26 April, 2011

Back to School

I feel like the time has come for me to have just a little bit of formal writing training. It is undoubtedly the case that you can't make a bad writer into a great one through education - there needs to be some spark of talent - but I think you can take an adequate writer and make them a good one. After all, even the best musician needs a little help to become a virtuoso! Therefore, I am planning to sign up for the Writer's Bureau comprehensive creating writing course which covers everything except poetry. This course is the biggest writing correspondance course in the country but I am aware that it is far from perfect. I am sure I would get a better class of education at the Open University or Open College of the Arts, but for me the Writer's Bureau has one or two advantages. Firstly, although still a good chunk of money, the whole thing costs as much as a single module at a more prestigious institute does. Secondly, its emphasis is on becoming a commerical writer. I am not interested in gaining a qualification - I have a degree, I don't need another. My main motivation for taking a course like this is just to have a regular amount of feedback and a little more structure to my writing, rather than to become an academic, and this course will hopefully provide that.

Opinions on the course are somewhat mixed, but I think if you go into it without thinking it's going to make you rich and without hoping for more than you are paying for, then you have a better chance of being satisfied. A lot of people have said that they have been unable to finish the course because of the amount of work set, but it is designed to be flexible so you only have to do the bits of the course you want to do. This suits me very well as I can work around whatever projects I have on and you are allowed to take several years over the course if you need to. I think I could just continue writing and reading as that approach is gradually making me improve anyway, but I am aware that getting that one bit of feedback on the opening to my novel at the end of last year taught me more in 15 minutes than I had taught myself in months. If I am serious about writing then I need to be serious about letting my work be criticised by people who know what it takes.

In other news, I have been working on a short story the last couple of weeks. I was moderately pleased with it, but something wasn't quite right and then yesterday I had a flash of inspiration and tried writing it in a mixture of tenses and so far I like the results. Hopefully I will get it finished today or tomorrow and entered into the ACW competition. I have also had some very good news from other quarters in the last week, but I am waiting for it to be made official before I indulge in a smug, self-congratulatory post! At the moment however, the lure of writing is competing with the lure of the great outdoors. Husband and I spent a wonderful day on the moor on Saturday with just the ponies, wild violets and a particularly persistent cuckoo for company - it's wonderful to be spending our first spring in such a beautiful place. Writing may be about life, but I strongly suspect life is about walking in the sunshine.


  1. like a lot! At least I can comment on here! Thanks for your post about browsers Chloe, I've done it and am now awaiting results!

  2. Thanks CJ - I hope the new browser sorts out your problems!

  3. Great stuff, Chloe! I'm sure you're probably right to do a course and get the regular crits. If you'd like an early b'day/late Xmas present as part payment for it, just let a parent know. Onward and upward! :-) xxx

  4. Thanks Mumma. Luckily I have a hard-working husband for that sort of thing!

  5. Hi Chloe. I apologise for not getting here more recently but I'm here now. I enrolled on the Writer's Bureau course a couple of years ago and I'd recommend it.
    Having said that, due to my interest in short story writing I've lapsed a bit on the articles and other subjects.
    I may be taking my time on the course work but when you see the syllabus you know it's going to take a while.
    I reckon it will suit you perfectly because you have such a great attitude to your trade.

  6. That's really good to know Tom, thanks. I'm not doing the course for qualifications or even really with the expectations of making money. It's more just a way of experimenting with different genres and getting a bit of regular feedback.


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