It’s been said that there are two types of people in the world with enough frequency to establish there are, in fact, many more than two kinds of people. Somewhere between ‘absent-minded professor’ and ‘complete recluse’ (usually) lies the writer.
If you fall into that admittedly broad category, you’re probably familiar with the eternal conflict of being convinced you are The Greatest Writer Ever and spending every spare second trying to improve your craft enough to be even a passable author (if this conflict does not sound familiar to you, I hate you). For the majority of us, as writers, it’s a never-ending quest to gain more knowledge.
But it’s more than just taking in facts- not that random nuggets of information haven’t led to some fantastic works- but it must be with a goal in mind. There is always something more to learn about writing- not just grammar, but story construction, style, the list goes on forever. Nearly separate, yet intertwined at the same time, is your specialty- what you write about. I write primarily science fiction, and just keeping up with scientific advances in the real world takes a fair amount of time- to say nothing of trying to puzzle out where we might be 1,000 years from now.
One of the fantastic things about writely (that’s a word, be quiet) types is they are generally pretty willing to talk about writing and share what they’ve learned. The Chuckanut Writers Conference, and many like it, are prime opportunities to improve in all areas of writing.
As I mentioned, it’s fairly common for writers to be somewhat (read: entirely) reclusive, and things like this might be a little outside your comfort zone. I’m fairly social by nature, but when it comes to my writing, I generally like to be left well enough alone. But I know from that internal conflict that I need to improve and learning from those who have walked this path is the best way to do it. So, like me, it might take some resolve and perseverance, but I promise you: it’s worth it (and pretty easy once you get going).
This, to me, is one of the great things about writing- you always get to learn. Not like school-learning, which is regimented at the slowest possible pace in a system designed to hamper creativity (in my humble opinion), but learning what you want, what interests you and will benefit you. We get to channel that and share bits of it with others, but what we get to take in is pretty awesome.