It’s never too late to learn something new, and with an abundance of online courses available at your fingertips, what’s stopping you?
Going freelance gave me the opportunity to do more things I loved. As a fan of storytelling in novels and in my work (brand storytelling – not just making things up) I decided to have a go at a six-week writing course with the Writers’ Workshop called ‘How to Write a Novel‘. This is my review, plus why taking a course could help open new doors of opportunity.
Why I took a writing course
- Learning new writing skills helps me grow as a professional copywriter and marketer – it’s basically a no-brainer in terms of work related benefits.
- ‘How to Write a Novel’ was something I always wanted to do as I am obsessed with reading books as well as storytelling in branding and marketing.
Why should you take any course?
- Develop your interest in something you’re passionate about – treat it like a hobby!
- Improve your skills.
- Looks good on your CV to employers; “this girl is self motivated, independent and ambitious. I am not just going to hire her, but offer her even more money!” (It could happen).
- Builds your confidence.
Six-week writing course structure
My advice would be: come with an idea you want to develop for this course. Just because, if you don’t have an idea already you can waste time chopping and changing throughout the weeks, rather than developing something fully and getting the most from the course. The main theme of this week was: write what you know!
This was my favourite part of the course, and my favourite part in all storytelling. You can go mad with spider charts, spilling out personality traits, quirks, jobs, looks, dress sense and much more. The possibilities are endless. Just be careful not to base your character too closely to anyone you know in real life – it’s unlikely to go down well.
Here you get into the plot of your story and consider popular story lines such as rags to riches, a quest of self discovery, a tragedy etc. You really need to decide what events and conflicts are going to spur your character on, as well as making it a real page-turner for your reader.
Now wasn’t this something to behold when reading one of my favourite books, Gone Girl?! The structure was so well planned out that the story continuously revealed itself in a surprising and extraordinary way. Author Gillian Flynn said she had hundreds of post-its covering a wall in her basement to create a timeline – just to help her keep track of the plot. Twists and turns in storytelling doesn’t come without a planned structure of scenes and sub-plots. Just make sure you don’t leave it up when you have friends over – they might get the wrong end of the stick and call the police on you.
Developing a unique voice is what separates good writers from great writers. It’s definitely something you can work on (I’m trying!) but some people are just born with a natural flair. This week was about finding your authentic voice and being confident about it. Try different extremes of voices before settling into what feels natural. Knowing what you are not gets you much closer to knowing what you are.
This is something I do ALL THE TIME. I even go back and edit my texts and Whatsapp messages. If I had to rely on a first draft of anything I don’t think I would have got very far in life. The rewrite is when your work starts to have style, personality, maybe an added surprise. If you have the time, sleeping on it can work miracles; there has been many a time a fresh pair of eyes the next day has lead me to think a moron wrote my work the day before.
Cost: Is it worth it?
Writers’ Workshop: How to Write a Novel Beginners Six-Week Course – £365
Personally, I would be happy with the cost is it was a face-to-face classroom environment. As it was an online course I think it was overpriced. If you get a group that are up for critiquing each other’s work you will get a lot more out of it. My group was quite quiet so it felt like working solo unfortunately.
What are the value benefits?
- An experienced course leader who is a published author.
- Video introduction each week.
- In-depth notes for each week – almost 4-5 pages that I have kept and still refer to!
- Suggested further reading so you can go off and continue to learn independently.
- A forum for discussion amongst your class peers (as long as people are chatty!)
- The structure and discipline of deadlines – making you think, write and learn regularly.
- Individual feedback on each of your assignments.
Learn a new skill and feel happier in 2017
There are now courses you can do in almost anything – ever considered Surf Science or Viking Studies? Maybe you should. Why not make a fresh start in 2017 and learn a new skill that makes you feel good?