Lessons, lessons…

IWSGIt’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Sometimes, the best writing lesson in the world propels my insecurities forward, because I should’ve known it, right? I did know it. It’s such a simple, basic lesson. Why didn’t I use it in my WIP?

I’ve been writing for over ten years. I have a dozen short stories and three novels published, and the number of my published newspaper articles is climbing towards 300, not counting self-publishing, so why do I sometimes still feel like a first grader?

Let me explain. I’m a subscriber to Jennifer Crusie’s blog ArghInc. Crusie is one of my favorite writers; I adore her books and I love her blog. When she started another blog, Writing Romance, specifically for writing lessons in romance genre, of course I subscribed to it. The lessons are great, concise and expressive, with Crusie’s typical dry wit, but every time a new lesson comes up on the blog, I think: why don’t I already employ this in my own writing? What she says is so obvious, almost common sense. Why do I still struggle with the concept in my current story?

One of the lessons was about conflict and characters. I read it and I thought: that’s why my story doesn’t work. I have to apply this particular lesson, find out what one of my characters wants, and who/what is standing in his way, but instead, I approached my story the same way I always do: intuitively, playing the whole tale in my mind like a movie for one and relishing the fruits of my imagination. Of course, it didn’t work. Now that I’m applying this lesson, the story started to shape up, but why didn’t I do it before? The lesson is not anything new. I was aware of it. Why didn’t I use it?

Does it happen to you? You know the theory but for some reason you don’t utilize it in your writing practice, until a clever teacher comes along and prods you into action?

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12 Responses to Lessons, lessons…

  1. Yes, I’ve had that happen before, in terms of not putting theory into practice enough. Sometimes I just don’t know what I was thinking. I’ve never visited Jennifer Crusie’s blog, but I’ll definitely go check it out. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. cheriereich says:

    I feel your pain. Every time I read craft-related posts, I always find something to think of what I should be doing. Of course, sometimes I then realize I am doing it but maybe not as clearly as I should be or with as much purpose as I should be. Thanks for talking about the site. I’ve bookmarked it.

  3. I learn all my lessons the hard way. Stubborn as a mule, but I’m always open to learning. 🙂

  4. I’m exactly like Yolanda (only she’s the opposite sex and our names are different) but I was horrible in school and I’m horrible when people try to tell me something 🙂
    I should have gone into *show* business … then maybe my jokes would be better 🙂

    Happy writing, Olga 🙂

    Best regards,

    Mark (IWSG co-host, author and certified slacker:)

  5. Diane Burton says:

    You can’t get much better than learning from Jenny Crusie. She’s one of my favorite authors, too.

  6. Loni Townsend says:

    Yep, happens to me all the time. I’m always blown away when people have awesome advice about writing. I just wish I could learn them all. 🙂

  7. Knowing the theory and putting it into practice are two different things. That’s why as writers we are always learning and relearning and relearning again.

  8. Widdershins says:

    I think we can hear something a gazillion times but until we hear it in a way that catches our attention, it’s not going to stick. Glad to hear it stuck this time. 😀

  9. dolorah says:

    i have many of those moments. The light is on, nobody home, and then I come across something that makes perfect sense, and I have no clue how I missed it. I think I should subscribe to this blog for the lessons too.

  10. doreenb8 says:

    I have those moments all the time. I hope I never lose my desire to keep learning and improving my craft. This is a great career for people like me who are easily bored:)

  11. Denise Covey says:

    Yes Olga, I’m hearing you. I devour writing books and articles on writing, but like you, it’s difficult to see where we’re going wrong at times. I love blogs like Cruisie’s too.

    Denise 🙂

  12. Definitely. I’ll read a post or article and start trying to figure out if I’ve been doing that or if I have horribly failed at it.

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