Creative writing classes offer a unique platform for aspiring writers to nurture their skills, expand their literary horizons, and delve into the enchanting world of storytelling. And that means you’re likely in the market to learn how to get the most from a creative writing class, no matter where it is.
Whether you’re a budding writer or an experienced wordsmith, enrolling in a creative writing class can ignite your creativity and refine your craft.
To ensure you make the most of this transformative experience, here’s a guide to help you unlock your full potential and reap the rewards of a creative writing class no matter if your goal is to write for fun or make a full-time living from writing.
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Benefits of Signing up for a Creative Writing Class
Most people don’t do it. They don’t sit down and truly decide to pursue something creative, like signing up for a class like this.
They wish and dream and type a “must be nice” under the celebratory Instagram posts of others who actually went for their goals. This isn’t to shame you, but more to wake you up to the fact that aside from the benefits I’ll list below, the biggest thing you’ll gain from a creative writing class is the fact that you’re doing it at all.
You’re chasing something you care about, even if you don’t want to make a living writing fiction. If your goal is to write fun fan fiction and post it for free on Wattpad, it’s still important to note that you’re pursuing something creative.
So aside from that, here are other benefits you’ll gain by actually signing up for a creative writing class:
- Invest in your craft: People often have the hardest time doing this. After college, the idea of paying to pursue a passion seems silly, when it’s actually one of the most fulfilling things we can do for ourselves. No matter your goals, it’ll feel right to invest in something you love.
- Meet new people: Whether it’s an online class or in-person, you’ll end up meeting people chasing the same goals you are. Support is really important with creative pursuits and the people you’ll meet will become writing partners that give you much-needed feedback.
- Learn with hands-on experience: Most creative writing classes assign prompts with writing exercises meant to help you hone in and focus on developing the elements of fiction. When we just write by ourselves, we often focus most on what we’re already good at, neglecting the parts that could take our writing from good to great.
- Inspiration: If you’re anything like me, being around other creatives, especially writers, will inspire you. You’ll want to be more engaged and active with the class, which will help you feel motivated to write and accomplish more.
- Accountability: It’s easier for us to put off our self-appointed writing routines, but when it’s a class you’re paying for, you’re much more likely to complete it. The outside accountability from your writing group and instructor are worth it.
- Feedback from someone experienced: You want someone who knows what they’re doing to help you. Someone teaching a creative writing class can not only help you become better by pointing out areas of improvement, but they can also show you what you’re doing well and your strengths to lean into. Both of these are invaluable when it comes to improving your writing.
Increase the Value: How to Get the Most From a Creative Writing Class
You don’t want to waste your time or money by just showing up to class without a plan. Preparing for your creative writing class also includes being intentional about what you want to get from the class in the first place.
If that’s value, here are some tips for you to learn how to get the most from a creative writing class.
1. Be open minded
Entering a creative writing class with an open mind is vital. Be prepared to explore different genres, styles, and perspectives. Don’t shy away from experimenting with unfamiliar territories.
We tend to stick to areas we feel confident in, but it’s the exploration and learning through what we’re uncomfortable with that brings true growth.
Engage with diverse forms of writing, such as poetry, short stories, or screenplays. Embracing new ideas and being receptive to feedback will expand your creative palette and push the boundaries of your writing.
You never want to shut down any advice just because it stings a little. The truth is, when getting feedback, the points that hurt the most are the ones we care most about. You wouldn’t really care if someone says your dialogue is silly if you’re not someone who focuses much on dialogue as your strength.
Now, if someone said your settings were silly and that’s something you care deeply about, you’re more likely to reject that idea and even become defensive.
Keep an open mind through all aspects and you’ll be well on your way to knowing how to get the most from a creative writing class.
2. Take notes & record if you can
Our memory isn’t great. It’s been proven time and time again that we cling to only certain pieces of information, forgetting the rest. It’s why most people can reread books multiple times and pick up on things they forgot the first time around.
If you want to record in a way that takes notes for you, try using a few of these tools:
Even if you can’t record, make sure to jot down notes as you learn, especially during parts that have the most to do with the genres you write in (though all of it is important!).
The key with notes, though, is reviewing them. It doesn’t do anyone any good if your notes are only used for collecting dust on a shelf somewhere. Give yourself a day or two, then refer to your notes before a writing session or the next class. Absorbing the material over again will help you retain the information and better understand future lessons.
3. Participate actively
Actively participating in class discussions, workshops, and writing exercises is crucial to your growth as a writer. Engage with your classmates’ work, offer constructive feedback, and take advantage of the opportunity to receive critiques on your own writing.
Embrace the collaborative nature of the class, as the exchange of ideas can spark new inspiration and provide fresh insights into your work. Even if you’re shy, quiet, introverted, or all three of those things, make an effort to get outside of yourself for the benefit of your writing.
When you don’t ask questions, you’re only losing out on education you’ve paid to get! Keeping quiet is a surefire way to not learn how to get the most from a creative writing class.
4. Set clear goals that feel a little scary
Establish clear writing goals at the beginning of the course. Identify areas where you wish to improve, such as character development, dialogue, or descriptive writing, and work on those specific aspects.
Push yourself beyond your comfort zone, experiment with different writing styles, and take risks with your storytelling. Remember, growth comes from embracing challenges and pushing the boundaries of your creative abilities.
If any of the ways for how to get the most from a creative writing classes listed here seem the scariest, set goals around them so you’re intentional about doing what’s good for you, even if it’s scary!
5. Act on resistances
You will learn things in this class that make you want to avoid them. You’ll feel defensive when receiving feedback or when learning something new.
This is normal and natural, but most importantly, it’s indicative of the best area of growth for you and your writing. We don’t emotionally react to things that we feel good about or don’t care about. So if you’re feeling resistance toward an assignment or feedback, act on it.
Do the assignment. Take the feedback and discover why it makes you feel bad to hear it. This is the best way to learn how to get the most from a creative writing class because these are the areas you need to grow the most.
6. Create a writing routine
Developing a consistent writing routine is vital for honing your skills. Treat your creative writing class as an opportunity to establish a disciplined writing habit. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to work on your assignments or personal writing projects.
Consistency will help you develop a rhythm, improve your productivity, and allow your creativity to flow more effortlessly. Plus, it’s helpful to train yourself to treat writing like work, where you can sit down and “do the assignment”.
The more we treat writing like a super special activity that can only occur when inspiration strikes, the more we’re conditioning ourself to believe that.
Which means writing will only happen during those very rare occasions. Set a schedule and don’t negotiate with yourself. Writing time is writing time. Turn your phone off or
7. Get outside accountability
While the class itself is accountability, you’ll benefit from making a friend and having a source of accountability for your work and goals. This can be someone in the class itself or a writer friend who can discuss the class with you and help push you to meet your goals.
Either way, if you’re someone who responds will to outside accountability, find someone to meet up with and discuss your progress toward goals.
8. Seek and embrace constructive criticism:
Receiving feedback on your writing can be both daunting and invaluable. Be open to constructive criticism from your instructor and peers.
Their insights and suggestions can help you identify areas of improvement and refine your writing. Remember, criticism is not a personal attack but an opportunity for growth. Embrace feedback as a stepping stone towards becoming a better writer.
Just remember that not everyone will offer constructive criticism. If it doesn’t help you identify the problem so you can come up with solutions, it’s not all that helpful. Learn to identify mean commentary from helpful feedback and you’ll know how to get the most from a creative writing class.
9. Take it outside the classroom
While the creative writing class provides a structured learning environment, don’t limit your exploration to the confines of the classroom. Immerse yourself in literature by reading widely across genres and styles.
Attend literary events, join writing communities, or start a writing group with your classmates. Engaging with the larger writing community will expose you to diverse perspectives and foster a sense of belonging.
If you need a way to find a writing community near you, head to Facebook and search for groups by typing in “writing group [your city]”, then selecting “groups” from the sidebar, and “see all” when the group box appears, like in the example below.
10. Revise your work using notes
Revision is an essential part of the writing process. Take the time to revise and polish your assignments and projects. Editing allows you to refine your ideas, streamline your narrative, and enhance the overall quality of your work.
While your book editor will surely help you fine tune the final draft, revision is where you really tell the story yourself. Embrace the art of rewriting and view it as an opportunity to sculpt your writing into its best form.
Remember, the creative writing class is not just about learning techniques; it’s about embracing the joy of storytelling and discovering the unique voice that lies within you. That is how you’ll learn how to get the most from a creative writing class.