Still learning the basics.

Or maybe relearning the basics. In both writing and in business.

After 36 books, and a solid six or seven years of writing, I'm still stumbling across the obvious.

It's all well and good to get advice or to read how-to books, but there is that moment when you discover something yourself and it really takes hold. I mean, I shouldn't have to touch the hot stove to know its hot, but apparently I'm one of those people.

After a few years in business, I went up the Small Business Administration and sat with a business adviser and he told me I had a "crude sophistication."

I prefer to think of it as coming to good conclusions the hard way. Learning by trial and error. Thinking for myself.

In fact, in both writing and in business, the common wisdom is often quite wrong, at least the way I do things.

Whenever anyone asks what the most important attribute for being a small business owner is, I see all kinds of suggestions but I never see what I think is the thing that has helped me the most:


Anyway, writing 36 books is certainly learning by doing. I'm probably just slow and dense, I don't know, but I seem to learn something new with every book. Sometimes probably stuff I should have known a long time ago, or even at the beginning.

I will take advice. I will accept criticism. I can be swayed pretty easily (one reason not to show what I'm doing until I'm done with the first draft.)

But I tend not to go out and seek advice. I reached a point where it seemed like what I was reading or hearing wasn't all that helpful. Of course, some of it was good stuff--but some of it was bad stuff and there isn't any real way of knowing until you've done it.

So, right or wrong, I embarked on this new writing career determined to do it my way, to trust my own instincts. I'm constantly picking stuff up along the way, but like I said, I take it all with a grain of salt. It's more reinforcement for what I already know, in most cases. Or something that is such a strong insight that I can't resist.

But the rest I'm learning by doing, and as a result I keep finding the obvious.