Thursday, 1 May 2014

Creative Writing Courses Online.

Hi readers,

It's been awhile since I wrote again, but unfortunately I've been ill and busy and not reading much. That's why this week's post isn't a book review, but still links in with the theme of my blog. I recently signed up for and this week started an online writing course run/partly by the Open University. My mum suggested it to me as she had been looking into it as part of her offices' writing poetry for nurses' day activity. The main focus is on creating characters, so I thought I'd give it a go and see what happens.

Its' been awhile since I last talked about writing courses and it'd been interesting to see if my views have changed about them. Actually, though I wanted to focus to be more about people/writers who'd already taken course/s on writing, ( no matter what they were) and weren't new to doing a creative writing course. I know this might leave a few readers out so I thought I'd go briefly write something for the new people afterwards. Okay, so, this is going to run into an A&Q post, but it seems the best way to write it.

Question 1: why if you've already done a creative writing course be it at uni level or equal too or just online etc, would you want/need to do another?

Answer: for lots of different reasons. It could be that the course is looking at one element of creative writing that you want to improve or be introduced too. For example you might be a poet, but you have an interested in travel writing but don't know much about it, then you could find a course tailored to met that need. Due to the fact that there are a lot of different subjects and they divided into different topics that make up a general creative writing course, it means that each course can offer different things and focus or main theme subject matters. The course I'm on for example does contain all the information a new writer needs, but its key theme is creating and developing characters.

Another reason might be that you've taken a break from writing -like I have and you want to get back into it but you don't know where to start. Plus, you need some motivation and to just go back through things. Courses can be really good for this. There one aim is always about getting you to write and getting you confident about your writing. The questions and assessments they give you can help get you back in the mode and time management for writing. It also allows you to make new connects, which are always useful to have. Adding into this is if you did a course a long time ago and you need to update your knowledge.

Question 2: How useful can it be to take another course? 

 It really depends on if its' suitable for you and if you put in as much as you can. For me, writing has always been something that can't really be taught, similar to other creative areas. Yes, you can learn about, but the talent and determination needs to still be there at the end. I also believe that you never stop learning and with Creative Writing being so broad this seems very true. Some writing courses wouldn't be much use to me now as I already know the basics and a lot about the publishing industry. However, a course that is focused on online-publishing or writing horror fiction might be still be useful to me because those are the areas I'm looking at and weren't that focused on at uni.

As an add to this going to public talks and readings to can be really useful. I can learn a lot about a certain subject and meet new people. You can also get inspired too and it's great to support other writes and teachers in this way.

Questions 3: Online or classroom?

I think this just depends on the course and yourself. I've got experience with both. I enjoyed going to classes and physically meeting up with tutors and friends. Certain environments can allow you to do more work or become more focused. I would love to go back to uni and do an different or related course, but I've not got the money to do so. Doing an online course paid for or free, is actually become more popular and I'm already seeing the benefits of it. Being online means that you can go at your pace and fit it in at a good time for you. So, there's no worrying about being late or missing things. A lot of people from around the world can get on the course as most of the time there's no number restrictions. You can do it all from home or from anywhere with a computer and the internet. You are still able to talk to the tutors and other support staff as well. Lastly, the qualification you might get isn't that different from a classroom on.

Question 4: Course or Writers' Retreat/Holiday? 

To me these have always been different things. A course is were you learn and the writers' retreat is where you go to get the space and time to write. I've seen some writers' retreats that do run classes and readings. But most of the time they do seems to be for someone who is currently writing and wants sometime to continue to do so. Most of the time there are other writers there for you to meet as well. Once again this depends on what you are looking for.

Question 5: Can I run my own writing course?

This is a tricky one but I was thinking about it before. The answer is technically yes. Though it does help if you some experience and a qualification in teaching to start with. Also, having stuff published can be a big element. Where to teach and how much to charge, is something I've not really looked into. However, I'm still trying to get a writing group set up at the youth center, though I'll probably won't get paid for that. I did know someone who went into prisons to teach creative writing. Schools might also be interested. I think it'd need some research and connecting the right people.

So, I've pretty much answered everything I had my head now. Hopefully it's also give you more insight into writing courses. It really does come down to what you want to get out of it and how you want to study. I'm really wanting to get back into writing my novels and meeting other writers. I miss how we motivated and support each other and that can be a large part of the writing process. It's also easier and cheaper for me at the moment. One thing it's also allowed me to do is find a use for these notebooks I  made. Though I fear I might need some more soon!

New writers

I want to do a writing course where do I start?

I'd so recommending doing some research into the different courses out there. Also think about how much time you can commit to and if you can offered to do it. Plus, traveling and other living expenses. Uni and college courses can be very expensive now. Of course you don't have to do a writing course to start writing and self-publishing. There's lots of information and helpful people on the internet and just doing that might be more useful to people then taking a course. but if you really do want to do it then I'd say look at doing a uni course or the equal to it. Doing a whole course like my BA Hons one meant that I could write a whole range of different things, I could also work in the publishing industry or do things like editing and making content online. There are ones that are tailored or more focused on certain parts of writing. So, it just depends what you want to do.

Images from:
Handmade note books; Author's own.