“Well, are they Kim?” a particularly anxious friend asked me.
Every now and again, you’ll get a question thrown your way that makes you evaluate your whole life. This one was mine.
I do creative and professional writing at university, so my aspiring writer friend thought I was the person to ask, since I had experiance of it.
My answer, ever poetic, was “err, depends.” This is why…
If you want to be a writer, chances are you are already writing. You therefore can already call yourself a writer. You therefore technically do not need a course to make you a writer. (However, getting paid for it is another thing.) You need to ask yourself why you write. Is it a deep feeling that motivates you to put pen to paper, or are you just not sure what to do for the meantime? Do you want to earn billions or do you want to make a living doing something you love?
Writing is a hard career. Many people write who don’t make their way in the world by writing. They pay their bills with teaching or waitressing or whatever jobs they do in the meantime. Doing a creative writing course doesn’t mean someone will knock on your door saying “I want you to write me a novel, have a billion quid to start with and we will see how you go.” It doesn’t mean you will make it.
Don’t despair. Doing a creative writing course (as long as you pick a GOOD one) will mean you pick up skills that will potentially help you find a job in the industry. I, after a year, have editing contacts and publishing contacts and author contacts etc… This means I could be earning my wages to pay my bills surrounded by the world I want to be a part of. To me, this is amazing. And I am willing to pay for the expertise of all the people that I have come into contact with. If you find creative writing courses, make sure you look for their links, their contacts, who is actually teaching and do they know people, like know people.
There is the other never ending debate. Can creative writing actually be taught?
I would say yes, as I am paying a lot of money for this.
However (again) You. Do. Not. Need. A. Course. To. Write.
That is a fact. If you have talent and send your work out, it will get seen and you will be herded to the right people who will make it better and teach you stuff and show you the correct way to do things. Just keep sending stuff out. Be a nuisance. Show yourself. Write.
The advantages I have found with my course are the fact I love learning how people learn. Our tutors constantly teach us how to teach ourselves. All of my tutors are absolute experts in their fields and are all currently working in their fields. They are active writers and editors and publishers etc. Therefore all the advice and support they give me is current. It is never out of date words from a textbook that hold no relevance to this day and age. They know all because they have done it and they are doing it.
Also, the support. My life! the support is amazing. I entered this course thinking I was one type of writer and now I think I am another. The friendship I have with the people on my course can not be bought. We help eachother, if brutally at times, we rip into eachother, we tell eachother if that was the worst thing we have ever written. And it is okay. Because we all know it is for the best. My writing has improved so much just because of the people around me. Their influence will continue long after my course is over.
So there you have it.
I always encourage further education, its fab. However, you need to know if it is right for you. We have had some people leave our course because it wasn’t the right thing for them and that is okay.
If you think honestly you can improve and you think that you might want to be in the creative industry, then go for it.
If you just want to write for yourself and are too scared to show others your work, then maybe not.
It is your decision, but if you are thinking about it, I hope I’ve helped.