There’s the great question of do I need to do a creative writing course if I want to be an author?
I’m currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts (Professional and Creative Writing). I’ve learnt a lot from my classes, homework, assessments, tutors, and peers, and I’ve made some great friends. It was very valuable, and I loved every minute.
But do you need a course to learn creative writing?
No. You don’t. There are plenty of other options to learn about creative writing, and most of them are free or low cost. And you can learn it in your own time and at your own pace.
Here’s how you can learn creative writing if you can’t do a course.
1. Read writing advice blog posts
Blog posts are a great way to start if you have a specific question. There are hundreds of blog posts for every question you want answered about writing – from how to create more realistic dialogue to how to create a setting. And they usually provide a writing prompt at the end.
2. Read writing guide books
You can borrow these guide books from the library or you can buy them. There are so many different writing guide books that provide advice from how to write in a genre, some that include writing prompts, and some that just have general writing advice. They’re a great place to start if you want something a little more in-depth than a blog post and if you want a guide.
3. Watch TED talks
TED talks are super inspiring and motivating. There are quite a few TED talks about all aspects of creativity and writing. They make you look at the creative process in different ways and tell you about new techniques and thinking processes.
4. Watch videos on YouTube
There are heaps of YouTube channels dedicated to writing advice from a whole range of different things different topics and from short videos to long videos. Videos great if you’re a visual person.
5. Listen to podcasts
And if you’re an audio person, podcasts are for you. They’re great to listen to on your morning commute or when you’re exercising. There are heaps of interviews with all different writers, and talking about different writing problems, and providing great tips and inspiration.
6. Read fiction books
You can learn so much from reading fiction. Read books in the genre you want to write and see how they hook the reader in at the beginning, how their characters develop, and how they use dialogue. It’s important to have some comparison titles to your novel if you want to pitch it. And read books in genres you don’t normally read to see how those authors do it.
7. Do writing exercises
Writing exercises are a great way to warm up your writing muscles. They’re great to do at the start of a writing session before you work on your project. There are heaps of different exercises and prompts to get your creativity flowing. There are lots of books with writing prompts and there are lots of websites with free writing prompts.
8. Join a writing workshopping group
A workshopping group is great to share your work and get feedback on it. Reading other people’s work and providing feedback on their work also makes you learn things about your own. It’s also great motivation to write as you don’t want to let the members of your group down. Ask your local library about writing groups or check out local writing centres. If you can’t find a group, start your own!
This may seem super obvious, but it’s often overlooked. It’s great to learn about creative writing, but if you don’t set aside time to actually write, you’re not going to go anywhere. Set aside 10 or 15 mins a day to start off with, and just write. And slowly increase that time. NaNoWriMo is an excellent motivation to commit to writing for a whole month.
What side of the debate are you on, are you currently studying a creative writing course, are you learning it without a course, or both? Do you have any tips on how to learn creative writing? Do you have any book/podcast/YouTube video recommendations?
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Julie is currently studying s Bachelor of Arts (Professional and Creative Writing) at Deakin University in Australia. She's a hardcover book and journal collector, she owns way too many planners, and she keeps telling herself that one day she will go to Paris.