The Evolving Writer, Part I
If one is making progress in his or her writing, that writing is constantly changing in many ways. It will be changing in content and subject matter, in form or media, and in quality (and perhaps even in quantity).
I had had minimal formal education in writing–the required college composition courses and the one journalism class offered by the college at the time. And a lot of papers that I had had to write for my other classes. That was a solid starting point, but it was what I later learned in the School of Hard Knocks that most changed my writing. All the “booklearning” in the world will never take the place of experience.
I began writing about economics, taking common economic principles and stating them simply, illustrating them with everyday examples from my experiences as a young social studies teacher. Later, I began writing about the art of writing, sharing with other struggling wannabe writers the lessons I was learning as my teaching career evolved. (By then, I was teaching writing within the English curriculum. After all, I had a minor in English and was a published writer, so the administration assumed I could teach writing, too.) Then, over time, I started writing about educational topics for fellow educators across the nation. Occasionally, I also wrote pieces for religious publications.
All the while, I continued to tackle those other topics about which I’d been writing. The shift that was occurring in my writing was more an adding to, a broadening of, than a series of complete changes in subject matter.
Not all change, however, is good. Sometimes we change for the worse. But our writing can still benefit and improve even from bad change if we recognize and learn from our mistakes. The biggest mistake is not in making the mistake but in not doing anything to correct it. If we try something new and it falls flat, we must either learn from it and do better next time or drop it and move on. Don’t keep repeating the same mistake.
If your writing is not changing, you’re not improving or growing as a writer. Only with change comes improvement. I’m still learning, and so should you. There are no know-it-alls in life. Learn something new. Try a different genre. Test a new market. Keep growing and improving.
I hope in future posts to share some of the lessons that have caused me grow. I’m still learning, but maybe some of what I’ve learned will help you in your writing, too.
Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson
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