Pursuing Your Craft: Knowledge

Oh my goodness! It’s Thursday! Where did the time go?

Have you ever had that happen? Where you completely lose track of your days and forget to do that one thing you were supposed to do?

No more delay, though. Let’s talk knowledge!

In order to be the best we can be at our craft, we need to continually build up our knowledge base. We need to keep learning – I aim to try to learn something related to writing at least once a week. Right now I’m at a point in life where sometimes I get there and sometimes I don’t, but my knowledge is continually growing.

A big part of my growth is a writing community I’m in called Author’s Tale. We are a mishmash of writers whose sole purpose is to improve our writing through community.

Where can you find a similar community in your area of crafting?

A big thing I love, and sometimes hate, about this group is that someone is always willing to provide feedback. It can be a really uplifting experience. Or really humbling.

Negative feedback is SO hard to receive, but there is no other way to grow in the knowledge of your craft. Think about it this way. Have you ever watched auditions to any number of those talent reality shows on TV? Have you ever sat and cringed at what you were seeing and hearing? Has your mouth ever hung open at the post-audition interviews where the person is so angry at the judges because they truly believe they are so good at what they do when they really aren’t? Have you ever thought ‘how has no one ever told them that they’re terrible??’

You see friends, when we only gather people around us who tell us how good we are, we are like those people. When our knowledge grows stagnant, we risk embarrassing ourselves because of our belief that we are something special when, in reality, we’re only special because we’re that bad. Or there is nothing of note in our craft because we are just terribly average.

When we grow forward in our knowledge and apply it, that is when we start to separate ourselves from the pack. If I want to be a followable blog or a decently paid writer or whatever, then I have to be better than the vast majority of the people out there. My knowledge and application thereof has to be head and shoulders above the average.

Am I there yet?

No, I don’t think so. I still have a lot to learn about writing and about blogging and about vlogging to really generate any traffic or loyal fans. Even so, right now, I am building the foundation for such a career – one day, one week at a time, faithfully writing and recording and posting – I am building a habit and learning as I go.

Even though negative feedback is hard to receive, don’t be afraid of it. Don’t deny yourself your feelings either. Take time to feel them, to process them, and then ask yourself ‘what can I learn from this?’

If you are a writer, you also need to read. Read widely, both on and off the internet as you’re able, to begin to discern where you are in the pack of writing. If you find writing that makes you cringe, drop it and move on. If you find writing that inspires you to keep writing and growing because it’s THAT good – go back and read it often! Subscribe to the blog if it’s a blog, buy the book – whatever it takes to keep that writing in your mind.

Seek out those who are better than you and learn as much as you can from them.

Another thing that has helped my writing is to read for other writers. I’ve beta read for two individuals now and those two experiences alone have jumped my writing game HUGE notches because I realized that I do some of the same things I criticized their writing for. Seeing other people’s mistakes forces me to look at my own writing to find where I fall short.

Do whatever you can to connect with and provide feedback for your crafting peers. It’s hard. It’s time consuming. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself so deep into a feedback process that you think you’ll never have time for your own craft again.

Patience.

The season will pass and you will find you have time once again, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that you’re more motivated and energized to write than you’ve been in a long time.

Knowledge, friends.

Always seek out and follow best practices when you can. Ask for and provide honest feedback. Find people who know more than you and suck up all the learning you can. Pass on what you already know.

What’s the most helpful tip you’ve ever learned? What one thing has helped your craft grow more than anything else? I’d love to hear about it!

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