The world doesn’t standstill. It changes. Attitudes change, technology certainly changes, and the things that really matter or that people want to read about can also change. It is very important for writers to stay on top of their craft. To not only improve their skills but to remain current and understand the way things work today.
Continuing your education by taking online classes, writer specific training on technology or skills, and just reading books in other genres, is a very important part of being a writer. There are also subjects like piracy, that you need to keep aware of, so you know if there are steps you need to take to combat their effect on your paycheck.
I would suggest setting time aside each day or at least once a week to devote to professional enhancement. This is important if you are just starting out, have a few books published, or are a big name. You should always strive to know more, understand more, and be better.
Below are several categories you could pursue and some suggestions for continuing your writer’s education.
The first one is fairly easy. Read other authors. Pick out the top books in your genre and see what top-selling authors are doing and how they do it. Not just reading the book, but what did they put in the book for back matter? How did they arrange the book, what is their cover like, what can you learn? Then branch out into other genres. Again, looking at bestsellers but also taking time to pick out something solely on the blurb. Read the books for enjoyment, but also read them with an eye to learning something.
Several successful writers who know what they are doing, and are willing to share the things they’ve learned, have informative blogs or websites. They have newsletters that will help you keep track of new technologies or ways of doing things. Here are just three of my favorite resources:
Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula @SelfPubForm
Whether you self-publish or not, plan to or not, the wealth of information on this site is incredible. Some of it is free, some you need to pay for. There are podcasts, spreadsheets, and slideshows along with all types of information to read and learn from. There is even a scholarship for a lucky few who would like to take the course and can’t afford it. Disclaimer: I started out with the free stuff and ended up taking Self-Publishing Formula 101 and the Ads for Authors course. If he comes out with other courses, I’ll probably take those too. Extremely good information here.
One of the benefits of the paid course? As things change and evolve, Mark updates the course and you get the updated version without paying for it again. So, it helps keep you on top of new technologies or new ways of doing things. For instance, when Amazon or Facebook changes everything. It has been a tremendous help.
The Creative Penn website run by Joanna Penn @thecreativepenn
Again, there are free and paid resources about how to write, how to market, how to make things like blurbs, synopsis, query letters, etc. A few minutes browsing her site and I find things I overlooked or didn’t think about. Often when I google something I need to know about writing, I find it on the Creative Penn site. She’s been at this for a long time and has great answers.
Electric Speed, Newsletter by Jane Friedman @JaneFriedman
In this newsletter, Jane shares digital tools and resources for authors. She tries things out, tells you the good and the bad, and compares them if there is something to compare it to. A very interesting newsletter. I learn something new every month.
Time Management and Focus for Writers – Ongoing Education Tip
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on continuing education. Especially not at first. If you sign up for some of the free newsletters, listen to the free podcasts, go to the websites and read the articles—then when you want or need to take that next step, you will know which programs interest you. Remember, just a little time spent on continuing education on a daily or weekly basis will help you stay informed, help you get better at your craft and the business of writing, and will make you a better writer.
Enjoy your week and do something Wilde!