Monday, December 17, 2012

Always Learning

What methods do you employ to sharpen your writing skills? Do you read writing publications and blogs? Take classes? Attend seminars or conferences? Talk to other writers? Join writing groups?

I was reminded of the importance of continued learning the other day when I took part in James Scott Bell's webinar on "Revising a Novel They Can't Put Down". It was a refreshing 60 minutes packed full of tips, tricks and tidbits that boosted my knowledge and creativity. And best of all, it was free. :)

During the webinar, Mr. Bell shared the following quote:

"A great story is life with the dull parts taken out."

Alfred Hitchcock

(FYI: It is a paraphrase of where Hitchcock said:  "Drama is life with the dull bits cut out of it.")

I see the application of this thought in fiction, but I see the value in non fiction writing too. Sharp, interesting writing is a great goal no matter what we write. There's always something to learn, isn't there?

Do you think continuing education is one way to help us reach our goals? What steps do you take to stay on top of your game?

Helping those in Sandy Hook, Connecticut

There are no words to make last week's tragedy any better, are there? My heart is heavy, to think of the horrific event and the lives cut short brings me to tears. I'm sure you join me in keeping these families and the surrounding community in your thoughts and prayers. 

Help is springing up in many forms, including the Publishing Hearts Connecticut blog. A group of writers are conducting an auction to benefit the families and victims. For more info, visit the Publishing Hearts' blog. If you have a book or writing related service you wish to list, go to the auction sign up site.

I am taking a break, but will be back on January 7. Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season.

Hug your loved ones,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange


  1. I'm always learning new stuff online or in books.
    I've heard that to write a great story you need a great beginning, a great ending, and as little between the two as possible. (Not to be taken literal of course!)
    Have a blessed Christmas Karen and we will see you in a few weeks! Wednesday will be my last post until January as well.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. sorry typo above...

    I'm always learning.

    Recently I've discovered that a few techniques that I learned years ago are really kicking in now. It's second nature now.

    Merry Christmas! Enjoy your holiday break!

  4. Alex,
    It's great to have such easy access to this stuff, isn't it? Have a wonderful break!

    I find that too, the things I learn don't always get used right away but may come in handy later. :)


  5. I've done all of the above--books on writing, visiting writers' blogs, conferences, workshops, etc. Love to keep on learning. The secret then lies in prompting myself to apply what I've learned :-) Writers pretty much live that life, I think...

    Thanks for the link to the auction site to benefit the families in Newtown. Our hearts are still heavy over what happened. So sad.

    Looking forward to dropping in again when you're back from break. Thanks for all the help you offer writers :-)

  6. The webinar sounds very good. All that information and free, too. I could have used that when I was writing my novels.

    I do learn a lot of tips from all of my writer blog friends.

  7. I do like to read or take classes or workshops too.

    Have a Merry Christmas!!

  8. There is so much free information and seminars out there - no excuse not to learn.

    Have a great Christmas!

  9. I'm trying to learn continuously and not stay stagnant.

    Enjoy your break!

  10. "We must never stop learning!" -Robyn Campbell :-)

    I bet the webinar was wonderful. It sounds as though you found it so too.

    Hugging you! :-) Merry Christmas, amigo. And a most exciting new year.

  11. Kenda,
    I think you are right; the key is to apply what we're learning. Thanks so much for your kind words! I appreciate your support and friendship. :)

    The webinar was very good. :) It was put on by Writer's Digest. Bell knows his stuff!

    There's always something to learn, isn't there? :)

    Yes, really, there are a lot of free offerings out there! :)

    I'm with you, I don't ever want to think I've arrived. Thanks a bunch! :)

    I love that quote! That Robyn Campbell is really something, isn't she? :)


  12. Hi Karen...I read lots of blogs, magazines, books,newspapers, etc. Read, read, read, read, read.

    Hope your holiday is blessed. The sorrow in our hearts is not going to go away any time soon. Susan

  13. i will waiting for you in 7 january, ok?

    mery Xmast, and happy new year :D

  14. wishing you a wonderful Christmas season and a happy, healthy and wholesome new year Karen. Blessings.

  15. I'm always reading fiction. Always. I'm sure I've learned more than I know just by doing that. I may not be able to TELL you how to write well, but I sure know stellar writing when I see it. And when I don't.

    Have a wonderful break and a very Merry Christmas!

  16. I've heard so many good things about James Scott Bell's books. Many things recharge me - my yearly conference, a helpful how-to book, and even an excellent fiction book. Last year, I took a class on grammar, which helped me brush up on my skills.

    Thanks for the Sandy Hook information.

    Enjoy your blogging break!

  17. Susan,
    I agree, reading is one huge way to keep learning. :) Blessings to you as well. And yes, our hearts will be heavy for some time to come.

    Yes, will see you in January! Happy New Year to you too!

    Blessings to you and your family! And a happy and prosperous new year as well. :)

    I know, I think you pick up more than you think by reading fiction. It is interesting how we become more discriminating to what is good and what is not. :)

    I've read Bell's fiction and non fiction - he really does know his stuff! Thanks a bunch! :)

    Blessings and Happy New Year,

  18. I need some regrouping. I would have loved to watch the webinar. Actually I planned to, but life got in the way. I love his books. I also love your blog, Karen. You always have something invaluable to share. Thanks. And Merry Christmas.

    I know there are no words to add to what everyone has already said about last week's tragedy. I'm sending prayers too, and I will take time to learn a little about each of the victims, just to carry on their impact on life.

  19. What happens when we stop learning? We stagnate. Growth stops. Learning is essential to life. :)

  20. Joylene,
    Regrouping, yes, me too! And one of these days it's going to happen here. When I cam done, I'll swing by your place and help you regroup, okay? Thanks so much for your sweet and kind words. You are a jewel! :)

    I am thinking your comment should be saved as a notable quote! Wise words. :)


  21. As time allows, I read blogs on writing. I also read a lot, taking in the different style of writers.

    Have a great Christmas!


  22. Hi Karen! I think I do all the things you mentioned to keep learning. I love James Scott Bell. I bet that was an awesome webinar! He rocks! One way I learned so much about writing was while coauthoring our middle grade Monster Moon series. Both coauthors are so talented, and each of us have different strengths. It was like an ongoing workshop, but was also like a party because we laughed so much and talked about fascinating topics and brainstormed together. I don't think I'll ever stop learning the craft of writing. Reading as much as possible is another wonderful way to learn.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Karen. May the New Year bring you abundant blessings!

  23. Warren,
    Ah, there's the key - time. Somehow there doesn't seem like there is enough to read all the great ones out there! Thank you! Wishing you and your family the best of celebrations together.

    Thank you so much! Wishing you and your family abundant blessings as well. :) Yes, Bell's webinar was excellent. I can just imagine all the fun you had with your co-authors! Sounds like a great time.


  24. I find reading articles online and in books always brings a new perspective on something.

    Have a lovely holiday, Karen!

  25. I love going to conferences and workshops. I've done a few on line too. I think I learn the most from my critique partners.

  26. Hi Karen,

    I read a lot of blogs and online articles about writing. The annual Philly Writers conference also gives me an educational booster shot.

    I'm going to check out that Connecticut blog. Thanks for the link.

    Susan :)

  27. I learn a lot online, Karen. Blogs have so much writing tips and advice. I also learn from the books I read.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Karen.

  28. Talli,
    I know, it does, doesn't it? :) Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

    Thanks for coming by! Crit partners are great, aren't they? :)

    I've heard good things about the Philly conference. Glad it's a blessing to you! :)

    So many great resources out there, you know? :)

    Happy New year,

  29. I'm constantly learning, Karen, and I don't think I'll ever know enough. I learn by reading writing books and magazines, by reading books by author's whose style I admire, by joining a critique group, and by taking classes--real and virtual. There isn't enough time in the day. My focus is on storytelling and comparative religion, and the marriage of both.

    Have a wonderful Christmas filled with great food and warm company. Blessings to you and yours!


  30. Janette,
    Sounds like you are on the right track! Learning never stops, does it?
    Blessings to you and yours as well,
    Karen :)

  31. I read the classics..I am always amazed at the beauty of the authors words and descriptions of human nature...

  32. Annmarie,
    They are timeless, aren't they? I agree, there are so many good things to learn from them.
    Happy New Year,

  33. I wish you and your family a blessed New year!

  34. Joy,
    Wishing you and yours a wonderful year as well!
    Thanks and blessings,
    Karen :)


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!