The thing is, there isn't really any formal training for storytellers. An English degree seems to be geared towards producing English teachers. It certainly doesn't teach you how to write a novel. A MFA degree seems to do one of two things: make you write 'literary novels' filled with people no one likes or make you want to be a writer without actually getting your hands dirty writing. I hear that Clarion and Odyssey might actually be able to train storytellers (which is why I'm so hot to get in there) but that door doesn't open for everyone and it ain't cheap or easy for grown ups like myself.
As a result, every writer ends up teaching themselves how to write. Oh, the basics of sentence structure and word usage can be taught, but, again, that isn't storytelling. We learn storytelling by reading stories and dreaming up our own.
In the past two or three years since I've gotten serious about writing, I've read a shelf full of books on writing advice. Possibly two shelves, I'll have to check my library when I get home. I have been trying to learn craft instead of writing by intuition* but I'm starting to think I've been doing too much 'process' reading and not enough pleasure reading. Not enough dreaming.
Pleasure reading started to feel like a luxury, something I may fit in, if I can find the time. But it's not a luxury, it's a necessity. We need to feed our bodies and we need, as writers, to feed our minds. Reading is how we fuel our imagination. I know time is tight, believe me. If you're like me, you have story ideas piled up, novels to edit, short stories to edit and submit for publication or consideration to workshops and contests. You have a life, a family, frelling video games, pets, a job. All of them screaming, figuratively I hope, for your attention.
But we need to read. We need to dream. If we don't, than dries up the well and makes writing hard. And we don't want to lose the joy of writing. So don't lose the joy of reading. Daydream. Let your mind wander, let it wonder, ask 'what if'.
Take at least one day a week to do nothing but read. If you're like me, that's as good as a vacation. And even better, it will be in service of your art and passion.
*which is how Smooth Running was created and why the ending has issues.