Standing Next to Smart People

standing next to the smartest person in the roomI used to try to be the smartest person in the room.

What that means is I made sure that others knew how smart I was, and if someone knew something I didn’t, it was intimidating so I avoided them.

These days I like to go stand next to the smartest person in the room. And learn from them.

Between the internet and books, you can learn almost anything. My copy of Robert McKee’s Story just arrived and I’m eager to dig in. It’s considered required reading by every writing coach I know and it’s a tragedy I didn’t discover it decades ago.

As you know if you’re reading my newsletter, I also follow a number of smart folks online.

One of my goals for this year is to find a great writing mentor, someone I can have conversations with, someone who’ll show me how I can best refine my writing. There are things best learned through apprenticeship, following a journeyman around, watching, asking questions, absorbing.

And someday, I’ll be that journeyman, learning from a master.

And on the someday after that . . .

Where do you go to learn better writing?

2 thoughts on “Standing Next to Smart People

  1. I, too, like to follow smart people online– like you, for instance! I’m also lucky enough to have a fantastic critique partner, who usually teaches me something new on every novel. I also learn by reading what sells, dissecting the author’s techniques, etc. Good luck in search for a writing mentor, Joel!

    1. Awww.

      A good critique partner is so helpful. My editor, Tom Bentley, really gets my voice, my storytelling style, my writing goals. His advice is always spot on.

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