The Write Course for You
Violet’s post got lost in the shuffle. I missed posting it last week but wanted to share it with you today. Enjoy!
The Write Course for You
The streams of kids returning to school in September draw our attention to education. This month we’re falling right in line by discussing writing courses we’ve taken. Several stand out for me.
Learn to Write
I started my writing career just over 20 years ago by enrolling in an Institute of Children’s Literature course, “Writing for Children and Teens.” It got me to stop dreaming and start doing in various ways. I had to pay for it, thus I felt that since I had invested the money I’d better make it worthwhile. I had a professional children’s writer as an instructor and felt challenged to do my best work so that she’d like what she saw.
Eventually I learned how to tackle tasks I was way too timid to try on my own. When I was assigned things like writing and requesting sample issues of publications and their guidelines, writing pieces for a particular market, and submitting my manuscripts, I actually popped stuff in the mail. This was before the internet was in general use, so all these things took a lot more time than they do now. But I got results. Fifteen months into the two-year course, I sold my first article.
Courses from this organization are still available (the company name has changed to Institute for Writers and under that umbrella they offer courses that teach writing for children and adults.
- Starting course for writers who target children: ICL Writing for Children and Teens
- Starting course for writers who target adults: Breaking into Print
Learn a new genre
In 2002 I enrolled in a poetry course taught by Marcia Laycock. I don’t remember much about this course (I seem to have lost my notes) but I did make some wonderful friends and benefited from their feedback. Completing course assignments also got me writing poetry regularly.
Brush up on life skills
In January, 2009 I signed up for Margie Lawson’s course “Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviours.” This course taught me how to break time-wasting habits like excessive email and social media checking, helped me determine what was important to me as a writer, and how to set goals accordingly. I have a binder-full of notes about how to take charge of my writing life (Margie’s “lectures” were not skimpy).
We were to pick and work with an accountability partner. That ended up being more of a distraction than a help (the woman I was paired with was super busy and non-communicative). Despite that, it was a good way to start a new year and I learned things I need to put into practice again!
Margie Lawson’s course Defeat Self-defeating Behaviours is available at her website as a Lecture Pack.
Tips when taking online courses
- Set aside time to do the reading and complete the assignments. What’s the point of having paid money for something that you don’t take advantage of? You’ll only get out of it what you put into it.
- I would personally avoid courses that lean too heavily on student interaction. The quality and amount of this interaction varies greatly with whoever enrolls and I’d just as soon spend my energy studying the course material than worrying about whether I’m being too quiet or too pushy in group discussions or with a partner.
- Before I sign up for a course now, I carefully examine what is being offered (of lecture notes and video tutorials) to evaluate whether it’s worth the price being charged. If a detailed course outline is not available, I don’t enroll. Several Bible art journaling courses I’ve enrolled in recently include another perk—lifetime access (you pay for the course only once and after that you can access it, with its updates and improvements, for all time).
It’s easier to take courses today than ever. Whether you’re interested in discovering if the writing life is for you, exploring a new genre, or brushing up on life skills that will benefit not only your writing but your life in general, there’s sure to be an online, correspondence, or face-to-face course for you.
Violet Nesdoly lives near Vancouver B.C. and has been active in freelance writing for 20 years. She has had articles, stories, poetry, reviews, and devotions published in a variety of print and online publications as well as publishing two books of poems and a novel. She has just accepted the position of Poetry Editor for FellowScript. Inscribe members are welcome to submit poems for upcoming issues, details HERE.