How Did You Learn to Write?
A friend and fellow writer asked me this recently. I know that he teaches writing at a college, and of course has a degree in writing. I think my answer surprised him.
I didn't take writing in college--I have an AA degree in Early Childhood Education--but this is what I told him:
I have always read a lot( and still do) and that's where my learning began.
When I wrote my first book, my sister took chapters to a critique group (I couldn't find on in my area), and they taught me a lot, especially about point of view.
An agent, who didn't sell my book, gave me a lot of feedback on how to make my first book better.
I subscribed to and read Writer's Digest faithfully for years. And I read books on various topics about writing.
Attending writing conferences always taught me something new. (I'm talking about conferences not conventions.) I've been to so many some strictly about general writing, others aimed at the mystery genre.
And probably the most valuable of all is my attendance for many, many years to a critique group. I still belong and value their input and suggestions.
One particular member who spent so much time helping me was Willma Gore. She has great wisdom and insight on how to make writing better. Though she's in her late 90s she still runs critique groups where she lives now.
Biggest tip of all is that I've never stopped learning.
My favorite writing conference is the Public Safety Writers Association's annual conference. There is a pre-conference writing workshop that will focus on specific phases of writing. The conference itself has panels on writing, but also on various type of law enforcement and other fields of public safety. This is a great conference for mystery writers.