After eight years off, I recently resumed riding horses. I’m still relatively proficient — I can walk, trot, canter, pop over small jumps, and perform some simple dressage moves. I’ll never ride in the Olympics, probably never even compete locally again, so my skill set is fine for my needs. Yet, I’m taking a weekly lesson in addition to my free riding time in order to improve.
Lessons are nothing new to me. When I rode BC (before children) I took weekly, sometimes twice-weekly, lessons. For years. Even though I had a horse and barn of my own, and very little disposable income. When I couldn’t afford to pay for them, I worked out a swap in sweat equity or stall space or whatever else I could trade.
Why spend so much time and money on a hobby?
Because even if I can’t be Karen O’Connor, I can become a better rider. Because I love riding. Because riding makes me a calmer, happier person, and if it does all that for me, I owe it to myself to ride as well as I can.
Substitute ‘writing’ for riding in the paragraph above (or, if you are from Massachusetts like me, just say them both really fast and they’ll sound identical) and we have today’s post.
Do you love writing, even if you’ll never be the next J.K. Rowling? Does it enrich your life? Have you mastered a basic level of proficiency but want to get better?
Then what are you doing about it?
There are lots of classes for writers just starting out on their fiction journey. But once you’ve written a book, once you’ve got the idea of plot and character development, it can be harder to find a place that will help you improve. And I’ve noticed that most published authors are scarce at workshops, unless they are there as presenters. Partly that’s because many workshops are geared toward beginner writers, but I also think that once you’ve captured the elusive agent/editor/book contract, there’s a stigma against admitting you don’t know it all. If you aren’t the perfect writer, why should anyone bother to read you?
My belief is that if you aren’t consistently striving to get better, your books aren’t worth your readers’ time. Here are some of the strategies I use: