Do The Writing Course

Like most crafts, when it comes to writing the key is practice. Write to become a better storyteller. Write to encounter problems in your story that you learn to solve, and keep trying to improve. See the flaws in your story and gain the confidence to solve them.

When you’re starting out and you see a problem in the way a character behaves, or a flimsy story beat you might think, ‘It’s fine, nobody will pick up on that tiny thing.’ They will. And the only reason you don’t deal with it at the time is not laziness, it’s that you’re not sure how to and you’re not confident enough that you’ll be able to. You can with practice and learning more about your craft.

There are people who think you are born a storyteller and you can’t teach it. Consider these people morons, like that clown who believes climate change isn’t real and somehow has the responsibility of running a country…

I got accepted onto a Creative Writing masters years ago and a friend said to me, ‘You don’t need that, it’s for people who don’t know how to do it.’ His intentions were good but he didn’t know how badly I wanted to write. I listened to that friend and for four years I carried on working the job I didn’t love while trying to write in the evenings and weekends until I had a near breakdown and various other aspects of my life suffered. It took hitting an extreme low to decide to give up the financial security and to do the course the little voice in my head was crying out for me to do. The only reason I ignored that voice for so long and listened to all others was fear.

‘What if I do it and I am bad?’

‘Should I really spend this money on a course? I can use to go towards a home one day?’

The answer to these questions is simple.

‘What if I do it and I am bad?’ Of course you won’t be amazing at the start. You have to learn, practice, develop and exercise the creative muscle that has atrophied for years. When we first learn to walk we also suck. Accept you will not be amazing from the first word and take the pressure off.

‘Should I really spend this money on a course? I can use it to go towards a home one day?’ The big thing with doing something creative often comes down to finances. Art is hard to make money from. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. But would you rather be on your death bed looking back and think:

‘Great, I bought a home when I was 30, doing the things society expected me to do.’

Or, ‘I’m so glad I did that course which fulfilled me, where I met awesome people who shared a lot of the same insecurities, and are now some of my best friends.’

I was scared that if I committed and failed, then I would be worthless. The truth is, with writing, there is so much rejection, but you have to put it down as part of the process, and you’ve only really failed when you stop trying! You are never worthless when you’re sharing something that comes from you. 

The course was the best year of my writing life. I got to write scripts and learn theory, which at the time I thought was nonsense but has been incredible and means I understand more of what is discussed in writing books. It’s scary to take a year or two out of the norm, but you can find balance with part-time courses, and you need to think, what fulfils me?

I would recommend a writing course to anyone wanting to write. I know that’s easier said than done, because they cost a lot of money and you may be at a point in your life where you have kids and more responsibilities and feel that ship has sailed and hit an iceberg. There are courses that cater to whatever life people lead, that’s the beauty of them, you just have to dig around the internet for a while. There are even weekend ones which are cheaper and teach you the basics, which is handy if you then want to further your learning through books. If all courses are a financial burden, then if you dig around the internet long enough you can find blogs. You’d also be amazed at how friendly the writing community on Twitter is with sharing advice and experience, so if a course is a no-go, there are many ways to get more educated.

I’ve recommended some books in this post. I’m only suggesting these books because I think they’re good.

Do the thing that scares you, the thing that challenges you, and the thing that makes life seem richer. If you want to be a writer, nurture that side of your life, and put it first for a while. It’s never too late, but don’t put it off until it’s a lot later. The list of excuses only grows.

Good luck!