Aug 25, 2014

Stages of Learning - Again

Almost two weeks ago, I had a writing realization. The characters I was creating were too young for the genre I'm writing. Way too young.

I thought back to conversations I've had with my husband. We often will refer to Maslow's Four Stages of Learning in the processes we or our children are experiencing. The realization about my characters reminded me of it.
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It also reminded me that the transition that is the hardest is the one from conscious incompetence to conscious competence. I think it is the hardest because once you know that thing, going back you can't help but wonder how you didn't know it before. It's so obvious if we would have just known what to look for. 

I knew my story wasn't working - not the way I wanted it to. But I didn't know why. I created ideas, theories, all of these things while ignoring the prospective readers and what they want to read about. 

And so I'm starting over. But this time, I'm keeping the new knowledge in the front of my mind. I broke out the color coded post-it notes, cleared space on my dining room table, threatened my children not to move or even touch the notes, and character arcs are reforming.

It is a slow process. It will be a slow process. Until I have the character solidified in my mind, until I can think about them as real people, it will be slow. But it will be progression, and that is the most important part.

Have you had something you didn't know you didn't know? Had to start over? What techniques helped you transition to unconscious competence?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You don't know what you don't know! And once you learn it, you can't unlearn it. You can still do it wrong, but now you know you're doing it wrong.
Glad you figured out why the story wasn't working.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

It's good that you figured it out now rather than later, and it's good that you're willing to start over. Many people aren't willing to start over and keep doing the same thing again and again and then they wonder why it still doesn't work. I've had to start over with some of my work too; I took out a character that I really liked but who just didn't work in the story. It became easier to write the story once that character was gone.

Miranda Hardy said...

This is an awesome post. I had been struggling with a story I thought would be an early picture book for young kids, and I couldn't make it work for two years. Then I started thinking perhaps the characters are older and it fit so well into an early reader chapter book.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Tasha. Interesting post. Best wishes with the writing process and starting over.