When I was in high school, I wanted to go to college and get my doctorate. I took pride in my academic successes and thought a PhD in anything would be the exclamation point at the end of a great educational career. After two years of college, however, I reconsidered. The lectures, the early mornings, the tests – I wanted to see what life was like without them, so I got a job. It didn’t take long before I decided to never go back to school.
Ten years later, I’d love to go back to school, but there are some hindrances (mortgage, job, a hubby who would miss my fabulous cooking). Full-time schooling is out of the question, but continuing my education is not. Thanks to a variety of fabulous resources, I’m getting smarter every day.
Even though I have a degree in English, my education didn’t prepare me for a lot of the work that I do. A degree in journalism might have been better, but even that wouldn’t have prepared me for fiction writing, and I’m not sure if either of them would have given me all of the info I need to become an editor (though it’s pretty hard to write without editing, so I’m sure I would have learned something through the experience). All of this is, of course, a moot point anyway, because I already have my degree and am not going back to school full-time (see the first two paragraphs for further clarification).
So how am I learning? Where am I receiving my training?
On-line. At conferences. Writing retreats. Blogs. Websites. The possibilities are endless. Even yard sales have potential. I recently purchased Public Relations Writing, the book and work book, at a yard sale for $1. They’re five years old, but the 2010 edition is online for $45 ($100+ in some places). I’ll take my dollar deal.
I’m also tapping into my resources within my association memberships. When I have questions about anything, from editing to marketing to finding out how long it takes to cook pasta to al dente, all I have to do is ask. There are many people out there who have more experience and are happy to help me understand the concepts that confuse me. All I have to do is ask.
The hardest part has been trying to figure out what to do and when to do it. I have a whole series of teaching CDs – when do I sit down and listen to six hours of instruction? And what about the PR writing book – do I read that before or after the CDs? And then I have to schedule in the conferences and retreats, which means carving out some time from work. Those are good problems, though. I’m happy to shift my schedule, to fit in these educational activities. Not only will this help me get jobs, but it will make me better at what I do, which will get me more work.
QUESTION: What have you done to further your writing education? Where did you learn the most?