As an author, you've got so many moving parts to think about: writing, marketing, sales and advertising, customer service...the list goes on and on and whether you're a traditionally published author or an indie, most of it falls squarely in your lap. And it can be exhausting.
Then here I come along and tell you everything you're doing isn't enough—you need to find time for learning, too. I can just hear the long suffering sighs from here.
I don't have a magic wand to help you manage your time better (the moment I think I have the solution, poof! it disappears. A true magic trick), but I can make you a promise.
I promise that the time you spend learning, will pay you back tenfold one day.
If you spend twenty hours taking an online course about business management, you'll save yourself forty hours of hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing at tax time.
If you spend the weekend at a writers' conference, when you could be writing, you'll find you write better and/or faster with fewer rounds of edits and revision.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends" - Benjamin Franklin
I know some people who go to conferences not to learn, but to visit with friends. I love visiting with friends, too, and that fills a different need in me, but I want to encourage you to take a close look at the classes being offered next time you attend a con. You might be surprised by what's being taught.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of learning. It doesn't come easily or naturally for me. With my ADHD, sitting through a class—especially if the seating is tight, the room is warm and the teacher is less than animated—can be tantamount to torture. The more experienced you get as a writer, the more you'll know 99% of what the teacher is teaching, and you'll probably know the subject even better than them.
But it's not the 99% you're there for. You're there for that one golden nugget. That one line, comment, suggestion or example that when you hear it—and you're ready for it—can blow your writing and career out of the water. One golden nugget can take your writing to a whole new level, infusing you with a newfound love for the work.
And if you're at a conference with a full schedule, you have the potential to come home with a dozen golden nuggets. Think of the riches you could gain from twelve nuggets of awesomeness?
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” - Henry Ford
If you never get these boosts of newness to lift your work, I think you'll find it becomes lack-luster and uninspiring. Doesn't mean you can't still tell a good story, but is that what you want? Good?
Here at the dojo, we're all about excellence and never want to stop learning.
I'm headed to the Storymakers Writing Conference next week, and I'm excited for it! I'm teaching a couple classes, but I can't wait to take some of the awesome classes they're offering. There are so many, it's going to be hard to choose!
Keep on training, my friends!