Know Thyself

Okay, so the cryptic title is really about self-awareness. I’ve had a few great conversations this week about history repeating itself and the type of learners we are. In my conversations with friends and peers at work, it is clear we worry a lot about whether we are learning all we can from our experiences. For instance, what did we as a society learn from the 2008-2009 stock market collapse? Are we out there being careful about the types of mortgages we offer and the criteria we hold people accountable to? Probably not as much as we should be. Why? Today I wanted to “talk” about our self-awareness and particularly its role in why sometimes we don’t learn what we should.

So a bit of a disclaimer, I am not a social scientist and don’t proclaim to actually know about this subject to any degree of expertise. My ponderings here are basically a result of interactions I’ve had over the past week. I’ve also been researching different ways to learn (visually, audibly and kinesthetically) and that has prompted thoughts about how well we absorb information and how we grow in our craft—specifically referencing writers.

So a few questions…how many of you out there actually know how you learn? The reason I ask is because this has been something I’ve been trying to figure out for myself lately. To my reference in the first paragraph, I haven’t always learned from my mistakes and history does repeat itself. As this has happened, I have to wonder if it was because I wasn’t going about my “learning” in the right way to really have it sink in for me. Perhaps, I haven’t been as self-aware as I thought.

As a follow up to my first question, for those of you who do know how you learn, do you use that to improve your craft? Do you diagram plots out or read things aloud? Do you role play through scenes or trying writing different iterations of a particular scene in your story? These are only a few suggestions but at this point you may be getting what I’m saying. I feel at many times we writers become stagnant in our craft because we either don’t experiment with ways of learning that actually hit the spot, and/or we just are self-aware enough to realize where some of our weaknesses really lie. That’s where critique groups come in handy.

You task for this week – pick an area you feel you need to improve upon (writing characters, creating plots, etc.) and experiment with how you can improve that area in a way that addresses your unique learning style (and yes that means you need to find out what that learning style is). Feel free to drop a line as to how it works out.

Good luck and happy writing this week!

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