A comment on a post I’d left on a writer’s group Facebook page gave me pause. It was something I re-blogged because the writer’s honesty encouraged me. I love sharing writing tips, mine and others. The commenter remarked, “every writer knows this stuff, and this post was a waste.” I shook my head and decided to explain on my blog why “I beg to differ.”
Educators explain people learn in a spiral. Simply put, reviewing the basics before adding a new concept helps a student retain and expand on the information. Therefore, material is repeated at every grade level year after year. The basics of math and reading are reviewed in early elementary school. It takes a few years to master the foundation. Every grade level through high school spend the first portion of the year reviewing the materials last presented in the previous year. Most students don’t remember enough from past lessons in earlier years to build on a new concept. We remember it while we are using it. (Think high school French class.) Then we forget some or all of what we learned. We continue to relearn, remember, forget, relearn until we own the skill and don’t forget.
The same applies to writing. I attended a writing retreat years ago. One subject was correct grammar. Later someone bemoaned the waste of time. After all, writers know this stuff. For me, there were things I’d forgotten. And punctuation issues, I needed clarity on.
Reviewing what you know
Familiar topics on writers’ conference brochures could be the deciding factor to skip the event when we’ve attended those same classes before.
I’ve discovered I’m always learning things I missed the first time. The review refreshes my knowledge. Applying what I learn may take a few times of hearing it to get it right.
If we’re honest, we can list at least one new thing we learned and determined to apply, but didn’t. It can take several more classes, blog posts or articles, before we followed through.
Learning to avoid bad advice
How many times have you seen those ads that promise big bucks, even if you don’t know how to write? Everyone knows not to pursue it. But writers do. A desire to write full-time and quit a day job can drive an aspiring writer to waste time on content mills. How many will raise their hand along with me and say… “I did.” After I was so foolish, I read many articles debunking my choice, and I own that concept now.
My email fills with several blog subscriptions weekly. I’m amazed when the familiar comes along right when I need it. Recently, a post reminded me of the ten most common novel writing errors. It reset my mind and put me in tune with those things as I edit my latest WIP. I knew the tips well, but knowing and doing can sometimes trip over each other.
Relearn from each other
Although I am a traditionally published author, I subscribe to indie authors blogs. Both traditional and Indie can teach me things. One example: why multiple levels of editing are important. As a traditional author, I get those edits from my publisher. But indies need to hire the editors or do it themselves. I’m more mindful of what to expect from the publishers I work with. Another example: marketing. Most authors struggle to remember what and how to do it correctly and consistently. It helps me to decide what types of marketing beyond what my publisher offers I might want to explore.
My tip when we are tempted to say, “we all know this stuff.” Don’t. Someone may not be familiar at all. I’m amazed how the old adage, “You don’t know what you don’t know” applies to me. I’ve seen best-selling authors taking copious notes in classes on subjects I assumed they were an expert. Often, they remark. “I’ve learned something new.”
What new or review information were you grateful to have received in your Inbox or social media? Were you at the learn or forget stage when you read it?
Comment below I’d love to hear your thoughts.
And don’t forget to subscribe before you leave this page to follow Jubilee Writer.