Monday, January 28, 2013

Got Skills?

You've probably heard a zillion times that the best writers are well-read people.  Why is that?  Bottomline is "skill".  Twyla Tharp addresses this in Chapter 9 of "The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life".

"The better you know the nuts and bolts of your craft, the more fully you can express your talent."

She goes on to state that with absolute skill comes absolute confidence.  Therefore it is important to build skill to build mastery, and continue to practice to keep and hone your skills. 

Then, when you have gained mastery in one area, move to another.  Concentrate on your imperfections.  Do not become satisfied with being skilled in one area of your art...move on, stretch yourself.  Take a break from the confidence.  Afterall, when you are inexperienced in something it erases your fear and everything is possible.  Basically, you do not know the rules or expectations, so you just create. 

This is a perfect week for me to be blogging about skills because I am not only completing the "Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Book" e-course tomorrow, but I am also attending the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC this coming weekend.  Both are good examples of investing in the nuts and bolts of my career.  Even writing a blog and working my way through Twyla's book is building skills.

I know it takes time to work on your skills.  And it also takes money. But its quite a worthy investment.  You won't be sorry.

Ways to build skill
Attend a conference
Take masterclasses and workshops
Participate in an online writing community and/or challenge
Find critique partners

And I leave you with a quote from Twyla to sum it all up:

"We all need breadth and passion if we're going to keep perfecting our craft, whether or not there is approval, validation or money coming from it.  Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above craft.  Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering.  Combining the two is the essence of the creative life."

How do you plan to practice skill-building in the coming weeks?


  1. Good post, Marcie! I attended an SCBWI picture book workshop yesterday. I'll blog about it tomorrow.

  2. Enjoy your conference...wish I had the time to go! Maybe next year. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Marcie!

  3. My skills will be skyrocketing, soon. I'm signed up for Susanna Hill's online course. It starts in a couple of days. Yay!

  4. I've always wanted to attend one of the national SCBWI conferences, but have only gone to the regional ones. Still, those are really good too! I love taking classes too. I think I'd be a lifetime student if I could afford it. :)