Friday, November 15, 2013

Continuing Your Education As A Writer

A few years ago, the New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl in dramatic fashion. Although leading the Indianapolis Colts 24-17 with roughly three minutes left in the game, victory was by no means assured. The Colts were marching relentlessly down the field under the leadership of future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning, and looked on the verge of tying the score. Then this happened:

In essence, Saints cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted a pass from Manning and ran it all the way back for a score which sealed the victory. Porter later credited his pick of Manning's pass to intense study of game film; he'd seen the play the Colts were trying to run over and over again on film, and when they did it during the Super Bowl he was ready for it. In short, he put in the effort to study his craft, and now he has a Super Bowl ring to show for it.

In a similar vein, writers need to study their craft. In my opinion, that means continuing to read lots and lots of books. Personally, this is one of the more difficult aspects of my being a writer; every second that I spend reading a book is time that I could actually spend writing something. However, there's value in continuing my education as an author by stepping away from the keyboard every now and then and opening a book.

The idea of ongoing or continuing education in a chosen field isn't new. In fact, it's fairly common in certain professions. Doctors, for instance, are required to have Continuing Medical Education (CME). Likewise, lawyers must regularly obtain a certain amount of Continuing Legal Education (CLE). The idea, of course, is that continuing your education will increase your competence and make your more knowledgeable in your field of expertise.

Thus, while not formal or required, continuing your writing education (CWE?) is something you should give serious attention to. You're not likely to win a Super Bowl ring, but maybe becoming more proficient in your craft will help you win new fans. (And as far as I'm concerned, getting new fans is a Super Bowl in and of itself.)

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