Archive | November, 2012

What is the feeling that makes writers write?

19 Nov

Answer by Valerie Cooper:

The feeling that makes writers write is the one that makes us look for connection. With every connection we make by sharing our stories, we build a foundation for understanding and universal love. In fact, love itself is the feeling that makes us write. We can rationalize what we do, and how we practice the craft of writing, but the passion to write is a transpersonal force that leads us around like a bewitching lover who cannot be refused. All we can do is prepare for the encounter.

I have written for my living. I was trained as a visual artist but it was easier to make money with my writing skills by writing letters and sales copy and generally being verbally seductive. (Luckily I never had to sell anything that compromised my morals.) Behind the success of my writing and my career was the ability to discern a kind of organization for a set of information—to make connections—and to build bridges between people with words, which is a work of love.

So while it is lovely to be swept up in the inspiration, it is good to have organizational skills and expressive tools like vocabulary and an understanding of rhythm under your belt so you don't have to think about them, and can just write. Of course, that takes time if you don't have natural ability. But even if you have natural ability, you have to exercise it or you'll come down with verbiage. I know.

View Answer on Quora

How do track your daily learning progress?

19 Nov

How do you track your learning process?

Answer by Valerie Cooper:

Find measurable elements of your learning process and devise a way to track them.

When I have an editing job, for example, it sometimes involves a learning curve and looking  up information with which I'm unfamiliar. I keep a spreadsheet where I  record how many words are in the manuscript, and I do a couple of hours  of the work to see what my speed is. If I know that I'm editing 6,000  words per hour (estimating 300 words per page, with a good writer I can crank through 20 pp./hr), and the manuscript is 60,000 words long, I know I need a  minimum of 10 hours to do the work. I can spread that out over the time in which I have to meet the deadline. So if I have two weeks to  finish the job, and I'm giving myself a "normal" work week, that's only one  hour a day for the mechanical part of the edit. Then I can keep a  running list of my questions and spend, say, another hour each day  researching them.

I decided to take time off of a wage job and pick up freelance work in order to learn about the internet, which I am convinced is the ultimate publishing venue. In my case, I had a very nebulous goal in mind because I didn't have a framework for how I was going to approach my study. So I have floundered around quite a bit. When I have learned something, I try to find situations to put the knowledge to use immediately so that I get to know it.

You on the other hand seem to have a very specific goal and at least some kind of context for what you're learning. You might put together an outline of the material to be learned that you can revise in case it turns out there's more to learn than you first perceived. You might use an electronic workbook or journal in which you break the material into units that make sense, probably in terms of needing to learn x first before you can understand y, and record the time you spend on each subject. Learning doesn't always happen in a linear manner.

So, if you are concerned about keeping yourself on track, give yourself a trial in which you ingest the material at a comfortable pace and see:

  • How much you can take in per hour;
  • How many hours you can stand doing it in one session;
  • How many sessions in a day you can tolerate.

Be realistic about when your brain is functioning at its best and giving it breaks. Make sure you work in meal times, time with friends and family, and time to sleep and rejuvenate.

Make it fun, by working whatever your sense of fun is into the process.

View Answer on Quora