Balancing StonesR

Creating a Balance of Learning and Writing

by Jody Calkins

We could research and study until we’re blue in the face. It’s the easy part of being a writer. You simply take in data, sort of as if you’re filling a car with fuel.

But even a car gets to be driven. We can’t keep filling the gas tank. Eventually it gets full and we have to use the gas we’ve purchased before we can buy more.

Creativity doesn’t quite work the same way, I know. We could constantly be learning, constantly be fueling our creativity. But to what end and for what purpose?

We learn things for a reason, don’t we? We learn how to speak Italian so we can communicate with other Italian speakers, maybe because we want to take a vacation in Italy. We learn how to type because we want to be able to type. We improve our vocabulary so we can expand our communication skills.

Is there anything we learn simply for the sake of learning it or knowing it?

There’s always a reason behind our actions. Perhaps we seek to learn things for a future purpose. Isn’t the purpose of studying the craft of writing and researching topics you’re interested in so you can write? We read books on writing so we can learn how to become better writers and to tell better stories. We read books on writing “breakout novels” so we can sell our work and become bestselling authors.

The trouble with the writing reference section in your bookstore (especially an online bookstore) is that there are so many books on writing that you could spend your whole life reading these because more books get published every year. So many talented authors have valuable tips to share to help writers improve and sell their work.

It’s easy to get sucked into reading and learning instead of focusing on our writing work. We don’t really have to do any work. We don’t have to open ourselves up to any readers, bare our souls to the world.

But again, I ask: for what purpose?

You want to write, don’t you?

Then there must be a balance of learning and putting what you’ve learned into action through writing.

How do you know you’re ready to write?

If you can hold a pen, type on a keyboard, or speak into a voice recorder, you are ready to write. You needn’t wait until that right moment when you’ve learned all there is to know about writing and about crafting a story. If you wait too long, you will become frustrated with your lack of writing achievement.

Start right now. Write every day even if it is for just 15 minutes. Also allow time for reading and studying and putting into practice the things you have learned.

Learning with purpose allows us to balance learning with writing, giving us the ability to work toward our writing goals.

The next time you pick up a book on writing, make it work for you. Fill up your "creativity tank" and then work through the exercises or put your new knowledge to the test in your writing work.

With love,

Jody Calkins

Jody Calkins








Top Photo Credit: Anatoli Styf


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