Saturday, April 20, 2013

It Ain't Learnin' vs. Livin'

I came across this article in The Atlantic magazine (when I was trolling the Internet looking for places to plug my books) titled "Live First, Write Later: The Case for Less Creative-Writing Schooling." The author's argument is a published-writer-to-be can spend too much time in school and would be better off getting out there in the world and living! And then writing from the knowledge gained there.

Well . . . yes and no. We don't learn to write on our own. (Or read, either.) At the very least, we pick it up from books. I had a handful of teachers in grade school, high school, and college that helped me tremendously. I can still think of some specific rules, tips, and advice they gave me that I use today. (Including "it's okay to break a rule if you know you're breaking a rule.")

Most of the commenters on the Atlantic article blast the author and point out all humans, you know, live and when they sit down to write they have a ton of experiences. (And one commenter said "buy my book." Tacky little salesman.)

A writing class, a writing group, a tutor or a mentor may help you tremendously. I remember reading a quote from one graduate of Iowa's writing program that said eventually he could have learned all of it by hit or miss but going to school there made that happen much, much faster. (I had a mentor, a publisher, who really helped me learn how to write humor books. He was great.)

Keep an eye out for how you can learn more about writing, but remember it's not a substitute for writing.

Just keep writing.

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