Hello, from Jeanette! First, let me say how much I appreciate everyone who reads this blog. Your comments always encourage me.
I have been writing for over fifteen years. I have three published books and hundreds of published articles, teach writing workshops and lead a critique group. Yet one afternoon last week I took a break from writing so I could listen to a Fiction 101 workshop on CD. Why not a more advance workshop? Because after a season of fighting an overloaded or completely frozen brain, I felt like I needed a refresher. I had set my fiction project aside for most of the summer and suddenly didn’t know where to pick it up again. So I pulled out CD No. 1 of a beginning-level workshop and stuck it in my laptop. I’ll confess that I wondered at first if I was wasting valuable time listening to a workshop for novice novelists. But at that moment I felt kind of like a beginner again. So I listened and took notes and ended that hour feeling like I’d received a mental booster shot. Will I listen to CD #2 next? I don’t know. I just know that I needed CD No. 1 to get me back into the fiction-writing groove.
As we are growing and advancing in our careers I believe that we benefit from occasionally revisiting the basics of the craft. I benefitted by rediscovering the joy of writing great stories. I also discovered a missing piece in my work-in-progress—I didn’t know what my main character’s desire was! Now I do.
If you are in a dry season, are returning to writing after a break or a difficult time, or just need a little kick start, try dusting off a beginner-level conference workshops or favorite writing book. If nothing else it’ll remind you have far you’ve come as a writer and why you love what you do. It also might open your eyes to sloppy habits or help you solve a frustrating problem in your story. Or maybe you’ve discovered another benefit to returning to the basics. I’d love to hear about them!