To Become a Master, You Must Apprentice First

The process of learning hasn’t changed, like ever. You must decide what you want to know and either find someone who knows how to do it, or find a book written by someone who knows how to do it. Today, you might add looking up a video of someone who knows how to do it. The idea remains the same, if you want to learn something, you’re best off finding a teacher in some form or another.

Photo by Will Suddreth on Unsplash

No one starts at Master

Writing is one of those hobbies where some people believe they need no guidance, where the words in all their power and beauty are hiding within them and it’s simply a matter of allowing them to flow forth. Perhaps you’ve met a few of these people, heaven knows I have. There are one of two things that happen with those who carry this belief.

The first outcome is that they simply let the words fly and fall however they may. The first draft is the only draft they make. There is no need to return to correct or improve anything because what is written is as perfect as it can get. Reality tends to blindside these people hard and fast. They try to find agents and publishers and are met with radio silence and polite canned rejections. No one understands their brilliance and in the end they often choose to self publish this unedited pile of thought to the unsuspecting world.

The second outcome is more probable. The writer tries to write their book believing it to be a fairly straightforward process. They’ve read lots of books like it and feel they have a good idea how everything is supposed to look and feel. When they start writing they find they get stuck while trying to make the words do their thing. Maybe they can create settings but not dialogue. Maybe they can do action, but not internal monologue. What’s important here, is that these writers realize that they are struggling and then reach out for help.

Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

Being willing to learn is the mark of a successful apprentice

You can’t start out any skill as a master. Even if you have lots of experience watching and reading about something, there’s something very different in actually doing it for the first time. Back in medieval times, young people would start their apprenticeship around the age of 12 when the opportunity presented itself. They would live in the home of the master and follow in his footsteps learning as they went. This apprenticeship lasted around 10 years until the master deemed the apprentice good enough to go out on their own.

That was when they became a journeyman and were allowed to use what they’d learned wherever they could find work. With time and careful practice, they’d reach a skill level that would make them worthy of being called a master and then the cycle would repeat itself.

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

― Ernest Hemingway, The Wild Years

Hemingway, the master of less than ideal advice for young writers, held the belief that writing was something that no one could master. Everyone had their own set of vices and strengths with which to deal with and throughout the course of their life they’d steadily improve as long as they were willing to put the work in to do so.

In this I wholeheartedly agree. While any writer might produce what is called a masterpiece, that work will still have it’s flaws, at least to some eyes. There is always something to learn more about and to work on.

There’s always room to grow

So, if this message is finding you frustrated at where you are at in your writing career, remember that you must take the attitude of apprentice and allow yourself to learn and grow. There are thousands of writers who have gone before you who had to pass through the same frustrations and can guide you in their writings and classes. Never stop learning or growing.

What have you learned recently?

For me, I had a surprising realization about the importance of making all characters interesting and not just the main cast. Every character should feel unique and have something that sets them apart.


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Finding answers in silence

We’re all busy

Who believes they have way too much to do and not enough time to do it? Raise your hands. Yep, even you all in the back of the room multitasking as we speak. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

If you ask anyone what they are doing, regardless of what they say, the gist is that they are busy. If they aren’t busy, then they are really busy, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll find someone who is truly experiencing that life-swallowing sensation of being extremely busy.

I get it. There’s a lot to do. Like A LOT. Some of it is necessary to survive, like earning a living enough to keep the heat on and food in the fridge. Some of it is important, like making sure clothes are clean and some of that food is actually good for you.

Then there’s the stuff that’s actually not important, but we’ve assigned importance to it. You know where I’m going with this. Things like compulsively checking social media and trying to get lots of likes on that cat picture you posted. You know the one.

Now this is the kind of silence I’d love. Anyone have a boat I could borrow? Or a lake? Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Taking a necessary break

For the last five weeks I’ve stepped way back on my social media posting because of one really terrific reason, my kiddos were home. Year-round school has a handful of benefits, most of which stem from reducing the number of kids in already overcrowded classrooms. Allowing mom to run her authoring business isn’t one of them. Something had to give.

In the past, I’d fight to keep the same posting schedule in addition to all the other authory things that needed to get done. It always resulted in frustration and anxiety. This time, I let it slide. While I enjoy interacting with strangers and the practice can be helpful to help people find my books, in terms of effective marketing and producing more books, it falls last on my priority list. When the kids are home they are my first priority. After that comes all the other stuff, like staying on top of deadlines and making progress on my new books entering the world this year.

The funny thing about social media is that it’s an all consuming affair. Trying to stay current with everything means you have to check it constantly. The urge to scroll for another few minutes, to post, to interact, to like, to be liked, and so on – can eat you alive. It even sneaks into bed with you as ideas for posts creep into your thoughts as you drift asleep. The energy and time this requires can’t be measured – except that you get less done during the day and can’t figure out why.

Be still and let deeper thoughts flow through you like a breeze, you might be surprised what you find. Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash

Lessons from the silence

What did I learn? For starters, no one really missed me. My noise was just more noise in an already noisy place. My followings and numbers and all those statistics that geeky folks like me like to track didn’t change or plummet. The world didn’t end.

What did happen surprised me. In the quiet space left in the wake of stepping away from social media, I had the freedom to consider if all that posting was doing me any good in the long run. My normal posts had no goal other than interacting. It often felt like talking into a void and hoping to be heard. In my hurry to make noise, I missed a huge piece of the puzzle – creating a way to continue the conversation once I found someone who wanted to listen.

My goal is to find like-minded readers who love the same things I love and more importantly, keep them happy and supply them with more stories and books that they will enjoy. Now, my efforts are refocused to help those readers find me. What that means is that I will be sharing more of my shorter fiction to more people – including you, dear readers.

I will have to return to the noise of social media, it’s inevitable. But, now I feel like there is an end goal in sight and a plan in place. I’m no longer making noise, I’m seeking connections.

A whole post about Silence and not one mention of this guy? This must be remedied. By the way, does anyone know why are there tally marks on my arm?

What will you find in the silence?

Have you ever dared to step away and see what happens?


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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NaNoWriMo 2019 – Halfway Point

Whoa-oh, we’re half way there … whoa-oh, livin’ on a prayer!

We just passed the halfway point of the challenge and my story ideas are turning into their own little monsters that taunt me at night. I thought I had an okay grasp of what the story needed to do. That is, until I realized that I had no actual villain to defeat. Gasp. I’ve written short stories where there is no villain and it’s worked fine, but I came to realize with a screeching halt that I’ve never done something novel length this way.

Cue the intense character naval gazing. This brings me to problem #2 – I have a set point where Isben needs to end up at the end of all this, and I can’t change it no matter how much the interesting story fairies try to convince me other wise.

This is hard.

In the past, when I’ve been bedazzled by a sparkly plot bunny, I’ve had full permission to follow it to my hearts content. That’s where some of my best ideas come from, chasing bunnies (and watching an unhealthy amount of Netflix, but I digress).

Dearest Isben, stop being so gosh darn internally complicated. I’ve had to psychoanalyze literally everything about you from your childhood upbringing and the expectations of your family, to your bizarrre irresistable urge to leave home, to how your culture has molded you into something that you feel is not right, and all to find a conflict compelling enough to drive you through this story without turning you into furniture.

That would be so much easier. Isben – you’re a couch now. Stop wanting an active role in your life and I’ll drag you to where you need to be without all the trust issues and drama. All I need is a moving truck and a GPS. You’d get there safe and sound with a minimum amount of drama.

Man, that would be dull reading.

Eyeroll. Fine. But I’m warning you, Isben, not only are you not going to be furniture, but you’ll have to struggle through every page until you reach the end. Don’t worry, I gave you a friend, he might quite possibly be the world’s most annoying bard, but he’s got a heart of gold. You’ll make it. I just need to decide in how many pieces…

Here’s to another ten days and the completion of this crazy project! Forget the treats, send a therapist.


Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list.

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Meet the Cast: Mirelle Pathara

Mother to Katira, the main character in Stonebearer’s Betrayal, and companion to Jarand, Mirelle is both a nurturer and councilor. In sticky situations, she is the one most likely to stay rational and calm and keep the other characters from making rash decisions. This works well because both Katira and Jarand both tend to let their emotions guide their actions.

“Healing Silverstars” By AnthonyFoti

From her youth, Mirelle has been passionate about the healers art. It came as no surprise that when her powers manifested, her strength and talent aligned with this passion leading her to join the Order of Healers. She is unique among healers with the power, as she also has gathered a wealth of information regarding medicinal herbs. This knowledge is put to good use in the small town of Namragan, where she lives with Jarand and Katira and works as the town’s healer.

Among her peers, Mirelle is considered one of the best Stonebearer healers, second to Master Firen the head of the healing arts at Amul Dun, the mountain fortress of the Stonebearers.

Katira grew up watching her mother work healing the sick, tending to the wounded, and preparing salves, tinctures, and other medicines, all with an expert hand. Katira admired her mother so much in this ability to make people feel better that she begged to learn the healing art as well. As soon as she could lift the heavy mortar and pestle she pulled up a chair and worked alongside her mother. When Katira was old enough to announce her trade as a young teen, she proudly declared she would follow in her mother’s footsteps.


Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Want to learn more about the cast of Stonebearer’s Betrayal? Check out these posts:

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Discussion

Do you have a favorite mother character in fiction? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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Don’t miss it, Stonebearer’s Betrayal received another wonderful review this week from book review blog “Why not? Because I Said So!”

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Thanks for joining us today! If you’d like to be notified of future posts, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.

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