Today I'm going to be talking a lot about my own personal journey as a writer, so I understand if some of you aren't very interested, but I will do my best to frame this as how it might apply to others. Just as a warning as we start out, though, art is pretty subjective, and things that seem universal to one writer or painter or dancer might not be to another. With that disclaimer out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.
I think that at this point, most if not all of us have been in the situation where we have an idea and say to ourselves, "This is a great idea, I should write it down." Now, when that happens for the first time varies wildly from one person to the next. If I'm remembering right, I think I was 11 or 12 the first time I decided I wanted to write a book, this lightning strike of inspiration being sparked off of the mind-blowing revelation that there were still people out there writing books. That my favorite series at the time (Harry Potter) wasn't actually complete, and there was an author out there somewhere in the world actively writing the next installment of what was going to happen to Harry.
Obviously, between now and then there have been many, many changes and uncounted hours of practice, setting down my imaginings on paper or screen.
At some point, though (probably in my Sophomore year of college, if I'm being brutally honest) I thought I knew all there was that I needed to know. At that point, I actually stopped learning - not because I knew everything but because I had decided that there was nothing left to learn. I imagine that this actually happened several times throughout my life, and more times than I really want to admit, but this last time was the one that lasted the longest. From that point (I was 20 at the time) until earlier this year (I am now 28) I thought that I actually knew all there was that I needed to know about writing.
You're probably shaking your head and saying "Oh, Ink. You silly child." I am, too, trust me. For years I've known that it is the foolish that think they are wise, and the wise that know they are foolish. And here I am, newly humbled, realizing that for years, I thought I was wise, and in fact I was betraying my foolishness to the world.
Okay. So now I'm settling into the title of today's article: the task of improving. I'm not going back to school (I don't have enough money for that kind of thing) but I am taking classes. Masterclasses, Great Courses, SkillSharing, YouTube videos, writing blogs, discussions with friends, and of course - reading a variety of new authors.
I'm digging into the history of the thing, the whys and wherefores of how writing works, and trying new techniques. Last week you saw my new corkboard, which is part of that project, trying to organize things in new ways to see how well it works for me.
There are many hours on the horizon of practice, study, and experimentation.
My question for you, dear Inklings, is this: How do you tackle the task of improving? What stages have you been through in your artistic journey?