Back to School? Joining A Creative Writing Class

Firstly, a quick ‘plug’ for my two creative writing classes which will be starting up again next month. Earlier this year I thought I might have moved house by now, in which case I wouldn’t be teaching them but given the current housing market ‘slump’, I’m still in the area – and I’ll be around for at least this first term up to Christmas – so if you’re interested in the classes, you can enrol now and here are the details:

Monday nights, 10 week course at Arden School (Knowle): 7pm – 9pm.
Start date: Monday 19th September 2011. Cost = £125

Wednesday nights, 10 week course at Woodlands College, Smiths Wood (near Chelmsley Wood/Coleshill): 7pm -9pm.
Start date: Weds 21st September 2011. Cost = £40

For more info on either of these classes, leave a comment here or email Solihull College enquiries@solihull.ac.uk or telephone 0121 678 7000.

Enrolment: Arden School – 5th and 12th September. 6.30pm – 8.30pm
For Woodlands you need to ring 0121 788 0319 to book a place with Val Weaver. She will notify you of the enrolment dates.

Why The Difference In Price?

There is, as you will have spotted, a big difference in the cost between the course in South Solihull (Knowle) and North Solihull. This is purely because North Solihull qualifies for funding and therefore the courses are subsidised. It may seem unfair but anyone can come to the North Solihull course, so if you live in the South of the borough, but you’re prepared to travel, then you can get the course for the bargain price of just £40 for 10 weeks, but do read the next paragraph before you decide….

Obviously, it depends on who enrols, but my plan is to run the Arden Class as a more advanced/experienced class (given that it’s been running for nearly 4 years and I know that I’m going to have some returners) and the Woodlands Course will be strictly a ‘beginners’ class. Anyone who came along for the initial 5-week ‘taster’ that we ran earlier this year, may find themselves repeating some of the work we did then, but I will try to vary it as much as possible and I’m sure you’ll still get something out of it.

And if you don’t live anywhere near me in the West Midlands, why not see whether your local college runs leisure or community education classes in creative writing? (And if they don’t, badger them to start one! It may be too late for this Autumn, but they might consider it for January 2012).

8 Tips for Getting The Most From Your Creative Writing Course:

1.Before you enrol, check that the dates and times of the class are going to suit you – and block them out in your diary. If you’re only going to be able to make a few classes, because of other commitments, it’s going to be expensive – and ultimately rather unsatisfactory.

2.If you’re unsure whether creative writing is for you, ask the college for more information and/or if you can have a chat with the tutor and/or if you can sit in on the first class with no obligation to join. (Solihull College offers all of these).

3. Don’t be put off by a large number of new recruits on the first night! Numbers always dwindle after the first couple of weeks and a class of 20 + will soon settle down to a more manageable (and less intimidating) 14 or so.

4. Try to join in as much as possible. Even if you’re shy and find it difficult to speak up or read out, you can offer your ‘support’ to the group by doing some writing between and in the classes, commenting on others’ work or simply talking to other members of the class in the coffee break.

5.Bear in mind that teaching methods may well have moved on since you were at school – especially if that was a long time ago! Many first-timers in my classes expect ‘lectures’, with me spouting words of wisdom at the front, while they take notes in silence. Wrong! It’s much more interactive – and hopefully, interesting – than that.

6.Try to sit in a different seat each week, so that you’re not always next to the same people, with the same view of the teacher.

7.Be open-minded! You might, for example, join the class determined to hate poetry – and actually find that you love it. So be prepared to ‘play’, experiment and try different things.

8.Do some writing! Remember that ‘writers write’, they don’t just think about it or talk about it. The best way to get better, is to have a go. If you’re completely new to creative writing, your first few attempts are unlikely to be brilliant – and may be disappointing – but it’s the best way to improve. I promise all my students: ‘the more you write, the better you will get!’

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3 Responses to Back to School? Joining A Creative Writing Class

  1. Suzanne says:

    This all sounds terrific. I’d love to attend a writing class, but I haven’t been able to find one locally.

  2. Stephanie Holliday says:

    I live too far away to get to your class but I’d like to endorse everything you say about attending a Creative Writing Class. I started one 18 months ago. To be honest it was because I was at a bit of a loose end, had just come to live in Lancaster and needed to meet people but also because I love reading. The class is amazing. I didn’t think I liked poetry (like you said) but now have a go at writing it, we’ve learnt abut play writing for the stage and for the radio, writing novels and short stories and loads of other things.
    It gave me the confidence to enter writing competitions and I’ve been runner up in 3 and had two articles accepted for magazines, and I’ve got others out there waiting to hear about.
    I would never in a million years have thought I could do this and it’s magic to find out I can.
    Thanks for this blog – it’s inspirational.

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