Writing Craft: How to Study Like a Professional Writer

(This is from my writing craft series; you can read more on Patreon. Please note that these first posts are about things that aren’t strictly about the craft of writing, but the craft of surviving as a writer, if you will, because I want to get them out of the way first.)

Read; read wisely; study what you read.

We talked about setting goals versus establishing habits. Setting goals is one of life’s great meta-skills. We’ve talked about reading, and how to do it more often, and we’ve talked about reading wisely.

What remains is to discuss how to study what you read.

But before we do that, I’d like to talk about avoidance behavior, a term borrowed from psychology to describe the actions that a person takes to escape from difficult thoughts and feelings.

Avoidance Behavior and How to Avoid It

Avoidance behavior or “coping” is a blanket term for many different types of behavior that occur when you’re trying to avoid doing something.* It is not procrastination, per se, although procrastination can be a part of it.

I am not a psychologist, so I can’t speak professionally about avoidance behavior. I want you to be aware of the possibility of its occuring, though; I recommend researching the matter through other sources if you think avoidance behavior is a problem for you.

In short:

  • You want to accomplish something.
  • That something is difficult.
  • You find yourself avoiding the task.
  • You may also find yourself avoiding the task so thoroughly that, at the time, you’re not aware that you’re avoiding the task.
  • Later, you realize that you have been avoiding the task, or avoiding even thinking about the task.

If you have ever sat down to write and found yourself mysteriously cleaning house, cruising social media, or watching a movie instead, then you have experienced avoidance behavior.

(Continued here.)

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