Creative professionals have a variety of learning options at their disposal. Some choose to seek out their training through traditional academics while others prefer to rely on their own personal motivation. Personally, I’ve enjoyed both learning conditions, and can see the good and bad qualities of each.
Before I became a writer I was a freelance animator and video producer. I received my degree in video production but learned all I know about animation by just doing it. Here’s what I’ve deduced about each of the processes.
Formal Training: I’ve found that learning in a structured environment can be more methodical and slower than learning on your own. In traditional academics, instructors often give broad coverage of the material, so you learn everything, even if it’s something you’ll never actually need or use. However, you do have the benefit of asking questions and getting one-on-one guidance if you need it.
Self-Taught: Learning ‘on your feet’ can be faster, but you’ve got to make sure to read everything you can along the way. When I was teaching myself how to animate, I was learning different software applications on a project by project basis. I was having a fantastic time absorbing new software like a sponge, only to find out later I barely knew what the software could do. As soon as I got myself a book, I was able to fill in the gaps and become fully proficient in the software.
And now I’m learning how to write by way of lots of books (and coffee). I have a feeling many writers are developed this way, so it’s completely normal for me to do this. I’m reading as much as possible and writing every day; what I have gleaned to be the two key factors towards writing success.
The most important thing in all of this is to always be learning, regardless of how you choose to do it.