I’ve just finished a series of eight creative writing classes for beginners. And naturally, I hope that they will continue to write. Who knows, maybe even one day, be published. After all, isn’t that what a creative writing class supposed to be for?
Well, no it isn’t.
Creative writing classes have been mushrooming all over the country in recent years. And every so often, people speculate as to whether they’re really necessary. After all, a lot of today’s best-selling and award-winning authors never darkened the door of a classroom.
But looking at creative writing classes in terms of whether they produce published writers is too narrow a viewpoint. After all, no one expects children playing underage hurling to turn into DJ Carey, or people taking an evening art class to eventually become Vincent Van Gogh.
Creative writing classes are really about the two Es, escape and expression.
Escape: Creative writing classes give you a chance to step outside the humdrum of everyday life and recapture the magic of being alive. One of the great skills of a writer is to find the extraordinary within the ordinary and creative writing classes show students how to do this. It’s like a holiday from life.
Expression: Students have a chance to share their innermost thoughts in a safe environment and to let their imaginations run free. This can have a powerful effect, as they often don’t have these opportunities for expression elsewhere.
If you help your students achieve those goals as a creative writing tutor, you can safely say you’ve done your job. Anything further than that is a bonus.
A lot of students are avid readers and will be interested in getting a behind-the-scenes look at how their favourite authors create their stories. And particularly in more advanced classes, they’ll be interested in honing their craft as much as they possibly can.
Creative writing classes can help you get published – but only if you want to. A good creative writing tutor will give you the tools and the confidence to develop your stories and point you in the direction of places where you can send your work.
But if you want to be published, you’ve got to carry on by yourself. It’s a bit like Frodo in Lord of the Rings when he realised only he could bring the ring to the Cracks of Doom. You’ve got to put your bum on that seat.
And if being published is what you want, then a creative writing class could just give you the prod you need.