’s the unknown.

When we take writing classes or attend seminars, we are taking that chance. I attended a writing conference once with the idea that I wasn’t sure what I was going to learn. I felt I had pretty much polished my abilities and was just biding my time until a publisher snatched up something I had produced. What a big head, huh?

Boy, did my eyes get opened. It was as if someone had dumped me in a pool of cold water and told me I’d been swimming the wrong way. It was as if my eyes were forced to see all the things I had been ignoring about my writing that needed to be changed, or could be changed to make it better. We can always use information and advice. That is something writers always seek, if my association with writers bears out the rest of them. We are always seeking for better ways to express ourselves, or better information to add fact and foundation to our plot.

Knowledge.

Knowledge is the key to all writing, and what separates great writing from the poor stuff we occasionally find. The books we have all picked up after reading and thought, “Gee, I could do way better than this!” You can. And if you are doubting yourself, it just takes exposure and practice. Like everything else.

It’s like trying to teach an old dog new tricks. Sometimes it just takes a bigger and better treat. What kind of treat drives you? What is it that will take your writing to the next level? Just something to contemplate as you write. Are you writing the best you can? Or could a seminar or class be something you need to kick-start the next association that gets you noticed by an editor or agent? I don’t think any of us are too old to find out.

1 comment:

KB said...

I hadn't taken a writing seminar/class in years, but I did the Novel Prep Class through latterdayauthors.com this month. It was a wonderful experience. And through that class, I have created one of the strongest, most vital and intriguing characters I have ever written about. It was great. I highly recommend brushing up skills and learning new tricks with a class on a regular basis.