I've writing for a while, now, and I've started to notice how and when my writing evolves. When I first began to write, the simple act of writing was evolution. I learned about the process just by putting words on the page, and toying with what I had once I had it. I got better.
Then I plateau'ed out. I had reached the limit of what I felt I could learn on my own. It was time for another evolutionary kick in the pants.
When my husband and I bought our first house, I discovered that the CNY Romance Writers held monthly meetings nearby. I joined, and learned a ton (and also met some lifelong friends - a huge bonus). I got better.
After a while, I felt there was more to do, and more I needed to know. When CNYRW held a Deep Editing workshop given by Margie Lawson, I went. I learned a ton. I couldn't write fast enough. Huge leap. I got better.
Lately, I've been feeling like that "kick" hasn't been happening, no matter how many articles or books or blogs on writing I have read. Until last night, when I downloaded the e-Book of Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder.
Boom. Everything he says in this book resonates with me. As I'm reading, I'm hearing bells. That "Oh, yes!" is ringing in my head, because what he says makes such perfect sense in a concrete and achievable way. Note that he doesn't tell you how to write, so much as how to make what you've written pop. That said, it's the best shorthand guide to getting your work noticed that I've ever picked up. I suspect that after I finish this book, I'm not going to be able to stop writing.
Sadly, Snyder passed away unexpectedly in 2009, and I feel that the writing (and screenwriting) world has lost an amazing teacher. But he left us an incredibly simple how-to on making a good story sound great to buyers, and for that, I'll be forever grateful.
Moral of the story? Learn to recognize that "Oh, yes!" moment in your own writing education. Stick to it, and find more of them. Those are the road signs pointing you in the direction of your best possible work. Carry on, writers!