One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to study and learn. Writers need to “write what you know”, whether they knew it before or they learn it after the muse strikes.
I remember once watching a movie in which a character was a perpetual student. He would receive a generous inheritance as long as he was a student, so he never left school. I was jealous. I wanted to be a perpetual student.
Now, as a writer, I get to be a student again. I alternate the study of writing craft (grammar, plot, characterization, world building, etc.) with the study of topics ranging from early Renaissance Italy to teenage pregnancy.
Every novel inside me will require a different level of study, but each asks me to read and learn and grow. And I love it.
As a namer, I also have to do a bit of research. I have used Yahoo! and Wikipedia to help me learn about different cultures’ naming, about geography, about diaspora, and about a multitude of tiny details. I haven’t always been able to find the information I need to do the best job, but I’ve always put in what I could to do my best in the time allotted.
That’s the thing about writing—and naming. It asks you to do your best to understand, enlighten, and entertain.
So today I’m going to look up a new detail for my newest WIP, I’m going to muse on what detail will help me edit another WIP, and I’m going to read randomly to find inspiration for that next great idea: Because, as a writer I am a perpetual student of life.