Are there any benefits of taking a creative writing class?
No one would give a piano performance without having had lessons previously, or plaster a room without looking up how to do it first.
So why do writers sit down to write a novel or a book without doing some form of self-teaching beforehand?
It is clear that creativity comes from our brain which is why some people have it, and some people don’t. But the brain still needs to be trained to release creativity and imagination in a ‘correct’ and controlled way. These classes are not a waste of money, but an investment. They could help you to increase the sales of your next book by 10%. Classes don’t promise to do these things but, in making your writing better, these things could become a possibility. Here are the benefits of taking a creative writing class.
• Learn the basic skills of writing
Okay, this isn’t primary school any more, but it is so important to return to the basics and retrain your brain in the way it thinks and writes.
These skills can be learnt by reading widely, from teen and YA (Young Adult) fiction to historical fiction. Focus on the way the authors write and how effective it is. Read in the genre you want to write in, but it is equally important to read out of your chosen genre. Read your favourite book again, but as you do so, ask yourself: “Why is it my favourite book?” What is it that grabs you? Can you transfer this into your own writing?
A creative writing class will start at the beginning, especially if you choose one created for novice writers with no previous experience. You may feel like you’re moving backwards, but it will be a fantastic start and there’ll still be lots for you to learn.
• Free your imagination and creativity
Working with a group of people instead of by yourself will open your mind to how other writers think. Someone could give you an idea for a new book, or even influence you to try writing in a different genre, e.g. short stories instead of novels. In your day-to-day life, you might spend 20% of the time using your imagination.
If you aren’t using your imagination much, constructing a fictional world can be a struggle. The benefits of taking a creative writing class is that it will help you to free your creativity, and could help you to start thinking in the non-judgemental way small children do.
• Learn the technicalities of writing
Don’t let the word “technicalities” put you off. Spelling and grammar, though it is the ‘boring’ side of fiction, is the most important when it comes to sending your work off to the agent or publisher. Spelling errors look unprofessional and will put them off.
Most, though not all, creative writing classes will have a spelling and grammar module. This side of writing doesn’t come easily to some people, but is a major part of being a writer. As shown in Benefit 1, the best way to improve upon this is through wider reading. Found a word that you don’t understand? Look it up in a dictionary and add it to a ‘spelling’ notebook. Long-term, this will help you retain spellings.
• Learn about all the genres
Some people may have already found their ideal genre. This will be the one they find easiest to write in, or the one they’re automatically drawn to. But it is so important to try all the genres to find the one that suits you best. You wouldn’t pick just one chocolate from the box and eat only that one for the rest of your life. There will be others in the box that you like just as much, if not more.
Creative writing classes will expose you to all sorts of genres, including poetry, short stories, non-fiction, writing for stage/screen, and novel writing.
Active Creative Writing Classes in the UK
Below are some of the active creative writing classes that are happening across the UK. This information is correct as of January 2017. Always research a class before joining. Click the links for more info.
Writing Courses, City Academy. Duration: variable.
Faber Academy, Creative Writing. Duration: variable.
Bomberg Writing. Duration: variable. Offers one-to-one tuition and group study.
Snowdonia Writing Retreat. Duration: unknown.
- North West
The Write Group, Ellesmere Port. Duration: 10 weeks. For beginners.
Write Fiction Books, based in Chester. Duration: Up to you. For beginners.
- North East
Limelight Classic Productions, Northumberland. Duration: n/a. For all levels.
Sunderland College Creative Writing. Duration: 10 weeks. For beginners.
- South West
University of Bristol short courses. Duration: variable. For beginners.
Literature Works course. Hypatia House. Duration: 4 weeks.
- South East
Kingston Adult Education, Surbiton. Duration: 11 weeks. For any level.
Creative Writing with Amanda Lomas, Shipley College, Bradford. Duration: 15 weeks, evenings. For any level.
Arvon Courses, Lumb Bank, West Yorkshire. Duration: variable.
Writing Classes, Edinburgh. Duration: 10 weeks. For all levels. Begins 23rd Jan!
Moniack Mhor, Writing Retreat, Inverness-shire. Duration: 5 days.
Creative Writing Short Courses, University of Glasgow. Duration: variable.