Friday, April 30, 2010

Some Random Thoughts on Craft and Writing

When one of my kids was in kindergarten, the school’s director explained to me that in order for a kid to learn new task, they had to repeat it about a thousand times to fully internalize it. She also said there were two kinds of learners; external and internal learners. The external learners were perfectly happy to practice their task a thousand times with other people watching on, while the internal learners preferred to practice their task a thousand times in private before attempting it in public. I think there is a correlation to writing in there. A couple of them, in fact.

One of the reasons it helps to break craft down and study it is that it allows us to begin to internalize the process or skill we are studying. We practice those concepts with our conscious mind until they become second nature and become a part of our subconscious process and in fact become an organic part of our process. I can totally see where this has happened to me with some things. I simply don’t have to consciously think about them anymore.

I also think some writers get published in a greener state than other writers, and their learning process and growth progression is apparent in their published works. Others, practice in private until they produce a stunning manuscript, then they share it with the world. A truly rare breed pops out with a spectacular manuscript the first time (and we work really hard not to loathe them with every ounce of our being).

I know a lot of writers are intuitive; they don’t like to look under the hood or dissect the process for letting all the magic out. However, I think only a very few writers have such a natural level of excellence that they can truly afford to do this. It can be especially hard if you have a lot of natural talent. Your natural talent can take you far, but in order to break through that last bit of distance to Really Good, you need to understand what you’re doing craft-wise. Sometimes, that means going backwards as you dissect your process and relearn things.


Katy Cooper said...

"Sometimes, that means going backwards as you dissect your process and relearn things."

Well, there you: That explains some of my lost decade. I spent a lot of time unlearning things in order to re-learn them...

Robin L said...

I was actually thinking of you as I wrote part of this post, Katy, of you scribbling madly away in private, learning and practicing.

artsymommachic said...

This is off topic (loved the post as always though!!) I was looking at your On Writing section and in the links section at the bottom the link for Novelists Inc went to a page in a different language so I Googled Novelists Inc and saw it was just that you have .org and it should be .com. I hope its okay I pointed it out some people don't like that, but I would want to know.

So have you given any more thought to my suggestion that you write a book on writing? I would love that!!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I enjoy the dissecting sometimes. I've actually started putting sticky notes on some of my favorite passages so I can go back to them when I'm stuck and see how someone else masterfully accomplished what I'm trying to figure out.

Robin L said...

No,no. Thank you so much for mentioning the glitch, artsymommachic! It's fixed now and I totally appreciate it!

That's a great idea, Sherrie! Once or twice, I've taken a set of highlighters to a beloved book (paperback!) and gone through and tried to highlight different elements in an attempt to deconstruct it. (And librarians everywhere shudder in dismay!)