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What might the other students be looking for, and will their goals fit well with your own?(For me, this is the most stressful part of making the decision, probably because I had an awful experience in a creative writing class with a guy who thought he was the new Kerouac and who would mutter under his breath about how I wrote “like f*cking Jane Austen” – which I obviously considered a compliment but was aware wasn’t meant as one, and definitely impacted on what I was able to get from the class.) – So now you know what to prioritise when you’re looking into which course to commit to.
Some courses expect you to be in the same place at the same time every week. Some don’t start for a few months, but you’re already raring to go.
Think hard about what you can reasonably commit to.
Some people are a bit sniffy about having a low-profile writer teaching them, and I think this is the wrong attitude.
After all, do you expect Derek Jacobi or Judi Dench to teach a course at a drama school?
You want an expert eye that is helping you develop your work, but this is also about you making – and sticking to – a personal commitment to write. Of course, most of us would happily borrow money to do an expensive course if we thought it guaranteed publication, riches and the life of an internationally renowned writer at the end! Are you buying prestige, or access, or a qualification?
It won’t surprise you when I say that’s not going to happen (whatever the course marketing might suggest). Are you looking for general tuition on the craft of writing, or feedback specific to your own work – or both?I’m very much of the belief that writing can and should be taught, but that it’s also important to find the course that suits you and your style – not just in writing, but in personality too, since you won’t flourish in an environment you’re not comfortable in.Sharing your writing is an intensely personal experience, and to be the best possible writer you need to find somewhere that builds up your confidence alongside helping you develop your work constructively.Some courses have big-name authors as their instructors, who write brilliantly but aren’t necessarily good at imparting their own skill.Some courses might be taught by writers you’ve never heard of, but who are really good teachers; others are taught by people who aren’t writers at all, but have great editorial and teaching experience.These vary hugely in what you’re going to get, and therefore in what you should pay.At one end of the scale, they offer generic content and can therefore seem quite cheap.But the obvious pitfalls are that the people in your group might have very different reasons for being there, with varying levels of commitment and ability.A worst case scenario is that there’ll be someone attempting to dominate the time completely so that it’s all about them – and the teacher isn’t able to control them.Or do you simply want to improve your writing generally, finding your voice and developing your confidence?Are you just starting out or do you want to hone what you have?