It’s my nature to be inquisitive. I love research, both in writing and in life. If I want to know something, I google the shit out of it until I’m satisfied. But I also like to scratch curiosity’s itch by asking people questions, taking classes, and attending workshops. I never know when someone will say something that flips a switch, even one I hadn’t realized was off.
Within the past two weeks I’ve been to two conferences put on by local chapters of Romance Writers of America. At Houston Bay Area’s Starfish Conference, Melinda VanLone spoke about book covers and Tracy Brogan discussed small moments and working humor into any story. At Northwest Houston’s Lonestar Conference, Damon Suede presented workshops on branding and creating power couples (and so much more). I’m not ready to think about book covers yet, and branding is barely on my radar. But I’ll remember the things I’ve learned from these conferences later, when I do need them. I had several lightbulb moments during Damon’s workshop on voids and verbs that had me speeding home to my computer, eager to apply these new techniques immediately.
Last month I took Terry Odell’s online class on writing romantic suspense, which answered questions I didn’t realize I had. I’m currently taking a class on weapons for writers, taught by Wendy Rome and Mark Pfeiffer. I’d decided it was time to learn about guns from the experts. I hadn’t counted on them also discussing head wounds, a timely assist for my current book. And the resources they’re providing for everything from poisons to stab wounds are invaluable. I’ve already signed up for a class next month on intrigue techniques by Colleen Thompson. I never pass up an opportunity to take one of Thompson’s workshops.
I look for learning opportunities everywhere. My only caveat is that the knowledge doesn’t come at the expense of my writing. My classes and conferences are rewards for putting words on the page, not excuses for being unproductive.
No matter if we’re young or old, novice or professional, successful or not, none of us are so transcendent that we can’t pick up nuggets of wisdom from others. I will never stop learning.