Always a Student, Never a Master: The Power of Beginner’s Mind
When I wrote my first book, it was an adventure. Not only was it my first major project, it was the moment I realized just how little I knew about the craft of writing.
I was two years into my professional writing career when I shifted from short stories to my first book. Sure, I’d written “books” before. But trust me, those will NEVER see the light of day. That already made this one different. I was not writing it for fun or because writing is my passion (though both of those statements are true), I was writing it with the intent that it would be published.
A whole book that was completely written by me.
At the time, it seemed like a daunting task. As I sat down those first few weeks, I realized just how much I had to learn. And with three months until the deadline, I didn’t have a lot of time to learn it.
I spent a month doing nothing but research. I had a rough outline and I had a lot to learn to fill in those gaps. I read books, watched crime dramas, read case studies, and more.
And that was just the first book.
One of my favorite things about the craft is the fact that there is always more to learn. I have an entire bookcase that is mostly research texts from various projects.
These books aren’t only about the subject matter I’m writing, but about the craft itself.
As writers, we have to constantly be improving our craft. We should never settle for what we believe is “good enough.”
I’ve seen writers settle for “good enough” — really, the amount of subpar they will allow — over and over. In fact, this ended up being one of the factors why I left a project I loved. I was the secondary writer to someone who believed they’d learned everything there was to learn about the craft. When you get stuck in a writing relationship like that, it stifles your own growth. After leaving that project, I’ve grown leaps and bounds as a writer.
Ten years ago this year, I published my first short story. Back then, I thought I knew so much…