What I Wish I’d Known as a New Writer: Writer Education

First though, a public service announcement on behalf of Benjamin Tate:


To cut to the chase, at the bottom of the post, I’m asking you to help me accumulate a list of workshops and books about writing. I’m going to put these up on the Tamago for writers who are interested. The more you can share, the better. Links are good too, as well as a little blurb about what you think and why you liked it. At this point, I’m brainstorming. Don’t worry about repeating other folks–just tell me what you know.

This is the part where I look back and I get embarrassed. My naivete is still more problematic than I would like it to be in the process of moving toward becoming an author, but I can remember thinking that I enjoyed writing because it was easy to do and it made me happy. What a great job that would be!

What I didn’t realize then is that I was doing what lots of young writers do. The process of discovery is great, but we have to learn to revise. And I did revise, but what I didn’t do was take my writing education seriously. Having some talent, I thought I could educate myself.

I did educate myself, to some extent. I read and I worked. I was never one for books on or about writing, and I had already taken many writing classes several years ago, so I figured I had this one covered. What an ego.

As I mentioned in my last post, there are a lot of good writers with talent. The only way to make my work different and unique is to figure out how to make my message shine. That means I have to get educated as a writer. I have to bite the bullet and listen to feedback. I have to seek out new and better ways to get my message across. If I could have gotten past my ego sooner, I could have begun this process sooner.

Why should you seek out this information? A friend of mine once said that her judo coach told her that perfect practice makes perfect. I’ve spent a lot of time re-inventing the wheel. Sometimes it’s good to figure things out for yourself. And other times it’s good to have someone teach you something.

There is a trap here. You could fall into someone who attends workshops and reads books about writing, and never writes. I think a balance is important. You should be writing too, not just thinking about writing or garnering someone else’s opinion.

So, where can you go to get a writing education? This is the valuable part. I’d like to compile a list of favorite workshops and books. Please comment, and I’ll pull together a couple of link posts. Here’s what I have to start with.

Application and Invite Workshops
Clarion (3 Flavors of)
Taos Toolbox
Viable Paradise

No Screening, Just Paying
Donald Maass and Free Expressions Workshop
Superstars Writing Conference

Books on Writing
The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass
Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories by Christopher Booker.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

5 thoughts on “What I Wish I’d Known as a New Writer: Writer Education”

  1. On Writing by Stephen King. Half biography, half writing book. Both halves are very good.

    Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King. Priceless.

  2. I think Dave Wolverton hosts a bunch of different writing workshops (these are of the “pay and you’re in” variety).

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