"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Friday, October 26, 2012

Writing Classes You Can Take at Any Age

by Nadia Jones
I'm utterly astounded by the number of people who think taking classes is something you stop doing after graduating college. A person should continue to learn and educate themselves long after they've left the ivory tower.
Taking writing classes is one of the greatest ways to hone and develop a writing craft, and you don't have to be enrolled in college or a member of an association to have these writing classes available to you. There are a myriad of writing classes you can take all the time – you just have to know where to find them. For those of you who have an interest in attending a few writing classes in your spare time, here are three types available to writers at any age and any experience level.
Community classes - Believe it or not, there are numerous writing groups in most every community and city. Every day, writers join these groups and associations as a way of meeting and collaborating with other writers. Many of these community groups also host classes where members will go over writing exercises, edit in groups, revise written pieces, provide honest feedback, host brainstorming sessions, and help other members move past their writer's block. Even though there might not be a designated instructor in these classes, the fact that you're a part of a fellowship of talented writers will greatly aid you in creating intriguing work.
One-on-one mentor sessions - If group classes aren't your thing, perhaps you should consider finding a mentor to look over your writing work from time to time. When I began my professional writing career, I came across published authors, literary critics, and freelance writers that I recruited as my mentors. Whenever I'd start working on a new writing piece, I'd ask them to tell me their honest thoughts about my early drafts. Even though my mentors weren't necessarily licensed teachers or professors, they helped me tremendously. All of my mentors gave blunt, sound advice that I may not have gotten in a traditional class. I trusted their years of wisdom more than I did my former college professors, simply because they had already found the success I hoped to one day attain. If you haven't already, seek out a handful of mentors you can reach out to when you need help with your writing work. These mentors understand the numerous professional struggles you face every day in writing, revising, editing, and publishing, so they're an asset you'll want to keep around.
Online classes - This last one gets a lot of debate, but I thoroughly believe in the power of online writing classes. Whether or not you're enrolled in college, you can still take online writing classes, and the good news is that many colleges and associations offer online writing classes for free. (For a list of some, see this link). Furthermore, many of the teachers that run these classes are respected experts in the writing field, such as published authors, magazine editors, literary critics, etc. Naturally, they are just as attuned and aware about what is going on in the writing field, since they also work in the industry. Lastly, online writing classes work well with a variety of lifestyles and schedules, so whether you're a full-time mom, part-time freelance writer, recently graduated newspaper reporter, etc., they can work for you!
Don't think you have to enroll in college once more to enjoy the benefits of helpful writing classes. See if any of these three class options suit your wants and needs.
Nadia Jones is an educator and freelance writer who writes for onlinecollege.org as well as other sites related to education. In her spare time, Nadia likes to research and discuss innovative ways to use technology in the classroom.

6 comments:

shelly said...

I do a lot of on-line classes offered by our local community college.

Daisy Carter said...

Excellent post. I'm a firm believer that when we stop trying to better ourselves and our craft, our writing suffers.

I'd also add writing conferences and workshops to this list. Sitting in on a class by a best-selling author or editors and agents is a great way to learn, and it's only a weekend commitment for those with limited time.

D.G. Hudson said...

I took several online courses, all with established authors, plus I've taken a master class at a conference, and I plan to work with a mentor in the Spring on a new novel.

I agree we're never too old or too far past college to learn something new. It keeps us thinking.

Julie Luek said...

Good suggestions. I'm always lamenting I live in a small rural town with limited resources. We have a great college with a fantastic MFA program in Creative Writing, but gulp, I can't afford that. I should look into the online or even a mentor.

Mary Aalgaard said...

I love learning. Every once in a while, I sign up for a workshop or class. I'd love to find a mentor in a couple areas where I'd like to further my art/career.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A community class would be interesting.