I love learning. Always have. There was a time in my life when I thought I’d have the privilege of being a perpetual student (which is to say, a professor…). That didn’t turn out to be my career, but it hasn’t stopped me from pursuing my dream. I read. I travel. I listen. And wherever I am, I learn something.
I’m taking a course now on body language — how to read it, how to write it, how to use it to communicate more effectively. I’m definitely learning a lot. Experts on body language will read postures, gestures and facial expressions to understand what people are really saying, their hidden words. It can be fun to test out in the real world!
One of the things that struck me in this course on body language is how differently people learn. Some of us learn best by reading, others by listening, and others simply by doing — the old trial and error technique. I’m not surprised to hear that, but I’d never thought about how to apply that knowledge when I was teaching. I am now thinking very much about how to apply that knowledge when I am writing.
Writing is a skill, and while there is an art to it that perhaps cannot be learned, there is certainly a craft that can be. With each book I write, I strive to improve. Throughout the year, through the benefit of courses, conferences and workshops, I learn more about technique, style, character development. I practice, beyond what appears on the pages of my book. I write short stories, enter competitions, seek feedback from experts. Membership in organizations like the Sisters in Crime is invaluable.
I’ve always thought I was the type of person who learned best through reading. But as I write more, and work on my craft more, I realize that I also learn through doing. Practice and more practice, as they say. Of course, it doesn’t feel like practice when it’s something you love to do, does it?
I hope the work pays off, and that as my readers work their way through the books of my series, they find that each book is better than the one before.
More information about my books and links to online retailers can be found at janegorman.com.
9 thoughts on “There’s Always More to Learn”
Jane, I think it was Anne Lamott.
Very cool, thanks for finding that!
Excellent post, Jane. I had to train myself to compose on the computer, and it’s automatic now. However, I still take notes in pen on paper.
Thanks Marilyn. It’s so easy to forget the differences between people sometimes. I’m using this in my characters now, making sure they each have their own way of learning, writing, reading, etc.
Hi Jane, this is a wonderful post that contains so many elements of truth; I think it’s valid to understand how we learn and when I taught, I tried very hard to make my students aware; I also became conscious of my own limitations: the things that worked and those that did not. I know I am a visual/kinesthetic learner; I don’t have to have the lecture or the material, but I have to see it ( read it) to gain comprehension; I also have to underline ( not via markers—too distracting) annotate ( and in pencil) as well as recopy and use beautiful pens and paper (???). Therefore, learning was often long and arduous. When I write, I really like to begin with paper and pencil, but sometimes that isn’t feasible. You are so right about the ‘doing’ of it. A famous writer ( I wish I could recall who it is) once said that ‘writing actually creates thinking.’
I love that quote! I always found rewriting my notes — agree, with a good pen — worked wonders for me, too. When I write, I plan so much of the story, but then as I write I think of so much more, so my books are both planned out and crafted as I go.
It might have been Virginia Wolfe! In the middle of class; I would stop suddenly and tell my students to pull out their journals and just write for 10 minutes NON STOP; I warned them not to think and not to edit, but just to write with wild abandon; if I saw someone pondering or erasing, I would yell! WRITE; let your thoughts appear during the act, and it was amazing the things they discovered. I am too highly organized, self-critical and ocdish that if I am trying ( emphasis on the word ‘trying’) to write creatively, that planning becomes too stifling for me, but if I hear a tune or a song, a memory is aroused, and if I have the time to write, I will do just that…trust….”Ground Control to Major..” brought tears to my eyes and conjured so many memories that if I had the time to record my thoughts, sigh, like a dream catcher, something might have been caught. The revision stages are tedious, necessary and endless, however, but if I keep at it, characters emerge and scenes appear unplanned. Taylor Caldwell would sit down to write, go into a trance and the next thing she recalled was a chapter written ( she claims she had no memory of even writing).
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Hi Skye, for some weird reason I just saw the comment you left on Amber’s post in February – that you weren’t able to sign up for my newsletter and that you live in Marlton. That is right up the road from me! I’m so sorry I didn’t see the comment sooner and I hope you see this! You can always contact me through Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I grew up in Cherry Hill and I would love to read your books; I’ll send you an e-mail, Jane!
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