I’ve long believed that a good writer entertains and teaches others, but a great writer is always learning and growing themselves. For those who simply want to get a book published to share their story or just to see their name bound on a book, it’s all right to stop learning after the first novel’s finished.
For those of us who want to be career writers, it’s essential to keep learning and developing our craft throughout our lifetimes. A writer who stops growing and learning stagnates. Their novels become stiff and dull and lacking in surprises. People stop getting excited about their next novel, if it even gets published. When you accept that you’ve reached a good place in your writing and you feel satisfied with that, you stop achieving and sometimes you even start going backwards. Creativity is a muscle of the mind, and it becomes weaker when we challenge it less.
If we can learn just one thing during the process of creating every novel, we can keep ourselves from stagnating. The only way for us to do this efficiently rather than accidentally is by intentionally challenging ourselves to become better and to learn more.
There are many ways we can challenge ourselves as writers. Our challenges can come from ourselves, from the internet or from our friends. The internet is one of the greatest resources for writing challenges that’s ever existed–through it you have access to thousands of prompts and group challenges.
If you’d like to shake up your writing and challenge yourself to learn something new, try one of these things:
- Write in a new genre.
- Write in a new format–plays, essays, poetry.
- Write a project without using a specific letter.
- Write about a place you’ve never been to.
- Write a first person piece about someone of the opposite sex or from a different culture.
- Write a persuasive piece you don’t agree with.
Every time you get stuck and you start to feel like you’re stagnating, come back and try one of these challenges. Not only will they inspire you to write something, but they’ll challenge you to become a better writer and help you learn the craft.
For those of you who’d like some structured help to challenge yourselves, I’ve decided to run a 7-day workshop at the beginning of June. I haven’t, on the other hand, picked a topic for the workshop. I’ve had several ideas bouncing around in my head, and I know which ones would be most fun or useful for me, but I want to make sure that I pick the one that will be most useful to you.
Please vote for the workshop you’re most interested in–and in the comments, if you’d like, please tell me why that workshop interests you the most.
My writing has hit a low point over the last couple of weeks. It would seem that it took a blow after I finished Moonshadow’s Guardian. The story had me completely entranced, and I’m already eager to begin the first rewrite. Currently I am playing the waiting game-with plenty of school work to distract me in the meantime-because I know that you should never start editing right away. However, rewrites are going to begin sooner than I originally planned; I need to rewrite this story, to make some very specific changes to it, to get it out of my system.
Some Secrets Should Never Be Known, as much as I love the story, will have to take the backburner for now. I know that I cannot currently give it the attention and time that it deserves. When, as a writer, you are told that you must write every day and move quickly from one project to the next, this kind of thing can be hard to admit-even to yourself. But it’s important to remember that every writer is different, every writer’s needs and strengths are different; there’s no one way to go about becoming an author.
Keeping this in mind I’m not going to yell at myself for not accomplishing much on the writing front this week; instead I’m going to do some research-reading a new book I bought about castles-and then jump right into the rewrite of Moonshadow’s Guardian.
Fiction isn’t the only thing that’s been hard for me in the last couple of weeks; the blog posts which were plentiful in my head at the beginning of the year seem to have dried up. I know I want to start a new series of blog posts for Friday mornings, but I have no idea what to focus on or where to begin. Sometimes writing really is like pulling nails, both on the fiction front and on the non-fiction front. Sometimes it means you have to push harder; other times it means you have to take a break.
As a blogger I have one advantage that lots of other writers don’t; I can ask you guys what I should write about next. This is my first poll and it will be up for a week. Come back next week to find out the results-and to see my shiny new series of posts.