No matter how long I've been writing, there's always more for me to learn. Reading other writer's work is a brilliant way to do that. Writing itself, just putting words on paper is also recommended. However, a school teacher once told me that practice did NOT make perfect. 'If you carry on making the same basic errors, you'll never improve. CORRECT PRACTICE makes perfect' is how he expressed it.
With that in mind, though they say you shouldn't take any notice of school teachers because 'those who can, do and those that can't, teach,' I try to take every opportunity to improve my writing technique.
Content isn't a problem for me. I'm blessed with a very inventive mind that is harder to rein back than it is to get going. Getting it down on paper in a manner that will keep a reader engeged is the trick as far as I'm concerned.
Many years ago, I was introduced to Barbara Turner-Vessalago's Freefall writing method and I've been attending her two UK workshops every year since.
My first attempts at novel writing are the stuff of legend. I wrote a SF trilogy with a casual, stand-offish point of view that was packed with self-conscious humour that didn't work and served only to dissipate what little dramatic tension I'd created.
Barbara taught me to write from a more authentic place. To embody what I was saying. To feel in to the characters and the situation. To drop into a place, look around, see what was happening, smell the air, listen to the wind in the trees, watch my characters react to their surroundings.
Her workshops are wonderfully transformative. She is a supremely gifted mentor and the feedback she gives is always exactly what is needed. Unfortunately, there are only two courses per year in the UK and only twelve writers per workshop. Of the twenty four potential places, though, at least half are taken up by gluttons like myself. So the opportunities to attend are very limited. If you ever get a chance, I advise you to take it because you won't regret it.
After much heart-searching, Barbara distilled her teaching into a book which provides a very cost-effective alternative to her workshops and is the next best thing.
With Barbara's blessing, I'm going to be giving a short introductory workshop to Chorley and District Writers' Circle on February 27th. Check out http://www.chorleywriters.org.uk/ if you're interested.
If you can't make it, get the book.