Education - A-Z Challenge, Starting & Sustaining A Writing Career

Monday, April 6, 2015

The writing journey is an education in itself. The year 2010 seems a long time ago, but I can still remember the bewilderment that attacked me when I realized I was expected to do all the heavy lifting for my books. Signing with two small publishers meant no advertising budget, therefore no ready-made publicity. No nothing. By September of 2011, I dipped into the world of self-publishing which had me climbing another steep learning curve.

But the real education began in 2004, when I started writing again. I had to unlearn everything I knew about writing essays and general papers and refocus on learning the craft of writing. 

The wonderful thing is that we get to decide what the throw out and what to keep. Mostly. Earning several publishing contracts gave me the opportunity to break some rules, which I couldn't wait to do. Like using sentence fragments and starting sentences with 'and' or 'but'. 

However, I'm the owner of more than a dozen craft books, I joined an online workshop, did a workshop for a year with a wonderful instructor and read hundreds—if not thousands—of articles on the internet. And I'm still learning.  An aside here, don't despair if you don't have university credentials in creative writing. The vast majority of good writers don't and it hasn't held them back.

Ongoing study is important though, because writing is a craft no one has ever mastered. To this end, read everything you can in as many subject areas as possible, attend conferences and workshops, subscribe to online magazines (many of which are free), participate in groups that focus on the genre/s in which you write and don't neglect your reading. Avid readers make better writers.

Thanks for stopping in. Any advice you wish to add?

A writer should get as much education as possible, but just going to school is not enough; if it were, all owners of doctorates would be inspired writers.
                                                                                        - Gwendolyn Brooks


  1. I personally encourage the people who are playing a great role in the education sector. In this post, you have included few important point that can help people in taking right decision for the study purpose.

  2. Good for you to get educated on what you want to do, and improve on it. I remember a writing teacher (at a workshop) using my paper as an example. He read the first sentence and said, "This is what we call a topic sentence, which is what we need in essay writing, not in creative writing." I had a lot to learn.
    Play off the Page

  3. I agree with what you've said here. We should strive to keep learning up until the point when we keel over and die.

  4. Excellent, excellent advice. I always feel like I need to learn and improve. I don't think I'll very feel completely confident.

  5. The only way to learn writing is to write. Even the craft books one reads don't help if the writer doesn't apply what's learned by writing. Good challenge theme, especially applies to me right now with things I'm going through.

  6. We never stop learning. And the best way to do that is to keep reading and keep writing.

  7. I hope I never stop learning how to write better. Not only will it make my stories stronger, but help me grow too.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Member of C. Lee's Muffin Commando Squad
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  8. I think we all have so much to learn. Thanks for sharing your experience and best of luck on your future.

  9. Expand your horizons! Seek more information with a vengeance. Learn, learn, learn.

    Thanks! Glad you're in the A-to-Z!


  10. I hear what you're saying about the unlearning! The therefores and whereases! Egads.

  11. always keep learning... never stop.

  12. Great advice! One area where I fall short is in the reading. Sometimes I just have a heck of a time finding time to read! I know I have to do it though. I thought getting the Kindle app on my iPad would do the trick but I still struggle with it. I do believe that avid readers make better writers. I need to get busy! Great post.
    Michele at Angels Bark

  13. And the good thing is there's always something else to learn. Stops us getting complacent.

  14. Read what you like to write. Write what you like to read!

  15. "Writing is a craft no one has ever mastered." I couldn't agree more! I have been learning how to write for what feels like eternity. The best experience I had was actually in university. The screenwriting course taught us how to learn from other writers - how to watch a TV show or film and pick out the tricks, how to breakdown a script and learn the craft, and how to apply everything we learn to our own stories. More than a decade later, I still do this, but with novels. There's so much to learn that I'm sure I will be devouring writing craft books and blogs for my entire life!

    Thanks for the great post!

  16. I would add that writers should strive to read and write outside of their comfort zone. Experiment. And if you write a particular genre, get feedback from one or two readers who don't normally read that genre. When I wrote my first historical fiction short, a friend was completely lost because I had taken for granted that "everyone knew" about the Tuskeegee airmen.

  17. Read, read, read, and read some more. In and out of the genre you write. Other than that, it sounds like you are on the right track.

    Scribbles From Jenn - Visiting from the A to Z Challenge

  18. I agree 100% in our duty of ongoing and continuous learning about the craft of writing. I own many craft books and I gain a wealth of knowledge from people like you and the many other published authors (Jami Gold, Larry Brooks, Martha Alderson, James Scott Bell, C.J.Lyons, Holly Lisle, Mary Buckham, Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi, Steven James, Janice Hardy, Susan Denard, Deb Dixon, Clarissa Drapper, Les Edgerton, Nathan Bransford, Hallie Ephron, James N. Frey, Brenda Drake, Jane Friedman, Elizabeth George, Rayne Hall, Jodi Henley, C.S. Lakin, Dr. D.P. Lyle, Donald Maass, Jordan McCollum, Pam Mc Cutcheon, Virginia Mixon, Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Eugene Orlando, Darcy Pattison, Alicis Rasley, Julie Smith, Alexandra Sokoloff, Bob Mayer, Camy Tang, Susan May Warren, Kim Weiland, Chuck Wendig, Lori Wilde, Cathy Yardley, Jessica Bell , Roz Morris and Rachel Aaron) are just some of the most helpful that popped into my head. I don't know what writer's did before the internet.

    As a lawyer we are required to obtain a certain number of CLE (Continuing Legal Education) hours at live seminar each year. I believe it is the same for doctors, nurses, CPA's and other professions. I realize that it would be impossible to make such a requirement for authors, but that shouldn't stop us from creating our own self imposed continuing educational requirements.

    Perfect post.

  19. I have found the best education tool is a blog. Whatever I learn, I make an article of it. They say the best way to learn is to teach others. So I dedicate my blog to writer education. I've learned a quite many things, especially in writing articles of it, plus it is my own quick reference guide if I need help on something.

    This year, like last year, I have devoted AtoZ Challenge to Literary Terms from Unlikely Sources. Today is Ego, Id, and Super-Ego. Goes into the Freudian Trio, also known as 'The McCoy', 'The Kirk', and 'The Spock'.

    I invite you to check it out:

  20. Excellent advice! Just when you think you've learned all you need to know, things change. Better to just be ready to learn at all times.

  21. It's amazing how many of the writing skills I learned in school are completely useless for writing fiction. Not to mention all the other skills necessary.

  22. I think reading is the best way to improve your writing, that and getting other people to read and give feedback on your work.

  23. This is such an interesting and informative article. I am so glad to have connected with you through AtoZ. Will be tuning in all through April. Happy A to Zing! :)
    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

  24. Having a new editor has been quite an education.
    She is kicking my butt, in a good way.

    Great posts!

  25. Feeling low for quite sometime and needed this article. Thank you so much for connecting with me! Happy AtoZ blogging!

  26. I enjoy reading craft books, especially for the exercises. I also enjoy writing historicals because there's education involved in the research!

  27. Good for you! There are few self-published authors who break the boundaries like you. This is really encouraging for those who are seeking publication outside the normal channels. It just take tenacity to see it through. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us on this round of A2Z fun!

  28. Hi JL! I love your theme for this challenge. I'm definitely going to stop in as often as I can this month. I'm always trying to educate myself and like you have countless books, magazines and articles on the craft of writing.

    I hope you have a great day and I'll be by again soon. Eva

  29. Hi Joy,
    This is indeed an encouraging piece to people like me.
    Yes, this learning process never ends and it goes on and goes on till we breath last! LOL
    Yes, I am sure its a continous process and there is not end to it! And here the key word
    is READ READ AND READ!! yes, and then write!
    Your concluding para talks more i mean volumes!
    Keep writing,
    Thanks for your valuable time to drop in at my palace
    Have a great week ahead
    ~ Phil

  30. Hey, Great topic you have pickup to write here which relate to education and employment. As we all understand, education is our first priority when it comes to career development. Thanks..& keep sharing such great information.
    MBA in Australia

  31. When it comes to education, select the course or diploma based on market demand and your own interest. Also you can grab high paying jobs by doing Advanced Diploma courses.

    Thank you for sharing such an amazing post on education.


Don't be shy, I'd love to hear what you think.