stop learning start writing

As a writer with no formal qualifications, i.e. no tertiary degree in writing, I have looked for other ways to learn about the craft of writing.

I’ve done many short courses, read a trove of online articles and websites, and discussed everything from dialogue to point of view with fellow writers. But how much is too much? When is it time to stop learning and start trusting your own knowledge and ability?

I’m not sure if there is a definitive answer that is the same for every writer. I think the answer for each individual lies somewhere between when the penny drops and when you know it’s time. Or maybe, when you’re told it’s time.

At the wrap up of Fiona McIntosh’s masterclass, she said something to us that struck a chord with me. ‘You don’t need anymore knowledge, you just need to go and write.’

She wasn’t saying that her knowledge and wisdom is everything, she was simply saying it was time to go and put everything you know into practice.

With so much information out there on the craft of writing – books, articles, websites, courses – it can be confusing. And the worst part is, there’s a lot of conflicting information. One person will tell you one thing, and then another will tell you the opposite.

The best thing I gained from Fiona’s masterclass was the simplicity of writing. You don’t need to follow complicated formulas or structures. You simply need to write a story that implores your reader to turn the page. Of course, it’s not as ‘simple’ as that, but that’s really what it boils down to.

Maybe I was ready for masterclass, maybe masterclass taught me all I needed to know. I don’t know. What I do know, is I no longer need to stress about the actual craft of writing and all it’s intricacies. I have enough skills, and enough knowledge to write the story(ies) that I want to write. I’m ready.

That doesn’t mean I’m not interested to read short articles from time to time. I especially love reading the journey that other writers are on. And I believe you can always learn something, and should learn something every day.

But I am no longer searching for the ‘how to write a perfect novel’ answer. I just need to write. And keep writing.

There comes a point where you need to stop searching, stop caring so much. And stop trying to learn anything and everything.

There comes a point when you just need to start writing.