At different times I’ve considered writing to be my hobby, my dream, my passion, and my profession, and while all of those labels are accurate; I think writing has also become a very unique form of education, a program where I am both the student and the instructor.
For many, reading is a leisurely activity, but what about when you’re reading a story so that you can write a review? When I’m reading for a review, I move much more slowly. For each chapter I write a brief summary, noting the major events, conflicts, and any striking characteristics of the writing, positive or negative. It’s an in-depth analysis that helps me perceive how scenes build up towards larger patterns, creating overarching themes and motifs.
Similarly, nonfiction can be entertaining. I’ve certainly enjoyed learning how other professions practice their craft, but it’s always casual. I never worry about retaining the information, in contrast with when I’m learning more about writing. I take copious notes, and as part of my process I read over my notes, consolidating them into something more comprehensive. In some ways the product resembles my own textbook on writing and storytelling, though I doubt it will ever be “complete”.
Once I started blogging I found many new sources of articles and ideas, as well as the opportunity to discuss and debate with others via comments. Granted, writers’ groups provide some opportunity for discourse, but anyone who takes the time to write a blog post about a topic definitely has something to say. Through comments we’re able to have a lively discourse, evolving our understanding of the topic.
Writing stories remains the core of it all, the reason behind all the rest, but the need to continue learning, analyzing, and discussing cannot be overlooked. Taken together, I’m struck by how “writing” becomes much more than a solitary activity, or even a symbiotic relationship built on mutual support and constructive feedback. It’s a program of study reminiscent of those found at colleges and universities. The most striking differences are the fact that the program never ends, and that we are both student and professor. We determine our own curriculum, and we set the bar which we ourselves must meet if we are to complete a specific “course of study”.
What do you think?
Do you ever feel like you’ve enrolled yourself into a program?
Do you ever feel like you’re in the middle of a “class” or “study” on a specific aspect of writing?
This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.