Friday, 21 September 2012

Learning to Write?

Can you be taught to write creatively? There are hundreds of writing courses out there that say that you can. But do you need writing qualifications to become a writer. The answer, I think, is no, but the courses themselves can help you to get the knowledge that you need. They can also get you writing and keep you writing - if you need that kind of nudge.

There are writers who have writing qualifications that haven't been published and those who don't have writing qualifications that have been published, so having a certificate that says you've passed a writing course doesn't necessarily mean that you will be published.

You can do writing course after writing course and never improve. Don't get me wrong - I've done writing courses and I'm doing a journalism course with the Writers' Bureau now. I've also attended many writing workshops. I've even given a couple of workshops myself. My recent attendance at the NAWG Writing Festival was also hugely beneficial and enjoyable. So I think that writing courses can and do help some people with their writing.

The trouble is that they can become addictive and not all courses are of a quality that will help writers and if you're looking at writing courses, you need to be careful about which one you think will help you. You could be wasting your valuable writing time by doing a course that doesn't suit your requirements. I've been lucky in my course choices and can thoroughly recommend the Open University and the Writers' Bureau but would suggest you look at other options as well.

At the weekend I will be doing a one day basic photography course which I am looking forward to and I'm hoping it will give me some pointers on improving my image taking. The only value in taking writing courses is if you actually take on board what you've learnt and use that information to improve your work. If you just take a writing course for the sake of taking a writing course and don't apply its teachings you're just wasting your time and money.

Another way of learning about writing is to join a writing group and tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience the members have. I've learnt such a lot from the writing group I belong to and it's been interesting for me to do a couple of writing workshops for them too.

Whether you do a course or not, you have to to keep in mind that in writing there can be no substitute for simply getting your pen and paper or computer out and writing. The more you write and learn from writing the better you will become. Of course, writing courses allow you to do just this - practise and learn about writing.

Happy learning and writing



  1. Good advice Julie. I think the journalism course I did was more about giving me confidence to tackle other things. It's great to stretch yourself sometimes even if you feel it's out of your comfort zone. Definatley worth researching before you pick a course. xx

  2. Hi, Di,

    Yes, courses can be a great help but only if they help you to move on and take those chances you wouldn't have if you hadn't done the course.