Learning and Growing

For my birthday back in November, I received two new non-ficiton books. I have been steadily working my way through them, not wanting to rush through the treasure trove of information. Thinking back, taking my time and pacing myself in learning is something that I’ve always done.

Gail Carson Levine was my favorite author growing up, and a huge inspiration for me even to this day. Her two non-fiction books on writing, Writing Magic and Writer to Writer, are well-used and worn on my bookshelf from my days as a young writer. Each chapter ends with writing exercises, so it forces you to stop reading and do some writing. I usually didn’t go back and zoom through the book right away because after doing the little writing exercise, I just wanted to write more! The next day or later than week, I would go back and read some more, which would grow me and spur me on towards more writing.

Fast-forward to last year, when I found Brandon Sanderson’s 318R class lectures. After the first video, I was hooked. My desire to learn and grow as a writer had been revived. I probably could have watch all of them in one day if I hadn’t restrained myself. Instead, I watched one class a day, pausing to take meticulous notes, and often going over my notes a few times that day and trying to apply it to my story ideas. Rather than rushing through it in a couple days, it took me a couple weeks, but the time to soak in each lesson really helped his methods and tips to stick with me.

After the class ended, I began to seek out more materials on fiction writing. I knew I had a lot of room to grow as an author, and I knew the #1 way to grow was by writing and finishing novels, but I had been neglating the learning side of things. My hunger to learn had been realized. Sanderson mentions Orson Scott Card a lot in the class, and, Card being one of my favorite authors, that gave me some direction on where to start.Thusly, for my birthday, I received two of Orson Scott Card’s non-fiction books on writing: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy and Characters and Perspectives. Both of these books were amazing and enhanced my view of writing so much.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy really helped me to understand the genre/s, the freedom and the restraints, and gave me so many ideas. Not only that, but it gave me so much to thing about when it comes to world building and story creation. I espeicially loved the section on Exposition and the tid-bits about disciplines for the writer at the end of the book.

Characters and Perspectives was quite the book. It really helped me to think more deeply about characters, whether it was realizing things I had been doing or discovering new ways to think about things. There were just so many nuggets in this book, from how to write a believable character to what gives characters sympathy and a great section on how to torture your characters well (for the sake of the story, of course!)

I’m sure I’ll return to read both of these books again one day, but my note book stuffed with notes is something I’ll keep at my side when I right. I marked the top corners of each page with a one-word description of what I’d find there so I can easily find and remember the things that stood out to me.

I’m tempted to not write, to just keep reading and soaking and learning. I love taking notes, and these books have really pushed me to think more clearly and analytically about my stories and characters. I could just keep reading for forever! But I won’t grow as a writer by reading. I want to learn and grow, and that means not forsaking one for the other, but finding time for both.

I’m looking forward to diving into my next read, Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland, but I’m reminding myself to take my time. I don’t want to just read a lot, I want to remember a lot, and I want to make sure I’m not just reading, but always writing.

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