Thursday, 21 September 2017

Should You Take A Writing Course?

One of the things I love about taking a writing course is the conversations it sparks with other people. I can't count the number of times that people respond with positive questions and comments like 'I've always wanted to do that' or something similar. Usually when I pry a little deeper or say, 'why don't you?' a lot of people aren't really sure what a writing course can offer or are under the misconception that writing courses are only for a certain type of person. Well, spoiler: they are for a certain type of person - those of us who like to write.

First of all you do not need to have any type of plan or agenda to take a writing course. Perhaps you want to dabble in novels in your spare time or you are convinced you have the ability to be the next J K Rowling. Both of those are great reasons to do a course! You don't need to be a literary whizz to take creative writing. The point of you taking a class is to become a better writer. In both cases, amateurs and the blessedly gifted can become better writers. So, how do you know a writing course is right for you?

  • You want to learn. I am a huge believer that every person can learn to be better at their chosen craft. For some reason there's a belief out there that you are either born an artist or you're not. (Although, yeah it helps to have a smidgen of talent to begin with.) The latter of us are forced to live out an eternity side-eyeing our naturally gifted friends and should just throw our laptops and pens out the window. This is a) dangerous b) costly and c) stupid. Completing a formal qualification is not a pre-requisite to being a great author but a lot of published authors became great writers through learning and then practising what they have learnt over and over again. 
  • You start projects and never finish them. You wanna know how many non-books I started and got nowhere with before starting my course because I didn't know where to start and how to finish? Too many to count. Sometimes the discipline of having a tutor to prod you along is just what you need to help you achieve your goals.
  • You don't know the basics. I didn't know what filtering was before I took my course. I knew what bad writing felt like as a reader but I often couldn't pinpoint why. Sometimes it's the seemingly simple things that can speed us ahead light-years when it comes to our own writing (and oh, filtering is a biggie). 
  • You want other people to read your work and critique it. Having other writers to soundboard off is key and writing courses are often built around workshopping each others work.
  • You are an open book. Be open to learning and you will enjoy the experience, trust me. The great thing about taking a course or a writing class is that you do not have to agree with everything you are taught. Writing is an artform, a craft. It can be as experimental or ridged as you make it. The only truth I have learnt through my course, is this: You cannot edit what you don't finish
Writing courses or classes come in so many different shapes and forms that there is no one way of studying or learning that is right. You might want to complete a Bachelor of Arts, or a diploma in the subject. You might be more interested in a semester course after work or doing something online that has more flexibility in the class hours and deadlines. Whatever you chose, if any of the above ring true joining a writing course might be a great fit for you!

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