It’s not something I usually mention on this blog, but up until June 2016 I was enrolled on a writing course. Having attended the graduation ceremony last week, it gave me a lot to think about, specifically on how it has affected my writing. My writing is another thing which I’ve chosen not too talk too much about on this blog, though I have talked about it a few times in relation to my Camp Nanowrimo entry back in July (still editing it so no chance of doing the one for this month). As a result I think it might be worth mentioning about my writing and how this course has changed it.
I know that there is a lot of stigma attached to writing courses and speaking from experience it can be hard to find one which works for you. When searching for my BA I went through the universities within travelling distance, starting with the ones with a reputation but ultimately found them lacking. In the end I found the one I was looking for in a rather humble University block attached to a college campus (for you Americans, college in the UK typically refers to somewhere which gears towards practical courses aimed at training for 16-18 year old who have just left Secondary School). This BA course offered what I was looking for, namely variety.
You see, as a writer my interests have always varied beyond prose fiction and have extended to things such as film and comics and have had as much experience writing comics as a kid as a did prose, if not more so. This course offered everything, scriptwriting, prose and comic writing, in addition to a non fiction module which I didn’t have too much interest in but nonetheless suited the interests of some of the people attending the course. As a whole it offered everything I could want as a writer and played a key role on how my writing developed an introduced me (or reintroduced me in the case of comics) to subjects which I would otherwise not have considered viable writing paths.
There was also a bit of crossover between the various modules as well. For example, learning how to write film scripts improved my prose fiction since the simple, concise style bled over to my prose as I spent more time writing in the script format. Prose was not my strongest subject in terms of assessment results and realising I could take what I’ve learned from the other subjects helped me get back on my feet with it when I decided to get write short stories in my spare time. Yet the best part of it all was the feedback and the opportunity for a tutor who knows what they’re talking about to to pick apart my work and in the process point out flaws within my creative process that needed to address. The feedback from peers and tutors alike gave me confidence in my writing and showed me ways of looking at my work that had never occurred to me before. It wasn’t all smooth sailing but I think it changed my writing for the better.
I wouldn’t say it’s turned me into some perfect professional who can instantly write perfect pieces of fiction and I still suffer from a lot of the same problems I did when I started, but what it has taught me is how to deal with them and to recognise them whenever they pop up. The one notable change in my approach is that I now spend longer editing longer pieces, which is in part why my current novel is taking so long to write in addition to the fact that I am still trying to find my voice within the prose format. If anything I would like to say this. Writing courses aren’t all bad, there are good ones out there and if you are looking don’t hesitate to take the plunge. At the end of the day you don’t truly know if it will work out for you until you try.