Creative writing classes are often seen as growhouses, incubating the next bestselling author. Occasionally, articles will appear in newspapers and magazines, questioning whether creative writing classes offer a valid path to publication. But publication rate is a narrow view of the success of creative writing classes. The value of creative writing classes goes far beyond a sparkly cover with a name on it.
There are as many reasons for people to attend creative writing classes as there are people attending them. From four years of giving creative writing classes, these are the main reasons that I’ve identified.
- It’s a fulfilling hobby
People often look for an outlet, a new experience that will bring them satisfaction and enrich their lives. Maybe they’ve retired, their children are a little older or they want to they’ve moved and want to meet new people. They appreciate the opportunity to learn new skills and feel satisfied when they create a complete piece of writing. They may continue to write for their own pleasure after a course has finished, and if an anthology comes out of it, they enjoy getting a taste of the publication experience.
2. For self expression
Many of the people who come to creative writing classes are driven by a desire to express themselves, either emotionally or creatively. They may be creative in other ways, as artists and musicians, and see the written word as a complement to their primary art form. They may also have had important formative experiences in their lives and appreciate the opportunity to give shape to those experiences through words.
I’m always struck by the fact that the people who come to my classes are often the busiest, people juggling children, jobs and elderly parents, sometimes at the same time. Coming to writing workshops lets them rise above the daily grind and live differently for a while. Creative writing classes help them carve out time to savour new experiences and be stimulated by new ideas. It’s like a mini-holiday for them.
4. To find out how writing works
Some people come to creative writing classes because they’re bookworms and the classes give them a chance to find out how their favourite authors create their books. And some people just enjoy learning about the mechanics of writing. Creative writing classes help them to read at a deeper level and expose them to new types of books and stories.
5. And yes, to be published.
If you have the hunger to be published, a good creative writing class will give you the tools and inspiration to set you on your way. If you’re halfway through a story and you’re stuck, the classes will help you get over the line. You’ll get feedback from your fellow participants, which will help you improve your work. Above all, you’ll realise you’re not mad to want to be a published writer, and that it’s a feasible and realisable dream.
What made you sign up to a creative writing class? And if you give them, what reasons have you identified for why people attend them?