Do you love writing and have an ambition to become a bestselling writer? You probably have an idea of what to write, but since you’re just starting out as a writer, you are probably wondering how to begin “finding your voice”. You may even be considering if you should attend a writing class.
A writing class may be one way of learning how to write a book, but you can help or hurt yourself by attending one, as it definitely has both advantages and drawbacks.
There are definite advantages to attending a writing class. Foremost, the art of writing is taken seriously here, supported in a way that doesn’t exist elsewhere. There is also a system of accountability inherent in such classes, which can be vital in the solitary art of writing.
One benefit of writing classes is that they are generally taught by veteran writers who have supported themselves or at least made some income while engaged in the writing craft. It gives beginning writers a chance to interact with and learn from established professionals, and perhaps even begin building a network of contacts for later in the writer’s career.
In a writing class, you will be asked to read your work aloud. This can be nerve-wracking for some, but you will surely receive constructive criticism from the other writers in the class. You can also find inspiration while other writers talk about difficult but interesting topics like family problems or divorce and separation. Another benefit of attending a writing class is having a tutor. For every piece of work you do, you can consult with the teacher and ask for pointers for improvement. Your writing skills will definitely be enhanced with the right guidance from an experienced writer.
Ironically, one of the pitfalls of taking a writing class to learn how to write a book is that it takes you away from the solitude of creation. While having your work critiqued by others is a decided advantage, outside advice may disrupt the flow of your writing and detract from your work rather than add something to it. If the critique is non-specific or negative, it does you no good and challenges you to explain your story before it is fully and properly told. You may therefore find your momentum halted, despite the pressure to produce for the next class.
Another disadvantage of a writing class is that sometimes, the students are even better writers than their teachers. Some of those hired as teachers in these classes have been unemployed for a long time and have accepted the job for the sake of earning a bit of income. For this reason, they do not do much good for their students.
In some classes, students do not share the same level of writing skill, which means that some may need additional tutelage to improve their writing. Time spent reading, dissecting and mentoring the work of these students will hinder other students in terms of reading their work, thus taking up time that would otherwise be dedicated to guiding other more advanced students in the class.
Look closely at the writing class before you enroll. Make sure you will be empowered, not hindered, and that your classmates are at a similar skill level so you can communicate equally. Also, look for writing classes that have already established a good reputation. This will save you time and effort with the assurance that you will get the best from the course you are taking.