You Can’t Learn Everything From a Book!

Whenever I want to learn how to do something, I get a book. Replace the kitchen faucet? Get a book. Make a latch-hook rug? Get a book. Write a book? Get a book.

But sadly, there’s no book of instructions for the dance and spinning routines I need to learn for the color guard. And even if there was, I probably wouldn’t be able to follow it–the vocabulary and subtleties of the routines just wouldn’t translate.

What I’ve been surprised at is my inability to learn these moves just by watching them, even when I video them. (This week, I’m going to get Maddie to video me attempting a few throws and you’ll see what I mean by inability.) Anyway, the instructors can stand at the front of the group and demonstrate a million times, and it doesn’t necessarily sink in. The very basic move might, but again, the tweaks that make it work…forget it. Sometimes on rookie nights, Heather has to come stand by me and literally move my hand to the right place on the flag or move my arms through the proper motion. Like that improv game where someone else moves your limbs and you come up with something funny to say. I feel a bit like a moron in those cases, but the hands-on help works. Watching it or listening to the explanation just isn’t enough sometimes, and she literally has to move me through the motion.

I always thought my learning style was purely reading about something. But I’m seeing that doesn’t work for everything. Which has me wondering about writing, too. I love my critique groups, but we critique, we don’t write together. And most writing and poetry classes I’ve taken are basically workshops. Which are fun and helpful, don’t get me wrong.

But I’m wishing I could take part in some kind of collaborative writing group. One where you bounce ideas around and comment on each others’ work and get to see how other people actually create the things they do. Maybe you help someone else when they’re stuck and another person gives a few pointers when you’re stuck. It would be especially cool if everyone was writing on an overhead projector or something, so you could see their work visually, big. Like a group of painters with their canvasses set up all around a room. Wouldn’t that be nifty? Not for ALL writing projects, but just as a way to increase your skills and try some new things?

And just because I do learn most things from books, I’m wondering: What’s the wackiest thing you ever learned how to do from a book? (And keep it clean, people:>)

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