As we get closer to the start of a new year of writing classes, we will be welcoming plenty of new writers to our programmes. Perhaps you’re still considering whether to take this step or you’re curious about what’s involved? Wherever you are on your journey, we thought it would be a good idea to give you some sense of what to expect from a creative writing course and some indication of the exciting challenges you are likely to face.
You Will Share Your Work
If you want to be a writer you will want other people to read your work. This can be scary at first, especially if you’ve put lots of time and care into your writing. Sharing work for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. But, don’t worry! We won’t throw you in at the deep end! We put a lot of emphasis on support in our writing groups and our tutors take great care to introduce sharing work gradually and, importantly, when you are ready.
You will work initially in pairs and small groups, sharing your responses to writing prompts from your tutors and talking about what you have learned from the exercise. As you learn how to critique each other’s work in positive and constructive ways, you will begin to share longer pieces and get more detailed feedback from other writers in your group. You will be encouraged to be bold and experiment with your writing and your tutor and fellow writers will support you in this process.
You Will See Your Work in New Ways
Maybe you’ve got a stash of unpublished novels underneath your bed, or perhaps have only recently realised your love of words, but no matter what relationship you have to writing, you will still learn something new from our programme. Through constructive feedback you will be able to see your writing through others’ eyes, which can be a truly enlightening experience.
You’ll also pick up skills and techniques which you’ll be able to use in your own writing. Your tutors are a great resource. As working writers, editors and teachers they have a wealth of experience to offer you. You will be encouraged, through exploration, experimentation, discussion and wider reading, to understand the writing process; to identify your own personal themes and to find ways of expressing these ideas to a modern audience.
You Will Be Challenged
There will be plenty of opportunities to write freely and plenty of ideas to inspire you but from time to time you may feel a little self-conscious about your work. Please be patient. You need to assimilate a lot of ideas and techniques over the coming months. At times you may feel that becoming intellectually aware of these things is blocking the flow of your creativity. Again, please be patient. At the end of the day writing is clearly an imaginative and intuitive activity, but in order to understand it as a process you need to become aware of what you are doing. Once you have a good grasp of technique you can allow what you have learnt to slip back into your unconscious mind and enhance your instinctive approach.
You Will Bond With Other Writers
One of the most rewarding aspects of being on the writing programme is the sense of community that develops within groups. Creating a space that is encouraging, explorative and honest is a key part of the creative writing programme. Expect to form some valuable connections with tutors and students, and play a role in each other’s journeys.
We work in small groups of twelve to fifteen writers. By getting to know and being inspired by each other’s writing you will stop judging your own work by comparison and focus on your own growth. You can learn a lot from everybody on the course, regardless of their experience and the quality of their work. Everybody is coming at this from a different angle. You will be encouraged to celebrate that difference and make good use of it, to appreciate each other’s successes and the work that everybody puts in to what they do.
You Will Find A New Appreciation For Your Craft
“Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write.”— William Faulkner
You will develop a writerly way of reading as you become more aware of the craft and techniques of writing. You will be encouraged to pick up books you are familiar with and consider their approach to the topics you are studying in your writing classes: ‘objective’ description, use of metaphor, characterisation, scene structure, narration, dramatic tension etc. By studying others you’ll become more aware of your own work and learn new ways to appreciate the craft.