Monday, January 23, 2017

Creative Writing Classrooms – Series Introduction

I’ve learned a lot about writing from Creative Writing classes in my life, and I think many of the tools I’ve learned can be shared on this platform. Welcome to my first series, Creative Writing Classrooms! There are 8 parts to this series, updated every Monday, about what I’ve learned in the many classes I’ve taken in university and online.

Welcome to Part 1!

Are you interested in taking a creative writing class, but don’t know what to expect? I get it. I was always hesitant to take a class devoted to creative writing because, in my head, a creative writing class seemed like an oxymoron. How can you assign creativity?

I hesitated to enroll in a class because I had some personal doubts about how a class could help me as a writer. Now that sounds bad. It’s not like I thought I was such a great writer I didn’t need a class, or there was nothing I could learn. I worried because writing has always been a personal expression for me. 

How can a class, with so many other students to work with, help me as an individual to develop my writing voice? I was afraid all I could learn would be grammar and theory and nothing personally valuable.

But then I took the plunge and enrolled in a class in university. I learned so much and my writing developed so much and I have never looked back!

I also took a class that didn’t work out so well, so I’ve learned a lot about creative writing classrooms, good, bad and ugly. Hence – this series!

From the perspective of a Creative Writing student, here are a few things I think you should know before enrolling!

First: No 2 classes are the same. 
I’ll say it again – because this is the most important bit:


You cannot expect to have the same experience in a class as someone who took it before you. Even if the teacher is the same, and the syllabus is the same, the class will be different. 
The students will change. Students shape the entire dynamic of a creative writing class and drive the focus of the discussions, therefore what you will learn is dependent on your classmates (and you, of course).

Second: Be comfortable sharing your work.

Going into a creative writing class, it’s tempting to think you could coast by as a fly on the wall, learning from others without having to share your own work.


That’s not how this is going to work. If you want to get anything out of a creative writing class, not only do you have to do the writing, you must let others read it. As many others as you can get. If you are not ready to share what you write with another person, you are probably not ready for a creative writing class. (But hey, you can keep tuned in to this series and see what I learned in my classes and how to apply some of it for yourself!)

Third: There are different kinds of “Creative Writing” classes.

This sounds a bit simple, but really you should know, before going in, what the class structure is. 

Is it a workshop class? Then expect to read the work of your classmates and give feedback, as well as get feedback on your own writing (this should happen in every class, but for a workshop class, classmate’s writing is really the bulk of the material you will read). 

Is it a class for poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or some combination of the three? This will shape the theory your class will focus on and what you will read as well as write. 

Are you taking a short form class where you will write many different short stories or poems, or is it a long form class where you will focus on writing one long project like a novel? 

Finally – is the class focused on a genre, such as horror, science fiction/fantasy, romance? If it is, be sure that it's a genre you enjoy reading because that’s all you’re going to read for however long you are in the class.

Again, this seems like a really simple and obvious point. But it’s important because if you don’t know what you’re getting into beforehand, you probably won’t have a good experience in the class. So make sure you know what class you’re taking, and that you want to take it. 

You’re desire makes all the difference. 

Have you taken a Creative Writing Class? What do you think I forgot? Does this post make you more or less likely to take a class in the future?

Part 2 (coming soon!)– Writing Tools from the Classroom
Check out what tools I learned from many classes that can help you in your writing!

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