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Learn something old

Iain Broome
Iain Broome
2 min read

How many times have you thought or said, ‘I’m going to learn something new,’ but then got so far into that learning and either given up or realised you weren’t quite cut out for it?

I think we do it all the time. And I think it’s because whenever we decide to learn something new, we think it has to be a skill that’s complete untrodden territory. That it has to be extraordinary, because otherwise, what’s the point?

Learning ‘new’

Perhaps the most common examples of learning new include languages and instruments. Both wonderful things to learn, but also very difficult, especially if you have no prior knowledge or experience. Awesome, but a long, hard haul.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do those things. But how about, instead, learning something old? By that, I mean how about looking at what you’re already good at, what you already have experience in, and trying to do it differently for a while?

All write now

For me, learning old would mean something related to writing.

I’m a writer. No two ways about it. I used to be a very good footballer, I’ve even sung in a band, but believe me, I’m very much a writer. That’s my thing. That’s what I am best at.

However, I’m specifically a novelist and copywriter. They are the paths I’ve chosen and, thankfully, turned into a profession. Yes, I’ve written poetry and short scripts before, but I wouldn’t call myself a poet or a playwright.

And that’s quite interesting, I think. I’m currently working on a second novel, but I have a couple of script ideas that I’ve been toying with for years. Non-fiction material too.

Already in love

All I’m saying is this. The next time you get the urge to learn some incredible new skill that has nothing whatsoever to do with what you do right now. Think a little closer to home.

Can you expand your current knowledge and experience? Can you improve on what you already love to do? By widening your skill set in a familiar area, can you learn something old?

Chances are, in the long run, you’ll be better off improving and refining whatever you’re best at instead of putting a significant amount of energy into areas that may or may not be useful.

Just a thought. I might be wrong. And a short note to self.

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I'm the author of the novel, A is for Angelica. Every week, I send Draft Mode, a newsletter full of tips and tools that help you improve your craft and promote your writing.