Can someone else prepare you?

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Writing
Tags: ,

Today’s post is going to be a bit less focused than the last. It has to do with the confusion that I am feeling towards a situation that I currently find myself in.

A group of people that I am associated with are very interested in becoming successful as writers. They have taken tons of workshops and listened to many instructors. Far more than I have, in fact. I recently heard from one of the instructors, that I am friends with, that several of them wrote in the evaluation that they felt that the instructor hadn’t properly prepared them for success. I asked him what his response was to this idea. What follows is a paraphrased version of our conversation.

“What could you do to better  prepare them?” I asked.

“I did all that I needed to. I covered everything that I told them I would and more. They were given multiple examples and several opportunities to try out what was being taught.”

“But if they feel unprepared there must be something that is missing.”

At this point he paused and looked at me, and I could see a bit of a twinkle in his eye. I felt like I was being let in on a great secret and I instinctively leaned in.

“What  is missing, Jason, is their desire to prepare themselves. If

I tell them what they need to know, based on my expertise and the results I have seen in the past there are two things that need to go with that. First, they need to trust in my expertise. There is no reason for me to pull the wool over their eyes and lie about what they need to do and know. That is just ridiculous. Second, they need to go over the information that is given and start to walk before they try to run. A lot of them want to know more information than exists, and that is just not possible, especially if they have not mastered the information that I am delving out.”

He took a sip of his coffee at this point, but I didn’t want to speak, because I had a feeling that was exactly the problem my other friends were having. Too much talking and questions and not enough reflection.

Finally he finished up. “The biggest thing that I noticed about all of the members of the last group was that not one came to me to discuss the critiques I gave them. They wrote down after the fact that they didn’t understand some of the problems I point out, but it is too late then. I can’t help an anonymous surveyor. I can use it to adjust in the future, but every group is different, and what one group understands another needs more help. If I know as I go that something needs addressing, I can do it. That is how they can better prepare themselves. When you were in my group, you did better once you figured that out. Try to pass that on to your friends.”

I could only nod. I had similar issues at first, but after expressing my concerns with my wife I went and spoke to the instructor. Had I waited until the evaluation stage of the workshop I would not be writing now.

No Twitter.

No Blog.

No First Novel.

No Short Stories.

As an author, I would be as a ghost.

Whatever you aim to achieve, don’t be a ghost.

You are as much a part of your preparation as your mentor/instructor if not more.

Work with the information they give you and master it. If you need more after that, then ask.

Don’t try to undertake too much all at once.

Enjoy the learning.

  1. Marcia says:

    Great advice, Jason. There is so much information available, no excuse for someone not learning all they can and then practicing with it.
    Hope the editing is going well!

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