There’s a difference between the ‘art’ of writing and the ‘craft’ of writing. Art is subjective, its beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder … but craft is objective. There is a right way and a wrong way to craft. Gerard de Marigny in Joanna Penn’s blog on September 5, 2011.
Today, I’m writing about the craft of writing. How does one learn the craft? As I see it, there are two distinct ways.
First, I understand before education was ubiquitous, writers learned the craft by studying those who were successful writers and writing frequently oneself. There weren’t how to books, or continuing education classes on writing fiction. It was more learning by doing – a type of immersion learning.
This type learning is still valid. Most sources I find recommend would be writers read well written fiction to learn how to write it. They also recommend that one writes with discipline, i.e. establish a routine for writing, one that gives you sufficient time to accomplish writing a piece. Usually, these sites recommend writing in blocks of four hours or so.
The second, more recent way of learning the craft is to take courses and read how to books. If you live in a remote area, as I do. Sometimes it is difficult to find a course available. There are a number of online courses on creative writing. Also, one can read the how to books. Here are some I think are valuable:
Stephen King, On Writing
Alander Steele, ed., Gotham Writer’s Workshop: Writing Fiction The Practical Guide from New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School
Darrell Pitt, Secrets of Successful Writers
Don McNair, Editor-Proof Your Writing
Renni Browne & Dave King, Self Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit yourself into Print
Scott Nicholson, et al., Write Good or Die: Survival Tips for the 21st Century
These are the ones I’ve read recently. For me it is fun and interesting to continually read about writing and how one can do it better. I have even noticed that watching movies or television has changed for me. I can identify the beginning, middle and end of stories and know when a playwrite is using a character to fill in a backstory, for examples.
So, in summary, I support the tried and true ‘old’ method of learning to write and use Self-Directed Learning to further train myself in the craft of writing.