Okay, so I was getting my daughter’s summer classes all worked out (she is accelerating her HS program) and I started to think about my own education – the way I hone and fine tune the craft of writing. I am in editorial edit mode with my nonfiction writing – that always helps with honing a craft. I’m in query mode with my fiction…and that helps too.

But what else should I be doing?

I thought about the books and fab posts I’ve read about the craft, thought about the classes that I have taken at conferences, the classes I may want to take…

And it got me thinking…

What is my “plan” for improving my writing? Hmm…other than writing daily and working with my crit partners, I am not sure.

I thought about taking online classes…but which ones?

I thought about other books that are out…but which ones do I want to read?

So, since my plan is weak at the moment – I thought I’d ask you guys…

What’s your plan for improving your craft? Are their books or classes you have loved? What are they and why did you love them?

All of your feedback is greatly appreciated…


13 thoughts on “Working the Craft…

  1. Hey, Christine. What a great post topic 😀 I’m not big on reading how-to books, but the two I liked the most were Donald Maass’s WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL and Sol Stein’s STEIN ON WRITING. For most of my writing improvement, I read, read, read, read, READ like crazy. I try and get in 2-4 books per week. (And actually the best thing that improved my writing was/is non-fiction freelance writing. Having spent years working for a paper, a magazine, and copywriting for businesses has taught me to pare down my writing like nothing else.) Great post – I’m looking forward to seeing what plan you come up with!!

    1. Stein’s book is fabulous…as is Maass’s. I write psycho-educational reports for a living (about 100+ a year) – those force you to trim your writing as well! Thanks for your feedback…

  2. Great topic, Christine–let me know what you decide, cuz I’m not sure what I could do other than practice, practice, practice, get crits, practice, practice, practice, LOL! 😉

  3. I’ve resisted reading “writing” books like crazy (not sure why lol) – but I’m enjoying the one you suggested to me on outlining and am thinking I may have to rethink my whole boycott on them. 😀

  4. I have also been thinking about this topic recently. Stephen King’s “On Writing” was inspirational for me. I began reading Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” The first thing I began doing was the morning pages. For two days. Then I skimmed the rest of the book and personally felt like the rest was a bunch of “blah blah blah” that seems to keep repeating throughout the book. The morning pages idea is still golden, however, and I intend to get back on track with that one! I also intend to continue to do writing exercises from “Room to Write” by Bonni Goldberg. “Save the Cat” was very helpful even though it is geared for scriptwriting. It has good pointers on using a story board and on pacing. Currently I am reading “Sacred Contracts” by Caroline Myss. It isn’t specifically about writing, but more about finding the purpose in one’s life.

    As for online writing groups, many years ago, I found http://www.coffeehouseforwriters.com/ which has a couple of critique groups. They used to charge so I didn’t join them. I don’t think they charge anything now. Through that group evolved the one I’m currently in: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CHPercolator/ members take turns providing daily writing prompts for the group. This is strictly voluntary and you don’t have to provide prompts to participate. If any of the prompts inspire you, use them to write! If you want, you can submit what you wrote and you will usually get at least one comment with encouragement and praise, though not a detailed critique by any means. If you would like a more objective critique, you can request that when you post your writing and if anyone feels up to it, they will oblige–it just sort of depends on everyone’s schedules–like I said, kind of a casual group, but there are some very talented writers.

  5. I’ve been doing self-study for the past year or so, including an online revision course. I have some books, read blogs, and I’ve analyzed my writing from just about every angle I can possibly think of.

    Honestly, at this point I think I’m doing more harm than good. So my plan for the next 6-8 months (until sometime after NaNo in November) is just to write. To not worry so much about craft and analyzing and thinking and studying…but just write. I’ll see where I’m at then, but at this point, all the “studying” is just starting to stifle my voice and creativity.

  6. I think I got a bit burnt out reading about craft in college as an undergrad and in grad school, so I tend to shy away from books specifically geared towards it. But I actually learn a lot by just reading books in and outside of my genre. And reading for my CPs actually helps a lot too because it forces me to investigate why I’m stumbling on certain sentences or why certain passages aren’t working. This has actually helped my own writing immensely.

  7. Reading and writing teaches me more about craft than anything else. Books on writing are fun and I’ll probably always be reading one, but only two have truly taught and inspired me: One Writing and Bird by Bird.

    I don’t think I’d do well in a class room setting. My plan is just what I’ve been doing: reading, writing, and reading about writing. 🙂

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