In general I'm a great fan of the 'learning by doing' method, and that's how I tackle writing. Over the years I've applied the same approach to many other projects too. For instance, I designed and built the house I now live in. To do so I had to learn something like 15 different trades or professions, none of which I was trained in. Some went slowly, such as hand making all the doors and windows the old fashioned way with mortices, tenons and wedges (final count 210 panes of glass). Other skills were more easily picked up.
But I learned all of the necessary skills by pulling apart and studying what others had done before, either figuratively or literally, and then practising the tasks until I was competent. I worked on a demolition crew and pulled old houses apart. I also watched craftsmen at work. Then I added my own flavour to the houses I built. The first two sold in less than a week after I put them on the market. Original designs done in a traditional way seem to sell easily. The third we have kept.
I love acquiring new information, new knowledge, new skills and of course new friends. But I won't bore you with the very long list of other things that I've done by simply saying to myself "I'd like to try that, so how is it done?", and then prodding, poking, questioning, and crawling underneath things until I understand.
Your approach to learning is very much like mine, although I have never ventured far enough into the world to actually build a house! That's fantastic and quite admirable. I'd love to see your work. Do you have a website? Equally impressive is your approach to learning the skills needed to write. Stephen King took the same approach and look what he's accomplished.
My writing professors basically held your same belief: disregard everything you've been taught and simply write AND learn from other authors. There is "no correct" way to go about crafting a story however, to communicate your theme or message, one needs to know some simple rules. Which is why I always keep my "Elements of Style" within reach. Anything else I observe or learn is all icing on my cake. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" />
And everything that I've spouted here is not new information in the global sense. They are bits of suggestions I've learned from others. (I'm feeling a philosophical discussion on the rise). <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I could hardly say I know anything world-shattering 'new' but I suppose what makes everything unique is our individual perspectives and perceptions. And that's what intrigues me most about life. People simply fascinate me. Not in a judgmental way - but from a behavioral scientific point.
I have been in writing groups where the focus often ends on a particular writer's angst. That's time for me to bolt because I cannot relate to (nor do I care about) why one's bad mood, depression, horrid marriage or gawd awful job prevent them from writing. That's when the group dissipates into a non-alcoholic version of an AA meeting. (pardon the bad analogy but I'm working without the necessary grey matter). <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> I'm in that group to learn about writing - not why one's marriage is so lousy. If I wanted that, I could have formed my own 'lousy marriage' group. LOL So, it's not surprising that I agree with your message 100%.
Learning never ends, nor should it. The longer I live, the more I learn that I know very little about life. And I often times cringe when I look back at myself 15-20 years ago when I thought I was well on my way to 'ultimate knowledge'. In my 20's I was quite arrogant (as I look back on it) and probably seemed (to many wiser than me) as a know-it-all. However, now that the mirror's reflection has dulled, and I've been humbled by those who possess more compassion and knowledge than myself, I tend not to stare into it as much as I used to.
It's Sunday --- so forgive me if I'm not quite clear. LOL I turn my brain off on Friday and try not to flip the 'on' switch until Monday morning's wake-up alarm!
Thanks for posting, Kris. Your advice is golden and thought provoking.
Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />