Ask PZM: Oct 2016 – UPPING OUR GAME AS WRITERS

Q.  Do you think continued learning is necessary for writers throughout their writing lives?

To answer this question, let me begin with a true story.

Several years ago a fiction writer I knew had several of her books traditionally published.  Then somehow her new book proposals were not getting the traction her previous book proposals had gotten.
I suggested that she consider taking a writing class or two to help her go to the next level of writing.  The writer did not like my advice and I am not sure she got subsequent traditional publishing contracts.

My personal viewpoint is that writers – just as people in all different fields – should never stop learning. And we should definitely have an open mindset to tackling new things – see a favorite nonfiction book of mine titled MINDSET: THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS by Carol Dweck for the concept of an open mindset to being willing to fail at new tasks.


What does this have to do with book marketing?

Improving our writing has a great deal to do with book marketing.  As authors marketing our books we have to compete with an enormous number of other books in our same genre, writing style, historical or contemporary period, etc.  This means we need our books to be the best they can in order to stand out in the sea of other books.  And in my opinion being the best means continuing to improve our writing as well as exposing ourselves to new ideas.

(I recently joined a book club that meets twice a month because I wanted to be required to read books outside my comfort zone.  Who knows how this exposure to new ideas may impact my writing?)

When I first started learning how to go from newspaper writing to fiction writing, besides taking writing courses I bought several Writer’s Digest books, which were tremendously helpful.  Such nonfiction writing books as these can often be borrowed from public libraries in physical or ebook formats.

In researching for this post I discovered that Writer’s Digest now has a subscription platform for writing video tutorials – see https://tutorials.writersdigest.com – and I plan to soon check out this opportunity.  (First I have to complete watching the https://www.masterclass.com online fiction writing course taught by James Patterson as well as complete the eight-week screenwriting class with http://coreymandell.net/ , which requires reading the book MINDSET before the first class.)

Sometimes even the smallest nugget of an idea can improve our overall writing.  For example, Corey Mandell talks about creating stakes that matter, and I am now engaged in doing the homework for his class to work on this aspect of writing.
And remember the free dialogue “tutorial” that is available for all writers – eavesdropping in restaurants and other public places.  While this eavesdropping is NOT for us to copy the dialogue exactly, the purpose is to stimulate our minds to think of new ideas and ways to express those ideas.
In the comments below, add your best tips and techniques for continuing education for writers throughout their writing lives.


Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) blogs on book-related topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.comand her fiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermillerand her nonfiction ebooks on Amazon can be read for free via Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller

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