I learned a lot about writing over the past year. But at the moment, it isn’t doing me a bit of good.
Some of you may know that I dedicated 2012 to learning more about the craft of writing. To that end, I took at least a dozen online classes, attended a writing conference, and read at least half a dozen writing craft books. I’ve also read writing craft blogs, two monthly writing magazines, a quarterly writing magazine, and likely other things I’m not recalling.
I know more about character arc, setting, ways to make a character’s emotional expressions more powerful, plotting, and rhetorical devices than I did at the end of 2011. A LOT more. And all this knowledge could help me greatly in making my current (or future) work in process a better, more compelling read.
But just because I have the knowledge doesn’t mean I’ll actually use it.
I remember vividly learning at least some of these things before. But did I apply them to my writing? Not necessarily. Having the knowledge is not enough – I must actually apply it to what I am working on.
This isn’t only true in writing. James speaks of people who do the very same thing with God’s Word.
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:23-25 NIV
Do you not only read your Bible, but do what it says? Do you listen to, AND put into practice, the message your pastor preaches? Do you listen for God, then act on what you hear? If not, you may not be any better off than if you hadn’t heard at all.
I’m planning to spend 2013 applying the new skills I picked up in 2012 to my writing. I will purposefully use what I have learned to improve my story.
I’ll do the same with what I read in my Bible, learn in Sunday School, and hear in our pastor’s messages. For acting on those truths will do more than bring me closer to a publishing contract: it will draw me closer to my Savior.
Are you applying the lessons you learned in 2012 to your life in 2013? Share an example.