Writing Courses

The Pros and Cons

Maybe you have a love affair with creativity, a penchant for words, or a strong eye for detail. You may be a dreamer who can put down everything you dream or a visionary who can speak from your vision, creating masterful stories or unique marketing models.

But if you’re like most writers, you know that writing rarely comes easily. In the beginning, most writing is a murky mess.

The art of successful writing is something that is learned, just like any other art or skill. First we learn to read and write at an elementary level then we learn to put words together to form sentences. With time, we can write a story or use some expertise we’ve gained to write a non-fiction or educational piece. Perhaps we can even write poetry.

Writing that draws the reader in and keeps his interest, however, takes skill and dedication to the art. The world is full of words. Choosing the right words takes expertise, maybe even obsession.

At some point, a writer will choose to take part in a writing class or course. Classes can be a great way for a novice or writer who hasn’t yet mastered his style to learn some tricks to open up the mind’s imagination. You’ll hear various interpretations of class challenges in excerpts and assignments written by classmates, demonstrating just how many ways one topic can be written.

+College Classes

Here are some examples of what you might learn at the university level:

>Word Selection - avoiding unnecessary words, making sure words mean what you want to say, your readers’ comprehension level

>Sentence Structure - rules of grammar, sentence length and variation, active v passive sentences, overworking words

>Paragraph Structure - presenting only one main topic per paragraph, paragraph length, flow and consistency

>Editing - reading for content and meaning, spelling, punctuation, mechanics, consistency in format, tone, and style, revisions and rewrites

>Using References - dictionary, style manuals, thesaurus, and market guides

+Seminars and Workshops

Seminars and workshops are usually 1-2 days in length.

>Good quick way to spark your creativity if you’re in a slump. Being around other creative people will inspire you in new ways

>Observing this writing community with eye and ear teachs you regional colloquialisms and gives you ideas for characters

>Usually instructed by actual writers, not academics

>Workshops are fast paced and fun

>Seminars can be more informative regarding the business end of writing, i.e. query letters and finding agents or buyers

+Correspondence Courses

Mail or online courses taken privately may be less informative.

>These types of courses have specific assignments, challenging you to create pieces based on the book’s model.

>You will then send your piece to the editor assigned to you and they will review it mainly for structure with proofing notation.

>The upside is you can work at your own pace, unlike workshops or college classes.

>Having someone edit or manage your work then send it back to you leaves little room for creative interpretation

>Editors will advise you from a technical standpoint, few will inspire you to actually write.

>You may spend a lot of money for little return.

As writers, we thrive on sensory input. Finding your writing niche is important in determining whether or not you can benefit from writing classes or courses. Ask yourself what type of material you like to read, what type of expertise or technical knowledge you possess, and what type of writing skills do you have or are you willing to develop?

There’s a lot you can learn on your own but sometimes it’s quicker and more enlightening to take part in a workshop than to try to muddle through years of learning. There will still be plenty of that.

As your writing style progresses, you’ll feel less need for challenges posed by class environments. It’s always a good idea, however, to read something every day and engage with other writers at conferences, book fairs, signings, and talks. Giving readings of your own work is a great way to experience it from a different view and become inspired to do your best work.

As writers, it's our job to use words to convey what cannot be seen, to make felt through words what is seen and to bring about a sense of fulfillment and wholeness to the reader - a sense of wonderment, joy and discovery through our craft.

Knowing this, you can probably look back on your life and know that you’ve always been a writer

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