My husband is a CPA. Every year, he’s required to take continuing education. CPE as it’s called.
I’m a writer. I have no such requirement on me. Instead, I have an obligation to take continuing education. We writers need WCE (writing continue education).
Why? To get better, to challenge yourself, to make sure you haven’t fell into a chasm of lazy and overconfidence. People who think they know it all just go sideways. Those continually learning have no place to go but up.
One of the best ways to find WCE is by going to a writing conference. I attended one recently and not only got my fill of education, but my batteries charged as well, to use a cliché. If you’ve been writing awhile, you know a lot of this stuff (plotting, structure, character development, etc.) but conferences help you remember why it’s important and to keep doing it if you’ve forgotten.
It also revs you up to hang out with other writers who share your passion. If you can’t afford to go out of town for a conference, there are good online writing education courses that are very reasonable. Check out Writer’s Digest for a start.
Professionals like accountants, attorneys and doctors must take continuing education to keep practicing their profession. Writers who take continuing education need it to keep their edge.
Patricia Santos Marcantonio
It never does get any easier. Writing, that is.
Sometimes, your writer’s brain feels like last week’s laundry. Sometimes, your fingers just refuse to move. Sometimes, you wonder what the heck you’re doing trying to tell a story.
What to do?
Try a writing prompt. I’ve been writing longer than I like to admit and these are valuable to stir me up. I like to call prompts another word—exercises. You exercise your body, so why not your craft?
My critique group and I have yearly retreats and use writing prompts for fun, for challenge, and for practice. Each year, I flesh out at least two short stories from the prompts, which basically give you something to write about. Sometimes you might have to write a scene with no dialogue, or all dialogue. To put yourself in someone’s shoes, or emphasize a specific emotion. They’re good when you need a kick in the pants.
Where do you find such prompts? They’re all over the place. Writer’s Digest.Com usually posts several for you to use. Recently they posted a column that you’ll find at http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-creative-writing-prompts-to-spark-your-writing?et_mid=612162&rid=22058720
Here is an example of one of the prompts. “You and your three closest friends decide to go camping. You arrive and set up camp nearly three miles away from where you left your car. Late that evening, as you sit around the campfire roasting marshmallows, one of your friends reveals a deep dark secret that turns what was to be a fun weekend into one of the scariest weekends of your life.” This one already has me intrigued.
Any good writing book will also contain prompts. One of the best I’ve found is “The Virginia Woolf Writers’ Workshop” by Danell Jones. I love this book because it offers writing “sparks” on everything from character development to the senses. Glimmer Train also has several books to prompt your pen or computer, as the case may be.
So flex those gray cells and stretch that imagination with a prompt.