Are Creative Writing Courses Worth It?

By on May 2, 2016
Are Creative Writing Courses Worth It? - Writer's

There is a lot of debate within the writing community about whether or not creative writing courses are actually useful and beneficial to budding writers who want to make a name for themselves in the industry.

There are a huge number of different creative writing courses out there. Anything from University degree programmes to online courses, classes and one day workshops. If you look them up, you’ll see what I mean, and also see the very mixed reviews and opinions that people have around them.

Creative writing courses can also be hugely expensive, can take up a great deal of time, and many require effort and dedication to get the most out of them. As with anything, you can get bad courses and excellent ones. So really it is about summing up whether a creative writing course is right for you. Therefore, the best way to find out is by asking yourself the following questions.

Do you need inspiration?

Often writing creatively is a lonely business and a creative writing course can be just the thing you need to get those creative juices flowing and get you back on track.

Are you trying to learn something specific?

Do you need to brush up on your grammar, or do you want to know how to write great characters, or you need help formatting your manuscript? Whatever you end goal is make sure you are clear on what you hope to get out of a creative writing course, and then find one that best suits your needs.

Are you terrified of sharing your writing?

Writing courses will undoubtedly, at some point, expect you to write something, and to share it with others. If you have never done this before, and the thought of reading your work aloud in a group absolutely terrifies you, then, well, go for it. Overcoming your fears and silencing that inner critic is imperative if you want to write creatively. Writing groups and courses are often very sympathetic places for new writers. Others in the group will no doubt be nervous too, and will critique your work sensitively and helpfully. It is a great way to bite the bullet, face your writing fears and gain some confidence too.

Do you want to find out if you are any good?

Perhaps you are just starting out as a writer. It’s a passion, and you have written the odd piece here of there, but before you pack in your day job, you want to find out if you are any good. If you do, a writing course can be helpful. Particularly one where your work will be critiqued and marked honestly, and fairly by someone who really knows what they are talking about!

Do you want a qualification to help you get work?

If you are looking for a specific qualification to enable you to work in the writing world then know exactly what it is before you pay out. Many creative writing courses will give you a professional, recognised qualification that you can put on your resume. This could help you when applying for a number of jobs, so could be extremely useful for your future career.

Really it all comes down to personal experience. I took my MA in Creative Writing and it completely changed the way I write, helped me realise that writing creatively is all I want to do, and enabled me overcome my fear of letting people read my writing. I am also quite sure that had I not gone on it I would never have written my book, nor would I have chosen to write as my career.

However, I am sure there are many people out there who have found them boring, uninspiring and useless! So the best advice to give is to do your research, read as much as you can about the details of the course, what you can expect, and what you will get out of it. Read reviews and ring up the course administrators to ask them questions. Armed with all the knowledge you can you should be able to make an informed decision about whether a creative writing course is worth it.

If you do decide to take one, give it your all, and you never know, it could change your writing, and your life in ways you had never imagined!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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