Recently, I’ve been judging writing contests for an online group called Ink & Insights. At first, I was concerned it would take up too much of my valuable editing and writing time, but as I do more and more of them, I realized two things.
- Reading a variety of novels has helped me as a writer and an editor. As I read through each selection, I have to read it as a reader – not an editor. That is sometimes hard for me. What’s worse, these are words that have not yet been completely edited and, sometimes, NEED my editing skills. (In fact, I may have already picked up a new client thanks to this work.) But when I read as a reader, I can get into the story, pick up the nuances and appreciate each writer’s unique style. It doesn’t have to be my style – I can appreciate them for their style alone. It also has shown me that even with editing issues, a story can still shine.
- Reading a variety of novels has increased my worldview. This is so important. Typically, in my editing work, I deal mostly with Christian works. On rare occasions, I get the chance to edit something secular. I rarely read Christian works in my spare time, but are almost always secular fiction (Dystopian is currently my favorite genre.). But judging so many different types of work has broadened my worldview even more. I am learning dialects and views of people in different countries. (Be sure though, my Christianity is still intact. I do not read works that encourage practices that are far out of line with God’s word. It is equally important to align yourself always with God first.)
As I continue this work, I’m encouraged by the amount of writers out there – many of them who are very decent writers, too. This work has also stimulated me to step out of my comfort zone in my writing as well. I’ve written much more since starting with Ink & Insights. I think it’s because I see that even a rough piece of work can have potential.
So this week, as I try to put more words down on paper, I’m hoping to take what I’ve learned from these other writers and put it into practice. One that I know I need practice with? Getting words down on paper. They can’t help, encourage, inspire, or stimulate someone else if I don’t write them first.
How about you? What are your goals this week? Do you find ways to stretch yourself and seek out new ways to learn your craft? If so, what works for you?