You’ve Got A Lot To Learn, Grasshopper.

Unbeknownst to Daniel, Mr. Miyagi was actually teaching him karate moves with his “Wax on-Wax off” motion. When the time came to fight, Daniel knew what to do, because of all the work he’d done at Mr. Miyagi’s house.

We all start out at the bottom of the totem pole, just like the executive who might have started out in the mailroom or cleaning toilets. Only a very few exceptional writers actually make it right out of the starting gate the first time and I’ll bet most of them probably weren’t that lucky. Case in point, J. K. Rowling.

One thing we shouldn’t do is ignore professional advice. If you can find someone who has “been there”, someone who will show you the ropes, to teach the craft of writing to you, you should jump on that chance. For goodness sake, don’t ignore it, disrespect or put them down. You might regret that someday.

Sure, reading a book about writing can give you some of the basics, but it can’t give you the personal advice of someone who is knowledgable, someone who has been around the same block a few times that you’re trying to get around once on.

Books can vary in their content, confusing the heck out of you. One book I read said that there should be some dialogue at the beginning of each chapter…to kind of pull you into the scene. Another one said that the beginning of the chapter should be  there for you to build up the scene with imagery and the surroundings. So, which one is right?

With a teacher showing you the way, you’ll find you’re a better writer for it. I’ve been blessed to find not only one teacher, but many teachers, published and unpublished alike, who have taught me more than what I could ever learn from a book.

Many people, myself included, learn mainly by doing. Oh sure, I’ve read several “How to write” type books, but my association with the Writer’s of Mass Distraction has taught me so much more than what a book could teach me.

No book is ever as encouraging as a friend, co-worker, teacher and advisor. I’ve learned from my critical colleagues what I’ve needed to change to make a story better, and maybe they’ve learned something from me. At some point, we make it to teacher status, in some way, shape or form. Just recently, an aspiring writer read my novel “Remember The Eyes” and was inspired to finish her own manuscript. I don’t know what I might have done to inspire her, but I was glad I was there to help.

Some writers have this pre-conceived notion that they know how to write already, without the courses and the degrees. I recently read a novella that was so poorly written, the author had obviously not taken the time to edit it. It looked like maybe a teenager had written it. Of course, maybe the thrill of the written word was all this person wanted (the book was free from Amazon), but obviously no teacher, or friend even, taught this author that just because you can self-publish, doesn’t always mean you should.

What makes a great teacher? How about a good student. If you’re willing to learn, then a great teacher will be able to get you where you need to be.

Some writers are the Never-Ending Mistake. Advice is given to them, whether it’s about a book that they have written or a question that they have asked, and you give them the information that they will need. Do they take it? No. And, therein lies the problem. Apparently the “Wax-on, Wax-off” method of repeating things to them endlessly, doesn’t get through to them.

I consider my colleagues here at WMD excellent teachers. Each and every one brings something to the table. As I said, I consider myself blessed to be in the company of such a great lot of wonderful teachers.

So, instead of reaching for that “how to” book, why not find yourself a teacher who will teach you all that you need to know to write a decent book. There are lots of Mr. Miyagis out there…you just have to go out and find one.

Thankfully I found mine.

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This entry was posted in Advice, Publishing, Reflection, Writing and tagged , by Beth Muscat. Bookmark the permalink.

About Beth Muscat

I'm a wife, mother, writer and a blogger. I have five novels published at Amazon.com and a couple more in the works right now. I've got so many great friends that have helped me achieve my writing goals, and I've still got a lot to learn. They're all terrific people, some of them bestselling authors and some just starting out like me. I've got five books out as e-books: 1. "Wildflower" is a Contemporary Romance, a sexy love story about a younger man and an older woman 2. "Remember The Eyes" is a Paranormal Romance, and Book One in a series. 3. "Nothing Without You" is Book Two 4. "Infinite", is Book Three. Each book revolves around Riley and Michael, the love they share together and even the discoveries made with each other. 5. "The Bracelet", a Fantasy Romance about a woman torn between two worlds.

19 thoughts on “You’ve Got A Lot To Learn, Grasshopper.

  1. You’re right about writing books being confusing. The thing is, they are almost entirely anecdotal and are really based on the author’s personal preferences. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for others which is why having a teacher or mentor is imperative. Great post Beth!

  2. @Mike-That’s what I thought too. I’ve tried writing in third person, for example, but it just doesn’t work for me. In my latest WIP I’ve gone back to first person. I think it works so much better. You’ve got to find what works for you and having a teacher to help along the way doesn’t hurt.

    @Donna-Definitely!!!!

    • That’s great Kelly! As I said in the blogpost, I think we could all benefit from a teacher, and at some point, we can be teachers. I’m at the point where I want to learn all I can…it’s just finding the time to do so.

  3. I’ve had some wonderful teachers who have helped me along the way. What I know today is if you are in love with the written word, then you should commit to learning how to use it beneficially.

    Lately, one out of every ten or so books I’ve picked up, I kindly put down after reading the first paragraph. I hate that I do that, but I feel like I’m not inspired by what I read anymore. It could very well be that writers feel they don’t need a Mr. Miagi. I will gladly take every hour I can get from him!

    • Well, I think it takes more than just the first paragraph to truly become uninspired by it, but I see where you’re going with it. I’ve read a few books that have sounded like they were going to be good, but as the book progressed, I became disappointed that it wasn’t all that it was supposed to be. However, I usually continue to read it in hopes that it will get better….it usually doesn’t.

    • I have a 50 page guideline since some really good books don’t exactly start our roping me in. It has been a rare book indeed that I couldn’t at least give it to page 50.

  4. Beth’s book, Remember The Eyes is full of dynamic, visual imagery. She could teach a class on getting into the mind of a character and I am thrilled to be able to call her a friend. Great post!

    • Thank you, Evie….You’re the best! And, I’ve read Evie’s short story from an anthology collection, Fiction Noir: Thirteen Stories….and she also uses imagery to convey her story. I felt so much like I was her character as I’m reading it.

  5. Teachers have always made the experience “real” for me. Books can put out theory, but teachers can show how that theory translates to reality. This is the case in many disciplines, writing is no exception.

    Great Post Beth!

  6. Great post, Beth! When I first started out, I had no idea I didn’t know what I was doing. Thank goodness for books, classes, and critique partners. I’m addicted to “how to write” books to this day, and it’s funny how advice in one book will contradict advice in another. Reminds me about how subjective art is!

  7. It’s a real gift to have talented people that we can turn to, and I’ve learned a lot from other newbie writers like myself. I’m impressed by the generous nature of other writers.

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