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Archive for April, 2010

My output has been disrupted a few times recently because I was unable to put a full day in at my office.   I can still write on my laptop in about any location–even an airplane–but some places are more conducive to writing than others.

My office is in the corner of a brick building in “downtown” North Bend.  The building is quiet, spacious, and, most importantly, old.  There’s a presence in those two-foot thick brick walls, wood floors, and ancient windows that I can’t tap into at home.

When I’m on the road, I’d much rather find an independent coffee shop in a renovated brick building.  There was a great one in downtown Oneonta, New York, and one that recently opened on Norfolk Avenue in Norfolk, Nebraska.  Fremont, about twenty minutes away, has the Blue Bottle downtown.  The Old Market in Omaha used to have Delice… don’t know if anything’s taken its place yet.

Is it just me, or do the rest of you find an extra oomph to your motivation to write in renovated brick buildings?  Are some of you more comfortable writing at home?

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I am admittedly prejudiced about writers in Nebraska.  I mean, our idols are such greats as Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz and John Neihardt.  As current president of the Nebraska Writers Guild, my prjudice goes even deeper.  Every conference, every e-mail exchange I am exposed to people passionate about their writing, be it fiction, nonfiction, poetry or drama.  I am motivated by that commiseration.

Because of this mindset I not only write and participate in critiques of peer writings, but I also take every opportunity to teach the knowledge and skills I have gained.  That’s not because I think I have learned more than anyone else.  I do it because I have identified what works for me and it excites me to share that knowledge with anyone else who cares to listen.  And I am perfectly willing to listen to the lessons others have learned as well.  Hope I’m still listening when I’m 103 and penning yet another romance novel or screenplay . . .

In May I will be teaching an on-line class about “Writing with the Anxiety Curve” for the Guild.  (You can go to the website at www.nebraskawriters.org and check out the on-line class in the sidebar).  Right now, I am in the midst of teaching “Painfree Synopsis Writing” for Savvy Authors.  I thought I would share one of my postings to that class that is directly related to knowledge and skills:

Application of “The Learning Process” by Sally J. Walker

Some of you may be degreed educators who learned the following principles but for others I want to point out how your “Learning Process” is evolving through the following steps:

INTIAL CONCRETE STAGE . . .
1. Knowledge/Comprehension
2. Application
3. Analysis
Moving on to ABSTRACT CREATIVITY . . .
4. Synthesis/Innovation
5. Evaluation

So, at the outset, one encounters and considers new knowledge that transforms into understanding or comprehension. Then the student applies the knowledge to appropriate situations. Seeing the results of that knowledge at work, the student analyzes what works and what doesn’t. At that point in the concrete stage of the “Learning Process” the student may revert back to the first step to find NEW knowledge to apply in a given circumstance that may work better.

Once the student has found that the knowledge WORKS, repetition and testing results in the student synthesizing the knowledge or imagining innovative new possibilities not previously dictated in the knowledge-comprehension step. At that point of abstract thinking in the “Learning Process” the student becomes an innovator capable of evaluating one’s own work and the work of others.

The “Learning Process” becomes a cycle of thinking-applying-analyzing-innovating-judging.  Doesn’t matter if the process is historical research, nursing, child care, cooking, rocket science or WRITING A SYNOPSIS.

So, where are most of you right now? It is NOT a contest comparing yourself to others, but betwen you and your internal awareness. You have to successfully march through each step of the process, at least at the Concrete level. Practice, practice, practice moves you into the Abstract level.

It doesn’t matter if you are analyzing MY work, a peer’s or your own. The point is that YOU understand the concepts and apply them to the point you “automatically” identify those concepts when you move into analysis.

If you can’t analyze, can’t “see” what these examples identified, so what? Work on the step you are at until you DO feel comfortable, until the light bulb comes on. Not everyone learns at the same rate or in the same manner (despite the “No child left behind” preachings). Some concepts click immediately for some people, others take more work. Some people get stuck at Step 1 comprehension and just can’t see the logic of application. Others can apply concepts but mentally bog down about what to analyze and end up just being content “worker bees.” There is NOTHING that says in the “Learning Process” everyone HAS to move into that Abstract level as an innovator who can judge others. YOU work at whatever level you are until you achieve confidence.

With all that in mind, I ask you again: Where are you at in your “Learning Process” about writing a synopsis?

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And I ask YOU, where are you in your “Learning Process” about the craft of writing?

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