The Art of Teaching Yourself

Not everyone can manage to get a formal education. In some instances, the subject of study desired isn’t even offered in a class. I learned a long time ago that if I wanted to learn about something I would have to figure out a way to study it outside of formal methods.

This determination has served me well.

When I wanted to learn more about computers, I started reading books on the subject. I scavenged computer parts from discarded machines and used them to practice what I learned until such time that I managed to take an online course in computer repair.

When I desperately needed to make repairs on my home, I located a couple of books on the subject, read them, and applied what I learned to tear out walls, reinforce the studding, repair electrical wiring, insulate, and install drywall in the place of the ancient paneling that had originally covered the walls. I even learned how to take a rotting porch apart and rebuild it to make it safe.

I’ve done this with many subjects over the years. When I needed to learn something, I would either locate some books or find someone who was experienced in the subject to pepper with questions until I figured out what I needed to do.

In recent years I used this method of self-education to learn how to start writing online, then I expanded my research to learn how to self-publish books and create my own website. I built my writing business by simply teaching myself what I needed to know.

Since the markets have changed I have decided to learn how to write in a completely new genre. I’ve been studying the art of writing fiction for several years. Since romance authors are the most successful in the field of publishing (both traditional and self-published) I’m focusing on that narrow spectrum in order to build my business.

As with everything I learn, my first projects will doubtless stink. They generally do, in my personal opinion, and that’s okay. I need those first attempts in order to learn from my mistakes and to grow closer to my goal. I know that each project will be a bit better until I am finally satisfied with the results.

I have been collecting the most ubiquitous romance novels I know of to start: Harlequin novels. I am collecting every single book I can get my hands on to analyze construction, plot, and other features. I figure that once I master that format I can teach myself how to write longer works.

I intend to use the money I earn from writing these books to support my passion. I want to continue teaching people how to live on less while keeping this website as non-commercialized as possible since I cannot in good conscience encourage people to buy more than they need.

This project is not only how I plan to support myself with my current limitations; it is also a way that I can continue to afford to write about my passion. Barbara Ehrenriech discussed this dilemma in her article In America, only the rich can afford to write about poverty. It isn’t perfect, but it is the only solution I can come up with. I am not going to give up this website without a fight, any more than I’m going to just lie down and die because of an injury that severely limits what I can do to earn money.

So wish me luck, folks. I’m gonna need it.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Teaching Yourself”

  1. Good luck. Just FYI I’ve learned that contemporary romance novels are what used to be called x-rated so I prefer historical ones. Not the bodice rippers, though, the ones that are truly about romance not sex. Apparently I’m in the minority, though, so you feel free to write wha sells. But, I’d appreciate it if your book descriptions warned me about what kind yours are.

    1. Don’t worry Linda, I am writing under a completely different name now for fiction so you don’t have to worry about purchasing anything you don’t want. I’m not even sure if I plan to share that name here, to be honest. Take care!

  2. Annnie, I really admire you for the determination you have shown throughout your life. Self-education is vital skill to possess. One of the main goals I had as a homeschooling mom was to steer my kids to self-education. They are adults now and I am so happy to see that they did indeed pick up that skill.

    Yes, sadly, non-fiction writing doesn’t provide enough for an income for two, even as frugal as you are! And people who determined to be frugal will try to find any books you write on frugality for free!

    The romance genre is certainly in demand. It won’t take you long to master the Harlequin style as it is the same from book to book to book. I hope you do well enough in it so you can continue to pursue your passion. I wish you all the best in this new endeavor!

    1. Hi Cam!

      Thank you for your vote of support! I hope that I can earn enough to not only pay my bills here, but to support this website. As long as I can afford to do so, I want to help others learn to live within their means and improve their lives and I do not want to compromise my values to do so.

      Sending hugs, Annie

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