Writing Courses: To Be or Not To Be?

Do I really need to take a course in writing? Is it worthwhile to spend time and money on a writing course? Will it benefit me professionally? These are questions that often plague the mind of an aspiring or upcoming writer - and justifiably so, considering the numerous courses spawning all over the internet. Today there are full-time, part-time, distance and online learning courses offered by reputed universities as well as make-shift "online" colleges. So how do you tell a credible one from a fake? To begin with, how do you decide whether to take up a course at all?


Firstly, you need to analyze your individual needs and purpose instead of shelling out big bucks for a course just because everyone else is doing the same .Frankly, no course (however highly rated it may be) can NEVER teach you to write. Creative writing is a skill that you are either born with or have carefully nurtured over the years with a lot of reading and practice. Although a writing course can seldom make a writer out of you, it can certainly expose you to various options and markets to explore as a professional freelance writer. Most course contain similar modules that require you to practice different genres and styles of writing. While this is nothing that you cannot do yourself, it does get you to follow a disciplined routine and at times, inspires you to step out of your comfort zone. Contrary to popular belief, a writing certificate or a diploma will not make employment prospects better for you. Employers and clients are on a lookout for a skilled writer who can understand their exact requirements. Most clients offering you a freelance project will usually ask you for a sample piece and they do not care what you have on your resume. Full-time employers on the other hand, will emphasize more on professional experience and skills learned on the job. "Creative writing" per se, is a very minute part of this skill set and a related qualification is not likely to be solely responsible for landing you a job. However, a writer can immensely benefit from the exposure to techniques, styles and markets - especially if you plan to go solo as an author of a book.

The Writers Bureau has been offering various writing courses since decades. Students are required to earn their course fee in full before they become eligible for the Diploma (that is supposed to be their money-back guarantee- so in a way, you have nothing to loose except time and energy if you don't make it through). The London School of Journalism too, is a notable provider but the courses seem to be extremely niche and there is a lack of comprehensive programs.Most other "online" education providers are not accredited and charge huge fee for material that you can find over the internet anyway. However, if a course is being offered by a recognized university, there is absolutely no harm in giving it a try. Please note that university courses will not help you much on the commercial front.I will soon put up a post on recommended and recognized courses available through distance and online learning.

There are distinct and contradicting schools of though regarding the need and worth of creative writing courses. A writer needs to self-assess, analyze and weigh the odds on a personal level before making a decision.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post, Shuchi! 'Writing' is indeed an inborn talent. Talking about the courses on Creative Writing, I have a quick input about the course that's offered by IGNOU. I've enrolled in the Diploma in Creative Writing and received my text books recently. They seem to be very good with their content and the assignments. Like you have mentioned in your article, IGNOU makes the students move out of their comfort zone and attempt writing on diverse topics. I stumbled upon a couple of old assignment topics and chose this course for me. Students are made to interview, write stories for children and women, write contents for TV and Radio and get their hands on feature writing. Thus IGNOU's main objective is just to tap the creative side of the brain. The writing-buffs like me who are still striving to carve a niche will definitely find the course educative.

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  2. I am not a famous writer, yet I strongly believe, writing is all about practice! practice! and practice! Though an initial guideline from someone expert in the field will bring you closer to perfection, yet again, your passion for improving yourself to be a good writer mustn't die down. Among other ways to follow to be a good writer, I would suggest everyone read Dictionary (I prefer Oxford's advance learner's dictionary) at least one hour in a day (not only for vocabulary reinforcement, but earning familiarity with how words are used). Still, nothing can make you a good writer till you are docile..that's my staunch belief!

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