Five Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Writing Class

Busy day today, so I’m dropping in for just a short update here and then more prep for tomorrow’s Passover dinner.

Steve and I are thinking through a system of intelligent curation of information coming into our lives. Too much of what we talk about upsets us. So we may increase the amount of time we spend learning about writing and other topics and decrease the amount of news.

A friend asked me what I thought about a writing education program and I wrote a long letter to her describing how I analyze writing programs these days. It was a very cleansing letter to write. There was a lot about how I analyze writing goals, which I may talk about in the future here. But what I think is the most important part of what I said is this:

The world is awash in writing courses. Ask these questions of each course:

  • Who is teaching it?
  • What are their credentials?
  • Do they write what you want to write?
  • Are they successfully achieving the same goal you want to achieve?
  • Have you checked the Writer Beware website to check for scammers and fraudsters?

I also think that having a variety of teachers is helpful. Everyone has a different slant and you never know which will speak most eloquently to you.

Be well, friends! And stay well.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. I got burned on a lot of writing classes. You really have to let the critical brain loose on this one. As someone who doesn’t outline, I have to be alert for people who don’t have a clue how to teach non-outliners. I tried asking if they taught pantsers and got a “Sure! We teach both!” That translated as them expecting me to outline to learn the material. Not every writer can separate process (outlining/pantsing) from craft.

    But an additional rule: Look for specific skill courses, not generic ones. How to write a novel is too generic. You won’t get enough out of it for your money. How to come up with ideas is very specific and you’re more likely to walk away with good info. Some of it will still be hit or miss. I’ve had a few courses from one person who is usually pretty good and they were major flops.

  2. That’s a great point and one I didn’t think of.

    My friend is just beginning and doesn’t know whether she is a pantser or a plotter. My perception was that her sense of what she wants from a writing class was a little vague, so I spent a lot of time discussing how I figure out my goals for writing. I agree that specificity is everything: specificity in goals and in classes.

  3. Coming up with ideas would be an idea class for her. Very basic, but a very important early skill. I wish I’d had that one years ago!

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