Learning by Writing

“The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it.”– Benjamin Disraeli

It’s often amazed me how true this statement is. I learned a lot while I was a museum educator. I developed a number of educational programs, many of which I knew nothing about when I started. The research and fact-checking that goes into creating those lesson plans and workshop programs is really no different than the research and fact-checking that goes into writing a book.

For me, correct information was a necessity because we were trying to teach people something. We wanted them to walk away with new, verified information.

For a writer, correct information helps to draw in the reader. If you write a story in San Antonio, and talk about snow on the ground at Christmas, you’ve just lost any reader sitting in San Antonio. Write a story about Seattle and place Pike Place Market across the street from UW, and you run into the same problem (a larger one, actually, since Seattle seems to be a more literate city than San Antonio).

Use of the correct terminology for things also goes a long way toward dragging in your reader. How enjoyable would Tom Clancy’s novels be, for example, if he tried to describe things without knowledge. Those who knew what he was talking about would blow off his books. A little technobabble can be a useful thing.

I’ve often thought that I’m drawn to both teaching and writing just because they both give me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn new things.


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