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View Full Version : Anyone ever taken any creative writing courses?



Christyp
04-07-2010, 04:37 PM
I was active in all the writing classes in high school, but it's been a few years (no, I won't say how many) since I graduated. I signed up for a creative writing workshop this Saturday, and I'm curious as to what to expect. Is this going to be a waste of money?

shaldna
04-07-2010, 05:13 PM
It depends alot on the quality of the course, the people who attend and the level of feedback etc.

Some courses are better than others.

LOG
04-07-2010, 05:23 PM
In college, such courses seem to focus more on the form of the types of creative writing, poetry, short stories, drama, etc.

The best way to learn how to write is to just do it and then get repeatedly critiqued.

CaroGirl
04-07-2010, 05:27 PM
Depending on the other attendees, a writing course can be a good way to meet like-minded people and start a writers' group. This is the way I met most of the members of my group and we've been meeting for about 5 years now (maybe longer; time's weird).

ishtar'sgate
04-07-2010, 08:33 PM
I was active in all the writing classes in high school, but it's been a few years (no, I won't say how many) since I graduated. I signed up for a creative writing workshop this Saturday, and I'm curious as to what to expect. Is this going to be a waste of money?
A lot depends on the facilitator. Overall I have to say none of the courses I took were a waste of money. I learned something from all of them. Two stand out in my mind. The first one was taught by a published novelist and the second was taught by an acting coach. The first one gave me an opportunity to have my work critiqued by an experienced writer and the second gave me the tools I needed to eliminate selfcensorship. Have fun!

cwfgal
04-07-2010, 08:38 PM
It depends alot on the quality of the course, the people who attend and the level of feedback etc.

Some courses are better than others.

This. I took a ton of creative writing courses in college, using most of my electives on them. Some of the classes were fantastic, some not so much. I took a great fiction writing class that was taught by novelist Sloan Wilson (The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit) and the published novelist who taught one of my other fiction classes was key to my selling my first published novel three years later.

I had other classes that were less helpful, though they were usually fun. I found the type of class that lets the students write and lets others in the class critique were the most helpful for me. I also found some non-fiction oriented writing classes were helpful in odd ways, incuding technical writing and journalism.

Beth

Maryn
04-07-2010, 09:06 PM
I've taken five or six such courses over the years. More than half were worthwhile. The last one I took, I knew more than the instructor, although she had more publishing credits.

The instructor and the skills of the others students are what makes or breaks such a class. I was quite fortunate on both fronts most of the time. And like CaroGirl, that's where I met the members of my critique group, now in its 18th year, all members published by a paying publisher of some kind.

Maryn, leaving for critique group in about four minutes, as a matter of fact

kuwisdelu
04-07-2010, 09:11 PM
What everyone else said. It really depends on the people and who put it together. I've had some that were great, and others that weren't so great. All of them were fun, though.

KTC
04-07-2010, 09:23 PM
What everyone else said too. Or is that also.

It depends on the course, the people in it...and you.

I didn't take any writing courses in high school, college, etc. But I have taken a couple of small small courses through my local writing circle and they helped me amazingly! And I gained some great contacts through them too.

This December I took a writing course in Kenya...my first major course...I can't tell you how great that one was...for so many reasons.

Make the most of it.

Celia Cyanide
04-07-2010, 09:24 PM
I think that if you try, you can get something out of just about any writing course, but some are better than others.

Sometimes, you don't learn anything you couldn't have taught yourself, but it helps if you know you need the discipline. The movie I wrote and directed started out as an in class exercise for a class I took just to get myself back into writing again.

I agree with those who have said it a good way to meet people. I also find workshopping really valuable. I can workshop my stuff with the people I hang out with. But in a writing class, I can get workshopped by people who might come from a completely different background from me and my friends. You meet people in the class that you never would have met otherwise, and it's great to get their feedback.

Gillhoughly
04-07-2010, 10:08 PM
Yes. In the 12th grade.

We had a book that had us describing sunsets, writing about the pictures inside, and the course final was to write a short story. Mine was a pretty dreadful Sherlock Holmes pastiche that I cringe about today, though it got me an A+. I shudder to think what other crap the teacher had to wade through. I shredded it, but the memory--the memory of it, she BURNS!!

In college I thought about taking Composition 101, but it was too much like work so I majored in drama instead.

I still use what I learned there about scene staging, dialogue delivery, and set dressing every single day when I write.

I read tons of plays. I read tons of books.

It worked out.

Best writing course EVER. (http://www.joebobbriggs.com/jbamerica/1991/jba910510.html)

the addster
04-07-2010, 10:46 PM
Yeah, I took one.

It was down to creative writing, canoeing, or Bolivian flute dancing as an elective. I opted for creative writing. It was OK, if you didn't mind listening to a junior muse about the tortures of his "true art". I did learn about 50 ways to use the word maudlin, so I suppose it wasn't a total loss.

I'm sure my experience isn't par for the course.

Fallen
04-07-2010, 11:24 PM
I took one that looked into all forms (poetry, autobiog, etc), which peed me off considering I liked my fiction, and only my fiction. But the guy who took it knew his stuff, pricked my attention with poetry and I've not looked back since (ok, so like a teenager I keep my fiction under my bed to have a read through of a night time, but the less said about that, the better).

But if anything the courses helped me with the evalution process of my own work (critical commentaries etc), so yeah, I'd say they're worth it.

I am thus fully qualified to say my work is crap. Hah.

KTC
04-08-2010, 12:51 AM
Yeah, I took one.

It was down to creative writing, canoeing, or Bolivian flute dancing as an elective. I opted for creative writing. It was OK, if you didn't mind listening to a junior muse about the tortures of his "true art". I did learn about 50 ways to use the word maudlin, so I suppose it wasn't a total loss.

I'm sure my experience isn't par for the course.

maudlin is a really excellent word.

Shadow_Ferret
04-08-2010, 12:56 AM
In high school I took creative writing. In college I took several Fiction Workshops.

I don't think any of it helped my writing or my understanding of writing whatsoever. I did learn the word "epiphany" though.

Jamesaritchie
04-08-2010, 01:58 AM
The courses I took in college helped me tremendously. Even the one bad course I took taught me quite a bit.

I doubt money on writing courses, conferences, workshops, etc., is ever really wasted, as long as you don't let the courses get in the way of your writing.

Writing classes, conferences, workshops, etc., should be a supplement to writing, not a replacement for writing.

incognitopress
04-08-2010, 04:57 AM
Writing classes, conferences, workshops, etc., should be a supplement to writing, not a replacement for writing.
Totally agree with that. Too many people I've met regard writing as a social thing...which is probably why their books take longer to finish, or never get completed. Writing groups can be fun, but should never replace writing in solitary confinement for long, tedious periods of time... :D
The biggest thing I've ever taken from writing classes (I've only had one class in my life, and attended a summer workshop on a writing scholarship) is that I shouldn't be such an introvert....creative competition can be very motivating, and I've made some excellent friends in the process. I've learned a tremendous amount about the process of publishing, i.e. getting an agent, networking, etc, but far as what I've learned about the craft however.....nothing I didn't know already :P

Ken
04-08-2010, 05:10 AM
I signed up for a creative writing workshop this Saturday, and I'm curious as to what to expect. Is this going to be a waste of money?

... it might be. Before signing up you should have researched the workshop and even asked for referrals as well as making comparisons between this workshop and others. If you're having doubts and it is not too late you might cancel your enrollment for now and look about more before deciding on a class to take. Like others have said, you want to get a good one. A so-so one isn't going to help much. It may even hurt.

shadowwalker
04-08-2010, 05:34 AM
I took a course ages and ages ago and made the mistake of not checking up on it first. Turns out it was geared toward people who barely knew how to string a sentence together, let alone a story, so it was basically an English course, not writing. I've kinda shied away from "writing courses" since then, but I'm going to start watching for actual workshops now that the weather's better.

Matera the Mad
04-08-2010, 07:58 AM
You couldn't drag me into one with a tractor.

timewaster
04-08-2010, 12:54 PM
I've never attended one but I've taught on them. I think they can help, particularly if you find like minded people or if they provide an audience for your work and that inspires you to write more. If you have good people you will get good crits which may help you to see what you couldn't see before.

shaldna
04-08-2010, 01:53 PM
Writing classes, conferences, workshops, etc., should be a supplement to writing, not a replacement for writing.


Agreed

inkspatters
04-08-2010, 02:15 PM
I'm currently taking one of those high school creative writing classes. To be honest...I prefer just writing a lot. I find classes restrictive and generally have more fun working on my own novels. I've also definitely learnt more on my own, just writing stuff, than in any class or workshop.

Linda Adams
04-08-2010, 02:35 PM
I took one in high school and one in college. The one in high school helped transition my writing to the next level. We had a contest the first year of school, and I wrote a serial killer story called Random Choice. The teacher encouraged me to write topics I was a little more familiar with, and the next year, I won three prizes in the contest, and another one the following year.

In college, it was a different story. This was a writer's roundtable, and the teacher required a text that was his self-published book of poetry. Mostly, we did a roundtable of critiques of each others' works while he ignored the attacks from several of the group's members. There was one guy who was particularly nasty--everything needed to be literal for him, and he hated poetry. I really had a hard time when he reduced a woman to tears because he didn't like poetry in general, and she bolted from the room, never to return--and the teacher never stopped it.

I've also had a few workshops, most of the one hour kind, like at a writer's workshop. Some have been great, some have had some interesting points, and some have been "Eh." I always read the credentials of the writer now though--a local writing organization that's been around 88 years was offering some workshops. I liked the titles, so I checked out the credits of the writers, and they were all from PA. Writing on topics like "How the Publishing Industry Works" and "How to Sell Your Book." No. That was just so wrong.

shaldna
04-08-2010, 03:42 PM
I always read the credentials of the writer now though--a local writing organization that's been around 88 years was offering some workshops. I liked the titles, so I checked out the credits of the writers, and they were all from PA. Writing on topics like "How the Publishing Industry Works" and "How to Sell Your Book." No. That was just so wrong.


no. that's hillarious

Christyp
04-08-2010, 04:35 PM
The course I signed up for is at a local community college. I figured, worse case scenario I'll be out $29. Best case, I'll be as brilliant as ya'll! *wink*

C.bronco
04-08-2010, 04:48 PM
I've taken many classes (in college) and workshops through a local foundation, and have had good experiences. Being required to turn in 3 poems per week or one story per week made me produce more than I thought I'd be able to. I like writing from prompts because I then come up with something that surprises me.

I have heard stories about classes or groups ruined by people with ridiculous egos or attention seeking commentaries, but have been lucky, and experienced little of that myself.

PEBKAC
04-09-2010, 09:43 AM
For $29 you can't really go wrong. Even if the class itself is awful, worse case you'll probably meet an interesting person or two.

milly
04-12-2010, 04:48 PM
I only took one creative writing course in undergrad but did lots of writing otherwise for my Literature degree in general...but I agree with most here, any class that has you writing or thinking is not a waste in my opinion. My only suggestion would be to make sure you balance it with some reading...that's as important to me as writing everyday...read something too to keep your mind turning and your perspective fresh :)

Christyp
04-14-2010, 04:47 PM
Milly, I'm an avid reader...bordering an addiction! The class was "alright". I would've preferred to pay less, as the only thing I really go out of it was a list of books that would benefit me in the long run. It might have been better but there were two ladies that wouldn't shut the hell up! Half of what they discussed had nothing to do with what we were discussing!

wrangler
04-14-2010, 06:35 PM
i may benefit from taking one