As authors, we often get caught in a trap of our own making. We get in a rut, writing the same genres, the same lengths. For some, this can lead to writer's block. For others, it may not cause problems, but it may limit how much stretching and learning you're doing within your craft.
In order to hone your craft, it's important that you keep learning. Whether that means reading craft books, attending writer's conferences, or simply trying new things.
1. Craft Books
One of the top craft books is Stephen King's On Writing. You don't have to write horror for this book to be helpful, because it's not genre specific. King was a teacher and professor, and brings that to his craft memoir.
Another book I hear recommended quite a bit is Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass. If you've ever been to one of his workshops, you know he can fire up an entire room of people, and his books aren't any different.
Bird by Bird is a good book on craft. It's by Anne Lamott, who brings humor and inspiration together in a guide to the writing life.
Two more I'd recommend are The Art of Character, by David Corbett, and Cheryl St. John's Writing With Emotion, Tension, & Conflict. Both are well written and do a great job addressing their specific topics.
2. Writer's Conferences
For those lucky enough to have a local writer's conference, that's the best place to start. It's easier when you're in a familiar place and not having to mess with flights and transportation. If it's close enough, you won't even need a hotel, making it as inexpensive as possible. If you have to travel for it, I'd recommend finding a general writing conference if you're a newer author, and a genre specific conference if you're past the basics. Try to research those you've seen friends recommending, and don't be afraid to ask them directly about the conference to see what they have to say.
3. Trying Something New
This one's easy and cheap. In fact, it's free! Do you typically write novels? Try a short story, flash fiction, poetry, or essay. Do you usually write a specific genre? Consider giving another genre a go. If you usually write mystery, try your hand at a romance. If you usually write memoir, try a fantasy piece. Write in a different world than your own. Make yourself uncomfortable.
If you need help trying something new, look for writing prompts online. Writer's Digest has some, but there are many beyond that. If you're on Instagram, search for prompts. You'll find a ton. Who knows? Maybe it will lead to your next great story.
What do you do to further your writing education? What books would you recommend on craft? Have you attended any conferences you'd recommend? Have you stretched yourself by trying something new recently?
**Pen Clip Art, OCAL, clker.com