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The Importance of STUDYING as a WRITER

Oftentimes, I find that my personal process tends to be backwards from that of many others. I cannot claim to be certain whether it is better to find out what you need to know and then study it, or to study for fun and let things become what you need. I'm led to believe that for most writers, they try to delve into study only when they need to know more about a topic they've involved a character or plot into.

I've done that before; in fact, I don't know much about hunting at all, yet one of my protagonists is a hunter. Because of this, I had to learn about ways to hunt with a bow, and how to skin animals, and how to navigate forests. However, for the vast majority of my writing, I do not need to go into any deeper research. Generally, I study for fun, and while I'm learning something new, I get hit with this big stick labeled INSPIRATION! I think, "Wow! Look! This can be related to this thing!"

I believe that I would benefit from slowing myself down and forcing myself into studies on things involved with my books, to polish them off as best as I can, but I also believe that because I study as a hobby, I end up in advantageous positions where what I have gets sharpened by what I learn automatically. I continually expand my horizons so that I can reshape knowledge into creation, because at the end of the day, creation is my real passion. Writing is just the medium I use most often to convey it. With this lifestyle, I am adding resource after resource to my mental compost pile, storing it away, letting it develop into something newer and better over time. The thing about this method is that it grows exponentially--every new piece of information can form a relationship with every old one, making for a constantly improving arsenal of ideas. If something doesn't work, it stays in the pile, sometimes for several years, until it finds a way to work. I know this because it has happened to me! I have had so many interesting ideas that just didn't work, and continued to not work for many months or years, and then, in the snap of a finger, they did. They just needed one new piece of information. There are some things that still don't work, but I'm at a point where I know now that eventually they will. Why? Because they require a lot of intricate explanation, and I'm still missing a few important pieces. It's better to wait for those pieces to arrive organically than to force something in and make it work. Just by being interested and wanting that thing to happen, your brain turns on to look for ways to do it, even when you are doing other things. The human brain is an incredible tool, and learning how to use it can create avenues to have it do work for you automatically.

Let me break this down for you a little bit. You have both a conscious mind and a subconscious mind: one is responsible for your choices and actions--things that you happen to--and the other is responsible for beliefs, perception, and regulatory functions--things that happen to you. Your conscious mind is responsible for focus, and it can get in the way of subconscious activity. When you're struggling to think of the right thing, and you feel like it's right there in front of you, waiting to be broken into... You're right. Your brain knows what you want. You're just blocking its route there. Get out of the way! The subconscious mind is faster than you are, and it is not held back by language. The best thing you can do in that time is to get up and go for a walk. Let your brain churn it into words for you to receive. That's how we get our epiphanies!

So what does this have to do with studying? Well, the impact is twofold--that functions as an example. I learned that extremely beneficial articulation of my process through my studies of psychology. Diving deeper into any field is destined to yield some palpable results! Secondly, the more you expand on things for your mind to digest--food for thought--the more your subconscious has to pick from while creating. The wider the variation of crops, the greater the options for the feast. Remember that comment I made on the exponential growth that it brings? Well, you can use a tomato for more than one plate, so adding that "tomato" to your repertoire gives you a multitude of options. After all... You can count the amount of seeds in an apple, but can you count the amount of apples in a seed?

A few fields that I found to have given me the most to play with for my field of tragic fantasy are: medieval history (duh), chemistry, physics, astrophysics, psychology, sociology, and geometry. Really, any field with enough study will bring out a totally amazing story that nobody else can tell, but those are the ones that have helped me the most. I've been deeply into psychology since I was 12, so I've been able to lock in a lot of super beneficial ideas that apply to writing. Every story has characters, and every character has psychology, so it's not hard to see how it actively contributes.

I'd like to talk about the downside of this route, however: it is an investment. It takes time to grow this mental garden, and you need to enjoy learning--which just means learning something relevant to what you enjoy! Do you like dragons? Learn about reptiles! Do you like magic? Learn physics and chemistry! No matter what it is, picking a topic relevant to something that fascinates you gives you a route to automatically apply it. Still, this takes time. I was fortunate enough to fall in love with storytelling when I was a child, so my studies in school had a place to connect with something I loved. Something I was building! If you only start using this method now, it may take you a year or more to start seeing fruitful results... But that's okay! Better to start now than never.

Let's discuss the other route again. There are things that are hard to find resources on, like people, and characters always need to be created with caution. The last thing you want to do--at least, the last thing I want to do--is cause harm with my characters. Stereotyping, boxing, or otherwise disrespecting certain groups of people is dangerous and is quickly falling out of fashion (thankfully). In my books, the native tribes of Central Althea play a big role in terms of the focal population. I am enthralled with this way of life that they have, and even though a wide majority of it is fictional, I try to ground it in respectful reality. That is to say, I try to focus on what they are, what they look like, what they did, rather than trying to make it sound in the narrative like it is good or bad. A character or culture may have their opinion on it, but I don't ever want to convey the idea that the book itself is telling you to like or dislike it. So, despite the fact that I have studied Native American history, I have not met enough Native Americans, themselves, to get a good grip on whether or not I'm accidentally being disrespectful. I'm looking for indigenous friends to beta read! In this way, I am trying to study more for a specific area, rather than my compost-pile idea. Things like that require a bit more energy and focus, but they are always worth it to ensure you have no loose ends. After all, as writers, we want to create something worth reading. And reading is just the art of disappearing into something else. If something is written well, you'll never know you're reading it, at all.

That's all I have for you today. Thanks for reading; let me know what your favorite topic is in the comments! I post blogs every Thursday, so be sure to subscribe to be notified whenever new blogs drop! If you want to help support me in my journey to financial independence, you can click one of the following affiliate links and check out "Limitless" by Jim Kwik to learn how to learn, or my recommendation on an amazing book that can help give you some great inspiration.

Get "Limitless" here and learn how to learn:

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