Ten Tips for Finding a Writing Class: Number Three

Everyday for ten days, I’ll post a new tip for finding a writing class.

Number Three: Research

One of the biggest mistakes is signing up for a class at random. It’s listed in the community centre bulletin or at the local college. It seems simple enough, but without a little research a writing class could become a disaster.

I’ve had students in my class who only wrote poetry, to find that the class focuses on prose. Students have also come to my class expecting a very specific teaching style and were disappointed in my methodology.

Sometimes it’s as simple as reading the class description. You’d be surprised at how many people pay good money for a class, and don’t even know what they’re signing up for.

If the class description does not provide adequate information, call the institution which hosts the course and ask for more specifics. Often the person answering the phone won’t have answers, but they should be able to put you in contact with the teacher, and a good teacher will take the time to speak to a future student. If you can’t get any answers from the institution or the teacher (perhaps they are away on holiday), try to find others who have taken the class. Or get online and try to find classes that are recommended by your local library, community centre, or writing group, and ask that recommending organisation for further information on the class.

For example, years ago I had a student approach me about taking a class I was teaching. It was a very general writing class that covered basic topics like importance of character, building narrative, and describing the scene. The course was aimed at those beginning a project, and this particular student felt she needed guidance on a novel she had already finished. She was looking for an ongoing class that allowed her to workshop specific scenes from the novel each week. Obviously, the class she approached me about was not really what she was looking for.

However, at that time, I was starting a writing group and I thought this would be better for her. She joined the group, edited her novel, wrote a second novel, and has recently secured a publishing contract for that second novel. By asking questions, and finding the group that was right for her, she was able to get exactly what she wanted out of the class.

Like everything in life, asking a few questions can help make an informed decision.

Go To:
Tip Number One: Be Realistic
Tip Number Two: Stop Making Excuses
Tip Number Four: Know What You Want
Tip Number Five: Help from Friends
Tip Number Six: Ask for References
Tip Number Seven: Pay What You Can Afford
Tip Number Eight: Don’t Change the Class
Tip Number Nine: Tradtional or Online Learning?
Tip Number Ten: Keep and Open Mind

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