Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Are writing courses really worth the investment?

If you’ve ever gotten serious about the idea of making a living from your writing, you’ve probably also considered the option of taking one of the many writing courses that are available. Are they worth the investment of time and funds? You may feel you know all you need to about grammar and style after years of honing your craft. Friends and relatives may always be enthusiastic with their praise and compliments when they read your work. But the advice and support of a writing tutor who knows the business can prove invaluable when starting out on writing as a career.
Your writing tutor will be frank about any bad habits you may have slipped into without realising. They will assess your submissions in a supportive fashion, but you can be sure they’ll also be honest about the publication chances of any piece you send them. Their advice will help you develop your talent in its proper direction. But in my opinion this is secondary to the main benefits of investing in a writing course.
Writing for a living is a lonely business. And, if you’re new to it, it can also be very confusing and intimidating. Investing in a writing course plugs you into a community that will offer you advice and guidelines on all kinds of practical matters. It will suggest markets for your work and update these suggestions regularly. It will provide information on all kinds of areas you’ve probably never even considered; how to research publications, how to write outlines and submission letters, what legal terms like ‘copyright’ and ‘first British serial rights’ actually mean. Of course you could research these yourself but unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, you may well miss something important.
Personally I’ve found the investment in a writing course to be very well worth it. Each month I’ve received suggestions about new markets that I would have been unlikely to discover by myself. I’ve had work published as a result; not, as yet, for any great financial reward, but each success is enormously encouraging in itself. And complimentary comments from tutors and editors also fire my determination to continue doing something that I love.
I’m not writing this as an advertisement for any particular course, so I’m not naming any names. But I suggest that you investigate what’s available and choose a course that you think will be appropriate for you. Yes, you are paying for their help and support, but it really can prove invaluable as you set out on the path to becoming a successful freelance writer.

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