Hi everyone, and welcome to the second instalment of my 'Writer's World'. Thank you to those who've written to me with suggestions on topics you'd like covered. You've given me great ideas for future posts.
In the meantime, I'm touching on an aspect of writing I hadn't really thought about before: the way we learn through teaching.
I'm not a teacher but in the past several years I've enjoyed running some workshops for aspiring writers. Yes, workshops publicise your books (I'm hoping at least a few of the attendees were interested enough to check out my books) but that's not why I agreed to get involved. For me the underlying sense was of giving back a little to the community of readers and writers that I've always found so supportive. It was at a workshop talk by Emma Darcy and Miranda Lee that I got the idea for what was to become my first Harlequin Mills and Boon book. More than that, reading articles by published authors and attending workshops by people who knew so much more about the writing world than I do helped me understand and hone my skills. They still do!
But I've discovered another huge benefit to a little teaching. I learn too. The enlightenment isn't all one way. Every time I've taught in a workshop (whether a large one at a conference or a small one at a library or festival) I've learned from the participants and other presenters. Sometimes it's a different way of looking at something - an angle I'd never perceived before. Sometimes it's a comment that makes me look at my own work a little harder and more critically.
The process of working out a schedule of topics and exercises to be covered, the finding of examples and quotes, the preparation of handouts for participants and the other research is time well spent. It's so easy to focus on the next book, the article that's due, the blog that needs to be written and the emails to be answered. Taking time out from my normal routine to focus on the theory and practice of romance writing is a little luxury that pays off for me too. I usually find some new teaching resource or quote that makes me think about what I'm doing with my own work.
In addition to the research, there's the need to distill ideas to get your point across to people who may not at first understand what you're explaining. That synthesising down is a wonderful process for me as, again, it makes me focus on whether I'm using that particular principle in my own writing.
The same happens when I read entries for a contest. It's so much easier to spot a problem in someone else's work than in your own. But when you read a first chapter overburdened with back story or with stilted dialogue, it's a wake up call to check if you're doing the same.
Besides all of that, it's lovely to be with people who are enthusiastic about reading and writing romance. I've included a couple of photos here from a Valentine's Day romance writing workshop I did with fellow author Cathleen Ross in Sydney. I was so impressed with the writing of the attendees and with their friendly and professional attitudes.
How about you? Do you enjoy teaching? Even if you're not a professional educator, many of us have mentored other staff in the workplace. Then there's volunteer work that involves helping others learn. There's passing on craft skills or teaching your children anything from catching a ball to school subjects. Do you get a buzz out of seeing others pick up the skills you're imparting? Do you get something from the process of teaching? What have you learned about yourself when you've helped others to learn?
I'll give a signed copy of my upcoming March release, GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT to one person drawn at random from those who comment. This title was just awarded a CataRomance Reviewers' Choice Award!
Annie has two March releases: GIRL IN THE BEDOUIN TENT in North America and GREEK AFFAIRS: TEMPTED BY THE TYCOON - an anthology of 3 stories available in the UK. To read excerpts of these or her other books, pop by her website, and keep an eye out for her new contest starting there on 1st March.