An Author’s Learning Is Never Done
There’s a concept that once you’ve done something for 10,000 hours you are proficient at it. After being a professional author for over fifteen years, I’m pretty sure I’ve reached that many hours but am I proficient? Do I know how to write? Well, yes, and no.
I still am always finding new things I need to learn. I’m always finding new techniques, new ways of organizing myself, new concepts of writing and writing craft, and I am always, always, always working on my grammar because that’s a “gift” that never stops giving. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say I know and understand grammar.
The question is, do all authors do this?
I’m pretty certain that those who claim to be professional authors do. Authors are generally the sort of people who enjoy learning, who like to improve. But every now and then I meet someone who doesn’t. Every so often, I find someone who thinks that they’ve learned how to be a writer and have just stopped trying to learn any more or stopped learning certain aspects of writing.
People like that confuse me. They baffle me.
How can you say that you’ve mastered your craft when you’ve only been practicing it for a few years? The only thing I remember learning after a few years of writing was how much I didn’t know.
I have two clients: one hired me after they finished writing their second book because they’d gotten to that point where they realized just how much they didn’t know and wanted to learn. Kudos to them!! The other has written nine books, four of which I’ve edited, and they make the same mistakes in every single book. They don’t learn and when I’ve suggested that they try to do so, I get silence back in response. They clearly have no desire to learn how to write correctly. Well, I suppose they figure that’s what they hire me for—to correct their mistakes so that they don’t have to learn how not to make them.
Well, yes, I will continue to correct the same mistakes in every book, but after a while, I lose all respect for the author who refuses to learn how to correct them. After a while, it’s simply a job I’m doing instead of the pleasure of teaching someone how to do it right. The author simply accepts my corrections and goes on without a thought and without any intention of getting it right.
What do you think? Do you continue to work at your grammar and your writing craft? Do you continue to try to learn new things and improve your writing? I’m going to assume that you do because you are here reading this blog and you know that what I do is always try to teach something. But can you understand or empathize with another author who has no intention to improve? Is it just me?
If you ever decide to learn more writing craft and need someone to guide you, don’t hesitate to reach out!