Never Stop Learning

By Julie, freezing in Boston

This week we held a social media workshop at StageSource. My job for the evening was to welcome the attendees, thank the presenter,  lock up afterwards. I mean, I know how to use social media. What could I possibly have left to learn? I sat in the back, and brought my knitting.

I took five pages of notes.

Mary Liz Murray of Streamix Consulting reinforced what I knew. But she also updated me on some new tips and tricks, had an excellent list of best practices, and introduced me to a few new products. (Hello Feedly, I suspect we are going to be great friends.)

51CEI9FeruL._AA160_At Crime Bake, I bought Paula Munier’s new book, Plot Perfect. I plan on reading it after my edits are done on this book. It’s not that I don’t know how to plot, it’s that I can always use some new insights on what to think about.

Just this week I started a series of sessions at AGM’s Nonprofit Learning Institute. I teach the subject at Emerson, but this time I’m a student. I’m already inspired by the conversations, and can’t wait to have more conversations. And I know I’ll learn a ton.

I’ve been thinking about how fortunate I am to have opportunities to learn what I already know, or at least thought I did. I had a professor once who referred to it as adding to your toolbox. She talked about how critical that was, since the same set of tools didn’t always work for every situation, and often they stopped working all together after a while.

So what does that mean? I have three tips to share:

If you are a writer, you have to keep learning. It is part of the job. And not just research learning. Craft learning. So go to that workshop, or stream the lecture.

Be open to learning new things. That may make you uncomfortable, since it may mean you need to unlearn old habits or ideas. But how great is that?

At some point, your knowledge base will be obsolete unless you keep adding to it. This is easy to understand thinking about the computer industry, where programs are outdated all the time. But the same is true for you. For a long time you can live with internal upgrades, but once in a while you have to reboot.

This doesn’t only hold true for writing. No, indeed. What recent workshops or classes have helped you rethink old lessons long ago learned?

20 Thoughts

  1. Whether writers, teachers, or members of the medical profession, we are all lifelong learners. I spent much of my “off” time going to classes. 🙂

  2. Julie – you’re so right on. I’ve recently been spending a lot of time with personal development learning at work. A lot of it is things I’ve already learned, but I’ve found ways to think about things differently that are so helpful. Great post – and how did I miss Paula’s book? Buying it today!

  3. Agree. We’re lucky that our brains are infinitely expandable! Also off to buy Paula’s book – no idea how I missed it (and she’s the guest on Jungle Red Writers today, too).

  4. The older we get, the hungrier…for knowledge. I had a friend who said he wanted to go to jail so all he would have to do was read books. I agree…to a point. Thx for sharing. I’m gonna check out feedly ASAP.

  5. I didn’t take a class at Crime Bake this year — for the first time. And I feel like I missed something. Attending the citizens police academy was a great learning experience. And Julie what would I do without you keeping up with all the social media?!

  6. That’s what I treasure about my “second career” as a writer–that I am constantly learning. Whether it’s research for a book or learning my craft, I am always learning, and therefore never, ever bored.

  7. Even as an accountant, I’ve learned some new things in my new jobs over the last couple of years. Not just how one company handles something, but about little things I didn’t even know needed to be done because I had never experienced them before.

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