I had an article in a writing magazine earlier this year about writing courses and how to choose the right one for you. I enjoyed researching and writing that article as a lot of my own personal experience was tied up in it. I did an Open University Creative Writing Course back in 2007. I decided to do it as I had started writing again (something I hadn't done since I was a child and a teenager.) Why I suddenly decided to start writing again I'm not sure. I think I needed a creative outlet in my life and writing was it. I also felt that if I wanted to try and be a published writer then this was my chance to give it a go.
I didn't know if I could do the course as I'd never attempted one like it before. And there I was, taking a huge leap into the dark, going straight for a level three writing course! Madness or bravery? I still don't know! But I am so glad that I did. Okay, it wasn't an article writing course, it was more about poetry and short story writing, leaning far more to the literary side of writing than I'd envisaged, but I still passed the course. Something that tipped me into deciding to try and become a full time writer.
I'm now doing another course which, if I'm honest, I started in Sept 2009 and I'm still not even half way through it! It's not the course. It really is me. It's a Writers' Bureau journalism course and I think because there are no real deadlines as there are with the Open University course, I'm finding it hard to commit the time to complete it. Maybe it's because I've already had a fair few articles published already? I hadn't had anything published when I started the Open University course. But there's always room for improvement and I've learned a lot from the journalism course already that has definitely improved my writing style (thank you tutor!)
I saw the journalism course folder in my drawer this morning and I felt a pang of guilt that I had neglected it. I know that I have to get through it. Something to keep me busy over some of the Christmas holidays I think! I always seem to find other writing projects to do instead, though! I have the typical writer's trait of starting something else before I finish the last project. And although having several projects on the go means you'll never be short of a submission or two, it's a pain when you can't finish what you've started and have several half finished projects you can't submit! Got to stop that.
So it's time to get a grip and get focused. The year is nearly out and although I've achieved a lot of what I wanted to with my writing - more than I ever dreamed, in fact - I need to bring all of that success and hard work together and focus it into 2011, to be a sharper, better, more organised writer.
Do you need to do a course to be a successful writer? Well no, but a course or two will give you the tools you need to know that you are going about this writing business in the right way. So, if you're thinking about doing a course to improve your writing in 2011, why not have a look around and see what's available. It worked for me - but then I needed the motivation and the structure to make sure I got my essays and writing in on time - something that has really helped me with getting my submissions out there to this day. I just need to impose my own deadlines on the journalism course and get it finished.