Yesterday, author Jody Hedlund had a blog post about why most writers are blind to their own faults. The first reason she mentioned really resonated with me: We naturally view our work through our maturity level.
When we first start any new project, writing or otherwise, we don’t know what all we don’t know. This limitation can be frustrating.
We don’t know the right questions to ask to learn more, and we overestimate our skills because we don’t know all the pieces we’re missing. It’s a classic case of not being able to step back and see the big picture.
I’ve lost count of all the times I thought I finally knew what I was doing only to discover more holes in my knowledge. I’ve often wished for a way to zoom out and see where I am on that learning curve so I know how much further I have to go. I’m like a little kid asking, “Are we there yet?”
How can we see beyond our maturity?
Can we get glimpses of what we have left to learn? Yes. But we first have to assume that we don’t know everything there is to know about something, and then we have to enlist the help of karma.
Karma? Really? Yep, stick with me and I’ll show you what I mean.
These ideas work with any project or skill, but I’m going to specifically discuss them in regards to writing.
- Studying: Seeking information to learn from books or websites.
When I first became serious about becoming a published author, I checked out 30 books about writing from the library. No, I’m not exaggerating. Perfectionist, remember? Grammar, craft, business, and industry—I inhaled them all. I found blogs like Edittorrent and storyfix, and I went through all the archives to learn more about advanced techniques and story structure.
- Observing: Watching how others do it.
Writers should read books, lots of them, both within and outside of their genre. Pay attention to how other authors create emotion, insert foreshadowing, and surprise us with twists. I’ve also recommended that writers should volunteer to judge writing contests. Not only is it easier to identify issues in other people’s work, but we’ll also start to see the bigger picture by noticing how our writing compares to others.
- Mentoring: Working with others, both more and less experienced.
Find others to work with—even if they’re less knowledgeable than we are. And here’s where karma comes in…
How Can Karma Help Us Become Better Writers?
We need people more experienced than us to learn the advanced techniques. And we need to find a way to make them want to help little ol’ us.
The key is believing that what goes around comes around. If we’re the type of people who are willing to help those just starting out, we’re more likely to receive help from those above us on the ladder.
The mechanics behind how karma works don’t matter. In fact, rather than a ladder, I picture karma as a big circle, with writers all helping each other to become better no matter our skill set. Even the greenest writer can help us as a beta reader, chiming in with their impression of the story and characters.
So I try to never look down or dismiss those who haven’t yet learned everything I have. They can still provide feedback to us, and as we help them, we’re ensuring that karmic circle remains unbroken. If we all work together, we’ll always have more experienced authors to help us.
What do you think of my theory? Do you agree or do you think I’ve crossed over to the Pollyanna dark side? *grin* Has karma worked for you, and if so, how? Should we have a new motto: Have you helped another writer today?Pin It