Friday, September 27

Fearless Learning by Jana Richards

Our theme for September is Learning/Back to School. My days of back to school with my kids are long past, so instead I thought I’d talk about life-long learning.

Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash
In my humble opinion, when we stop wanting to learn new things, we become insular and our worlds become smaller. Both of my parents were already up in age when the Internet became a thing. My mother, in particular, thought the Internet was evil (she watched a lot of TV). She didn’t want to learn anything about it or perhaps was afraid to, even before her health deteriorated in the last four years of her life. I watched her world get smaller and smaller until only the four walls of her room in the nursing home remained.

I don’t want that to be my fate.

Fortunately for me, the life of a fiction writer means there’s always a need to learn something new. Sometimes I have to learn about an occupation, a city, or a historical event so I can include it in a story and sound like I know what I’m talking about. Or sometimes I want to master an aspect of the craft of writing. Marketing is a big learning curve. And there’s always a need to learn technical, computer-type things.


Just now, as I was compiling the above list of things I need to learn, my heart made a nervous pitter-pat that I didn’t expect. I found myself feeling resistant. “I can’t do it! If I have to learn one more thing my head is going to explode!”

I believe that’s fear talking.

In August, each of the Word Wranglers talked about fears, both writing and otherwise. One of my fears is approaching experts when I’m researching a topic. I’m afraid of looking ridiculous. I don’t want them to feel as if I’m wasting their time. Even more, I worry that my lowly romance novel isn’t worthy enough for them to talk to me.

If I want to write fiction that rings true, this is a fear I need to overcome.

I’ve been putting off learning about Facebook and Bookbub advertising. I purchased Scrivenor, the fiction-writing tool that many authors rave about, but I haven’t yet put into use. I switched my newsletter from Mailchimp to Mailerlite in the spring, but I haven’t figured out how to take advantage of all the features. I’ve been telling myself I don’t have the time right now. I’ve got a lot going on: there’s my part-time day job, and my daughter’s upcoming wedding. This summer I’ve been gardening as well as painting the exterior trim of the house. Not to mention trying to keep up with housework and laundry. And aren’t I entitled to some kind of social life?


Life is always going to be busy. Something will always come up that takes time away from my writing. I have to make the time to learn, and not be afraid, even when the amount I need to learn feels overwhelming.

I don’t want my world to become so small that all I have left is four walls.

What, if anything, scares you about learning something new?


  1. An excellent post, Jana. I've printed out everything from an online class I took on social media, but "haven't found time" to actually read the lessons or put them to use. Truth is, learning IS harder than it used to be and I think that's what I'm scared of.

    1. I believe you and I took the same course so I know what you're talking about. And yeah, I haven't done much with the information other than save it either. I always blame lack of time, and certainly that's part of it, but maybe some of it is fear and some just plain resistance. I'm tired of things changing so fast. Seems I just learn one thing and something new comes along. My favorite story is about MySpace. I just finished a class to learn how to use it and I was getting pretty good at it when it was deemed obsolete. Very frustrating.

  2. I have a book on coding I bought a few months ago to help design an app idea I had. Well, I've opened the book and read the chapter headings. And that's about it. I wonder if the fear of failing is the prime motivation in procrastination. Hmmmmm…

    Great post, by the way.

    1. Margie, if you create an app I am going to be super impressed! If that's what you want to do, don't let fear stop you. Easy for me to say, however. In any event, I'm rooting for you!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Kristi! I had originally intended on writing a piece about lifelong learning, but then I had that moment of "Oh my God! This is too much!" as I was writing the piece. And I knew I had to write about fear once again. Not sure how I get over it, though. If anyone has ideas...

  4. Great post, Jana. It all rings so true w/ me...and I'm pretty sure every author on God's green Earth. Loved this!