Sunday, August 09, 2020

The Challenge for Every Learner

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Several weeks ago, a reader contacted me about my book, Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. He had read the book and marked different pages in the book for additional study and action. Sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 words and this reader sent an image.

I smiled at his use of post-its in books because when I read books, I often use the same system. I mark different passages with a highlighter and post-its. Then I return to these places and apply the material to my writing life and work. It is a system that I've been using successfully in my own life for years to keep growing as a writer.
While I've been in publishing many years, have a college degree in journalism from a top university, and have been attending writers conferences and classes for years, here's the key: I still have much more to learn as a writer.
Are you continuing to grow as a writer or have you arrived? I've interviewed more than 150 bestselling authors. In this process, I've met a few authors who have acted like they have “arrived” at the pinnacle of their profession. It is not an attractive attitude to witness and in fact a turn off for me. As I have watched what happened to people with this arrival attitude, I've noticed they have faded from the bestseller lists and are now in relative obscurity. Yes still around the community but not currently producing bestselling books. If you have that “arrival” attitude, I would challenge you to change it. Make sure you have others in your life who will give you honest feedback. With this honest feedback, you can continue to grow and learn as a writer.
As writers we need to keep learning and growing. In this process of growing, there is a tricky balance between continuing to learn and taking action. To move forward as a learner, you have to be doing more than learning, , you need to apply that learning to your work. Recently I was speaking with a writer colleague about this issue: many people take courses—but don't take action (implemention—where the rubber meets the road).
There is an old saying, “Knowledge is Power.” This statement is true—but only if you act on the information in your head. For example, I know about Goodreads and how every author can select quotes from their book and add them into Goodreads quotes. You give other people automatic permission to use your quotes—and promote your book. It's good to know that fact—but worthless if you don't take action, choose the quotes and them put them on Goodreads. Several weeks ago I wrote about the details of this process (follow this link to see this article.) This is just one example of dozens of things authors need to do to take action.

Recently I learned about the free online courses from the Muck Rack Academy. One course is on social media and the other is on pitching to journalists. I've completed the course on social media and learned a number of valuable insights which I implemented into my social media. The second course on pitching to journalists, I'm about to finish but have yet to implement it into my own writing life. I am a learner but have the same challenges of every writer—finding balance between learning and implementation (taking action).
How do you find the balance between learning and taking action in your writing life? Let me know in the comments below.


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