What Do You Need To Take Your Writing To The Next Level?

We’ve all said it. If only I had ___ then I would absolutely be a better writer. Come on, out with it. If you had more money to buy the tools, more education, less responsibility, didn’t have to work full time, had 29 hours a day.

What is that one thing you need to take your writing to the next level?

Photo Credit: Dave Catchpole via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Dave Catchpole via Compfight cc

A lot of time we compare ourselves to the greats and that’s not fair. We say things like, if only I had the writing gumption like Stephen King, or if I could just live in Paris when Hemingway did, I’m sure I’d be able to write something grand.

The problem with this thinking is that we are not focused on what we can do right now. I am not talking about a can-do attitude, but more what we are capable of doing at this juncture in out lives. Could you write 7000 words in a week? Could you write 10,000? 2,000?

I’d like to circle back to the original statement above. What do you need to take your writing to the next level?

Does it have to be all or nothing or can you start with 200 words a day? Give up one TV show a week? Buy a portable keyboard and write in the notes section on your iphone at lunch? Can’t do an MFA what about a free Coursera class on story telling?

I believe, firmly, that you should begin exploring the path of the next level now so in three to five years to can be past that obstacle or more at peace with your schedule or financial situation. But it starts with knowing what you need or what your main challenge is. Then being creative enough to get around it or write within the confines of it.

My 7000 words in 7 days is what helps me. I needed a challenge to get me writing at full speed again. Thus far I’ve written 4113 in four days.

What do you need to get to the next level writer?

Attend Princeton, Penn, and U of M, For Free!

I like to learn. My guess is that most people enjoy learning if the topic is interesting enough. I often think about getting a Masters Degree in creative writing, however, when I think about saving up for one or the loan debt as a result, it gets a bit overwhelming. That’s why I am tremendously excited to share with you a little website called Coursera.

Coursera is a wonderland for those want to get more education on a variety of topics for free. Yup, free. Though these courses are not accredited, they are taught by professors from Stanford, Princeton, The University of Michigan, The University of Pennsylvania, and other university lending credit to the course and professor simply because of the institution behind them.

Here is the about section from the website:

About Coursera  We offer high quality courses from the top universities, for free to everyone. We currently host courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania. We are changing the face of education globally, and we invite you to join us.

The section that I am most interested in, which may come as no surprise, is the humanities section. Since I am a glutton for punishment, I signed up for three courses. They are listed below. Why did I sign up for these specific courses?

Because I am a writer and most writers like to learn. I believe there are a lot of stories that can be forgotten as time moves on and many of them contain elements that could be extracted and inserted into a story I might be writing. History, Greek and Roman Mythology, and fantasy and science fiction are three of my favorite subjects.

A History of the World since 1300

Jeremy Adelman

This course will examine the ways in which the world has grown more integrated yet more divided over the past 700 years. Princeton University

Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World

Eric Rabkin

We understand the world — and our selves — through stories. Then some of those hopes and fears become the world. University of Michigan

Greek and Roman Mythology

Peter Struck

This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. University of Pennsylvania

Here’s to hoping that my desire to learn is not larger than the amount of free time I have to do it!