I have a BA in English, an MFA in Creative Writing, and I’ve literally been writing for over 20 years. I’ve taken numerous classes on writing, read many books about writing, attended workshops and lectures, participated in festivals and apprenticeships, and I make a living as a freelance writer and editor (and internet marketer – but even that involves a lot of writing). And yet, I’m still constantly seeking out books about writing, writing classes and workshops, and reading blogs and online resources about the craft of writing.
I know of some people who have MFAs or have been published and they don’t bother trying to learn anymore. Some people feel when they have any amount of success that they’ve reached the point as artists where they know their craft. That is great! But no matter how much you know and perfect your craft, there is always more to learn. There is always room for improvement. I bet even Meryl Streep could get something out of the right acting class.
In spite of all of the experience and education I have, I still make mistakes as a writer. I’m sure when my novel is published, I will get many 1-star reviews on Goodreads, like any other writer. (I’ve already gotten a few less than stellar reviews on Goodreads on my self-published works!) I often look back on things I wrote a year ago or even a few months ago and think of ways I could have done it better. And that’s perfectly okay!
Some people might feel this is a little frustrating. If there’s always room to grow, does that mean you’re always going to be lacking something? I don’t think so. Sure, there’s always something to learn, but wherever you are right now on your writing journey is exactly where you need to be. I always appreciate those writers that get such bad reviews and so much hate. (Stephenie Meyers, E.L. James, James Patterson, what-have-you.) In fact, I appreciate anyone who writes anything ever, even if it’s not “great.” There is beauty in the process. These people are exactly where they are supposed to be as writers. No matter what your level, you can be happy with where you are as a writer and still put time and energy into growing and learning more.
It would be so disappointing if I ever got to a point where I had nothing left to learn! I think it’s exciting that as artists, we become better and better every day. So here’s your encouragement for the day, fellow writers, to go and learn something about writing. Whether you have never written any work of fiction or you have a PhD in Creative Writing, I bet there’s still something you will gain from a read or another re-read of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.