I was reading an article by a book writers agency and realized that creative writing classes play an essential role in developing our writing resilience. They taught us things that help us kick start our career with a professional touch. Here are five of the things that I have learned by taking various creative writing classes. No matter where you are from and what you do, these lessons seem to be universal.
Table of Contents
Five Most Important Lessons in Creative Writing Class
Creative Writing Class Lesson 1: Read as much as you write
To write is an act of creation. It’s putting words on the page that you didn’t know existed. When you take a creative writing course, it’s essential to read everything you can about the craft. Studying gives you a point of view and helps put things into perspective because you’re not only learning from people who’ve gone before, but from people who are going through the same things you are.
You’ll be surprised how much you can learn just by reading and investing time in writing. Set aside an hour every day for at least a week to read and absorb the things you’ve read. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Furthermore, reading every word out loud helped me remember every rule and metaphor I’ve learned while slowing down my own thinking and writing so that I could focus on what’s important: the words on the page.
Creative Writing Class Lesson 2: Write every day
Something I came across to help me with this class was a method called the “5-minute sprint”. This is when you sit down and write for 5 minutes no matter what. It can be on anything at all, but it’s a great exercise in writing something every day. Writing is more than a skill. It’s a mindset. It takes discipline to hone and improve. And like everything in life, there are things you can learn and things you can’t. In Creative Writing Class (CW classroom), we taught our students to think like writers and not merely readers.
Writing in class is one of the best ways to learn new skills. The pace is casual, the stakes are low, and the result is likely to be more confidence and more pleasure in your writing. The best way to learn if you want to be a good writer: write every day. Not just any day, though. Some days you’ll want to speed up your process or cut out things you don’t think are necessary (and would do better by the second editor), while other days, you’ll wish you could take longer. The lesson here is that it is alright and normal to feel that way. As long as you are writing every day, you are good to go.
Creative Writing Class Lesson 3: Share your work, get feedback
In creative writing class, we read and discuss short stories. We discuss plot points, dialogue, and ideas for reinforcement. Sometimes for practice, you are also asked to write a short story (around 300 words), share it with the class, and they respond with questions about it. I used to take notes on their comments, then share my own notes as they emerge into the discussion. This feedback loop continues throughout the semester until the end of each class period when we grade each other’s work. The feedback I got from the instructor was amazing. He not only helped me improve my skills, but he also encouraged me to stop focusing just on getting grades and start focusing on what’s really important: getting better at writing.
Creative Writing Class Lesson 4: Don’t give up
The most important lesson in creative writing class is that you are going to make mistakes. In fact, your first draft will probably be littered with typos and careless choices. The point is not to correct them but to learn from them. You should not feel ashamed of them nor try to make them disappear by launching a tirade against typos. They will still be there, waiting for your next pass at writing. Therefore, what you do when you get a chance to write without correction or commentary is pretty important: You write.
It’s inevitable. Therefore, it is important to remember that you’re going to make mistakes as a creative writer. That’s part of the practice and part of the learning process. You need to be willing to take out your frustrations on your pages so that they make sense. And then learn from them!
Creative Writing Class Lesson 5: Don’t be afraid of your inner critic
In creative writing class, we were reminded time and again to accept that we are all going to make mistakes. Its part of being creative—making mistakes is how you learn and grow as a writer. I’ve been writing for about four years, so I’ve made a fair bit of mistakes myself. However, through this blog (and especially the posts on developing your creative writing skills), I’ve been able to identify some things that will help you write better—things you can pass on to other writers in hopes that they also improve. Along the way, I also learned to accept my own judgments of writing.
As a creative writer, I’ve found that the one thing I can count on is an inner critic. More than any other writer I’ve worked with, she or he has told me what I need to improve in my work and/or voice. And one thing I learned from her is that there is no such thing as too much criticism. It’s a useful and necessary part of creating — part of self-improvement and growth as a person.
Yes, a class can be nerve-wracking; it can feel like a real test of your skills like you are being judged instead of receiving feedback. However, the most common mistake people make in creative writing is letting their inner critic get in the way. Letting your inner critic tell you what you aren’t doing right is a huge mistake. You need to control your critic. This may sound contradictory. But you need to acknowledge your critic and accept you will do better next time. Your critic is going to give you advice on how to do things, but they are not going to tell you what you are doing right. The best thing about your critic is that they give you feedback without judgment.
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