Can one be taught how to write a novel? Probably not, but that hasn’t stopped creative writing courses from springing up across the land – as well as in some lovely locations overseas. While you’re unlikely to go home with the first draft of a novel under your belt, a long weekend on a writing course can help hone some useful skills.
I’ve been on a few of these, from Devon to Norfolk. Here are seven things I took away from my experience.
1 I always forget something vital. Like deodorant. And the nearest shops are invariably miles away.
2 The loo is almost as far as the shops. And at night the floorboards creak worse than the rigging of the Black Pearl.
3 The tutors can be awesome, even if you don’t plan to write in that genre. The encouragement I got years ago from the legendary Ruth Rendell has been priceless.
4 The other participants can be awesome too. No matter how polished your prose, at least two of the other writers in the group will be just as good as you.
5 Reading your work out loud in a group can be scary (see 3 and 4). But it’s an essential rite of passage and can help tune the ear. Afterwards, you may find yourself reading aloud to yourself far more often to help with editing.
6 There are new friends to be made (especially if you trek out to buy deodorant).
7 The local beer is stronger than anywhere else. Or is that just the heady atmosphere?
So, while you can’t become a novelist in three days, you can boost your writing powers and have fun as well.
Next blog post: Progress on My Secret Project.