Do creative writing courses help budding authors?

It sounds like this question has an obvious answer, but it doesn’t. For someone like me who has written a novel, it’s not so straight forward. When I mention to people that I’m considering undertaking a course, the response I typically get back is “But you’ve already written a novel?” This is very true but undertaking a creative writing course at this point has a number of potential advantages for me.

  • Just because I enjoy writing and have already written a novel, doesn’t mean I’m good at it. Or even if I am good at it, it doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to learn. Perhaps a course might teach me new techniques and ways to manage and execute new ideas. Having studied Film and Literature at the University of Warwick, I actually have no formal writing training.
  • Undertaking a course positively engages with my goal, it’s an investment in myself and reminds me that my goal and needs matter.
  • A course may help me to network, with other authors/students, but also potential publishers, agents and so forth, a significantly valuable opportunity.

But which course is the right one for me? I’ve been doing some research and one in particular has stood out so far, and that is Penguin Random House’s The Writers Academy, ‘Constructing a Novel’ course. They do offer a beginners course, but going over the content for both, I believe that one is not quite appropriate for me. Whereas this one seems to go into a bit more depth, seems a bit more in line with my current knowledge. It’s a bit pricey, totalling £949 if you’d like your work submitted to an editor as part of the course. But not as pricey as others I have seen which go well into the thousands.

One of the significant advantages of this course is that its distance learning. For me, living in Leamington Spa, taking regular trips to London would be even more expensive. This way I should hopefully get the full experience but without having to increase the cost too much. It also means I’m more likely to be able to squeeze studying into my normal routine.

I suppose it can be asked, why is it that those who can afford such courses (I’m sure there are many writers more talented than I out there whose budgets just don’t allow for this) should be afforded more potential opportunities? It’s a tricky one. I suppose nothing is guaranteed. I could undertake the course and not be any further towards publication than I am now. If that’s the case, hopefully I will have gained new skills, friends and most importantly, a new first draft to propel myself forward with.

But for me, this seems like a positive step forward, not only to actually get a new novel truly started, but to hopefully perhaps be noticed by someone. At this point, I’m willing to try anything to learn and progress. Everything is worth a shot.

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