Everyday for ten days, I’ll post a new tip for finding a writing class.
Number Seven: Pay What You Can Afford
I’m going to address this topic with a bit of trepidation. I said in Tip Number Six, ‘if you are paying for a class, you are paying for a service’. And by paying for this service, you are acquiring the time, resources and experiences of an expert. Therefore, just as you wouldn’t expect an electrician to rewire your house for free, teachers should not be expected to lead a class for free. I’ve come across far too many situations in which the following concept prevails, ‘Oh it’s just a bit of writing. Anyone can do that.’ Some believe the ability to be literate qualifies an individual to write a novel, therefore writing classes should either be free or dirt cheep. This, certainly, is not the case.
Many instructors will teach for little to no compensation, and I have often taught for free because I had faith in my students’ abilities and knew they could not afford to pay for a class. Additionally, some local centres, councils and organisations will compensate the teacher, so that the course can be advertised at a low rate.
When approaching the cost of a course, remember that the value of a good writing instructor should not be underestimated, and if you are serious about starting a career as a writer, you should be willing to pay for your training.
But let’s get back to the title of Tip Number Seven, ‘Pay Only What You Can Afford.’ Times are tight, and only you know your budget. If you have to turn off your heating for a month to pay for your writing class, don’t take the class. First, you’ll have such high expectations of the course (the ‘I’ve sacrificed a lot for this, it better be worth it’ syndrome) you won’t be able to enjoy it. Second, there are ways to get inexpensive/free writing help in the form of blogs, writing websites and social media networks, which may be an option until you can save enough money to comfortably pay for a class.
Second, if you’ve only just started writing—maybe in journal form or a couple of short stories – don’t spend thousands on a Masters course. Or, if you’ve only got a vague notion that you ‘have a novel in you’, and you’ve yet to put any words on the page, don’t spend hundreds on some sort of intensive weekend retreat with famous authors. Instead, start small: your local community centre, library writing group, or a small evening class at the college. These should not be too expensive, and they can help you decide if this is a career/hobby/pastime/passion that you want to continue with. Then, if all goes well, think about going to the next level and signing up for a more advanced (and sometimes more expensive) class.
On this same note, if you’ve been writing for years, you’ve got stacks of short stories, or you’ve just finished your debut novel, perhaps it is time to splash out on a writing coach, intensive writing week away, or accredited course. Your budget should remain inline with your needs and expectations.
Tip Number One: Be Realistic
Tip Number Two: Stop Making Excuses
Tip Number Three: Research
Tip Number Four: Know What You Want
Tip Number Five: Help from Friends
Tip Number Six: Ask for References
Tip Number Eight: Don’t Change the Class
Tip Number Nine: Tradtional or Online Learning?
Tip Number Ten: Keep and Open Mind