Ten Tips for Finding a Writing Class: Number Eight

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

Number Eight: Don’t Change the Class 

This may seem obvious to most people, but it’s happed to me enough that it needs addressing. If you want to take a class on improving business writing skills, but you can’t find a class in your area on business writing, do not take a creative writing class and try to circumvent the lessons to fit your personal needs. It should go without saying that if you sign up for a creative writing class, it is just that – a creative writing class.

I am not talking about those who take a creative writing class hoping to get information on plot development, but find the class leans towards character sketches. I’m not talking about taking a class on screenwriting, but being surprised to find it focuses more on form and ignores dialogue. I’m not even talking about a prose writer who takes a poetry class hoping it will help you develop timing and rhythm. These are reasonable exceptions, and in these situations the student should speak-up and ask the teacher about relavent topics they would like to cover.

Tip number eight is talking about people who knowingly sign-up for the wrong class, assuming that they can turn the course into whatever they want.

This issue has most commonly arisen with students wishing to take a grammar class, a business writing course or learn how to get published. Unfortunately, I’ve had a students sit through an hour or two of class, or even come to several classes, before saying, ‘I’ve already written my novel. I don’t need to know this stuff. I just need to know how to get it published.’ Or, ‘I’ve written tons of short stories, I just need someone to proofread them.’

First, even if you’ve already written your novel, there’s always more to learn. Second, there are courses and lectures on how to get published and also on business writing, take one of those. Third, there are people you can pay to proofread your work; in fact, a creative writing teacher may even do proofreading on the side, but I guaranteed your work will not be copyedited in the middle of a creative writing class.

Now, I don’t want to discourage students from asking questions in class or playing a part in the group dynamics (I’ll talk about this later in a different post), and general creative writing classes may give a minimal amount of information on other related subjects such as grammar, publishing, marketing or even journalistic writing. Therefore, a small amount of information on this may be relevant. Also, a good teacher should notice if the class as a whole (or at least the majority) would like to steer the lesson in a different direction than originally planned, and then will discuss topics that are of interest to the class.

What should be remembered is that you wouldn’t take a vegetarian cookery class hoping to get tips on gardening, so don’t take a creative writing class hoping to learn about something only partially related to creative writing.

Go to:
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 Seven: Pay What You Can Afford
Tip Number Nine: Tradtional or Online Learning?
Tip Number Ten: Keep and Open Mind

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