How many of you writers out there have taken one writing course after another in order to learn how to write (or write better)? Or who went to college for a degree in writing?
I'm curious to know who out there has learned through formal courses and who, like me, is mostly self-taught. I've taken one creative writing college course (which focused primarily on writing poems, thanks to an instructor who had a PhD in poetry and no real love of prose), but everything I've learned has been through trial and error.
I ask because, as a self-taught writer, I see what I think is a strange phenomenon in this industry: writers who compartmentalize.
Now, by that I mean that I am often amazed when I hear of other writers asking for information on one very specific and often narrow category in the writing process. These people gather grundles of information from other writers in order to study this very narrow category before they attempt it on their own.
I know there is nothing wrong with this--it's probably a great way to learn--but I taught myself to write. I didn't use textbooks. I didn't study the writing process.
I just did it.
And then I did it again.
Sometimes I wonder if this more organic way of learning actually puts me at a disadvantage. Because I'll admit that sometimes writers talk and I'm at a loss. I have no idea what they are talking about. They talk about things I've never consciously studied or thought about, but some time during my organic self-teaching I must have picked up and perfected without knowing it. And I only know that because others who have read my writing tell me so. It's like carrying on a conversation with someone with a very thick accent. I should understand them but sometimes I have to ask them to slow down and explain themselves.
But other times I think I might be the lucky one. I do think outside the box, mostly because I never learned what the box was to begin with. I also trust myself more, because this whole writing thing really has been intuitive for me.
So, weigh in, folks. I want to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think your schooling (or lack of it) has helped or hurt your own writing process? And give some examples, please!