Do you take writing classes? Do you do exercises or tutorials from books and websites?
If you've been around the writing life for a while it might seem like you've found all the information you really need. It might feel like a class on dialogue or setting is just going to be repetition of things you've already heard. A class on basic creative writing? You're so far beyond that!
Or maybe not. Taking classes isn't all about learning something new (although that's great, too, so do if if you can). It's about immersing yourself in your writing. It's about setting aside time and attention solely for your writing. It's about getting focused, maybe hearing a new take on an old subject, and building connections with fellow writers.
Why Take Classes:
- External deadlines--class assignments will help keep you moving forward
- Community--you'll meet other writers, including the teacher, either in person or virtually, and being around other writers is great for motivation
- Focus--when you've paid for a class, you're more likely to actually put in the time and focus on your writing, at least during the duration of the course
- Fresh ideas--you can always learn new things, even about something you already know a lot about; classes will let you hear ideas from others and maybe spark new ideas of your own
Why Use Tutorials and Exercises:
- New ideas--someone else's questions may spark new ideas in you
- Break through a block--questions and exercises can give you an entry point into your writing that can help you get past the blank page
- New understanding--someone else's phrasing of something you already know can give you clearer understanding of the subject
- Build a cushion--doing exercises can help you build up a stash of story ideas, story starters, scenes, and dialogue for later use which is especially helpful when you feel stuck
Obviously I'm a fan of taking classes to keep your writing flowing. It's a great way to keep connected to your writing and to the writing community. And tutorials, exercises, etc. are a great way to get your brain out of your personal grooves and into different thought patterns. So, especially if you're feeling stuck or sluggish in your writing lately, try out a class and see if it gets things going again. I think it will be worth your time.