I am a person who learns best by doing. I can be told something, but I don’t fully understand until I get my hands right into it.
I am in the long process of learning to be a writer. These days I alternate between writing, rewriting, and reading.
Reading other people’s words inspires me, whether it’s a how-to post or article, a nonfiction book, or a novel. Something in their work connects with and triggers the writer in me.
It seems I can no longer be only a reader when I read. There’s the writer-me in the background constantly taking notes. I have to read with a pencil and sketchbook close at hand to catch the flashes of insight into my project.
I know this happens to other writers. I thought it would interfere with my enjoyment of reading a novel by a favourite writer, would prevent me from relaxing into the story.
Surprise. It adds to my pleasure. As always, I move deep into the story I’m reading, but now I also move into the background process of the words and how they are building the flow of the story. I am not only learning by writing, I am learning by reading. Every book is a teacher for me.
In art school, I learned that the artwork I didn’t like taught me as much as the artwork I enjoyed. Both what I loved and didn’t love showed me who I was as an artist.
It’s exactly the same now, as I learn to be a writer. What I love and don’t love in other people’s words and stories helps me define what I wish to write and how I wish to write it.
I have as many teachers as there are books on shelves. How amazing to be a do-it-yourself student in the biggest learning-by-doing university in the world.
Thank you, all of you who write and share your words, and teach me by doing so.