1 November 2017

Guest Post by Dave Chesson ~ A writer’s education is never finished

Like any creative discipline, writing requires the ongoing accumulation of skill and technique coupled with an exposure to inspiring events and people.

Ever since writing became a skill accessible to non-elites, the handing down of writing knowledge and practice has been held in high regard by society.

The history of education in the United Kingdom shows that writing knowledge was a scarce commodity, taught to the lucky few through the tiny number of early universities and later by the grammar schools introduced by Edward VI.

Nowadays, writing education is abundant. The range of options when it comes to learning about writing is truly astonishing. In today’s article, I will share with you three of my favorite ways to learn about writing along with some thoughts on each.

Writing Classes

The range of writing classes on offer in the modern era is truly astonishing. No matter your level of ability as a writer, your previous experience, or the area of writing you wish to focus on, there is almost certainly a class suited to your needs.

Some of the types of classes you may wish to consider include -

      Evening classes taught in person, such as those held at universities or adult colleges
      Intensive classes, sometimes residential, held for a focused period of time
      One on one tuition with a writing tutor
      Online classes, either taught in the form of live sessions or pre-recorded courses
      One off workshops or taster sessions
      Formal qualifications, such as diplomas or degrees resulting in a recognized qualification

The benefits of a writing class as a source of ongoing education are many. Sometimes, if left to our own devices, we find excuses and reasons not to write. By committing to a class, and often paying money to do so, it becomes a lot easier to justify spending time working on and improving our writing.

Writing classes also offer a social dimension which isn’t always present in other forms of writing education. For some people, the enjoyment of learning and practicing alongside a group of likeminded souls is far more enjoyable than a solitary writing practice.

If you’re the kind of writer who enjoys a structured approach to learning, and the company of others, a writing class might be the perfect solution to your ongoing educational needs.

Podcasts For Writers

While many people never consider making podcasts one of their primary forms of ongoing education, those who do often become devotees to the format.

There are many advantages to using podcasts as a way of increasing your writing knowledge. Podcasts allow you to -

    Learn about writing no matter where you are. A mundane commute becomes an educational masterclass with the right podcast.
    Hear directly from writers you admire and wish to emulate. Having a writer share their ideas and experiences directly in your ear is often the next best thing to listening to them in person.
    Be entertained as well as educated. The best podcasts not only offer information but do so in a way which is enjoyable, just like the best teachers.

A good reason to use podcasts as a way of learning about writing is that, unlike many other forms of education, podcasts are ongoing and regularly updated. Whereas you might read a book about writing once or twice, podcasts allow you to refresh your writing education each and every week.

Many people find the small, focused lessons learned from podcasts over a long period of time to be a better way to learn than more comprehensive and in-depth blocks of information absorbed over a shorter period.

The best writing podcast you can choose is one which focuses on information directly relevant to your own writing that you also enjoy listening to. If you find your writing education to be both useful and enjoyable you are more likely to stick with it, thus reaping rewards in the long run.

Books About Writing

For some people, there is nothing better than a book as a way to learn. Books offer a number of advantages over both podcasts and writing classes.

      Books are almost always cheaper than writing classes
      Books often contain an incredible depth of information
      A book can be pursued at the learner’s own pace, unlike a writing class
      Books require no commitment or travel and are therefore great options for busy writers with hectic calendars

There are a number of books which are considered all time classic resources for writers and those interested in the craft of writing. In no particular order, three books I feel to be particularly valuable are -

1)  Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.  This is probably the most technical book of the three but also one of the most enjoyable. Widely regarded as one of the best books about punctuation on the market, Eats, Shoots & Leaves teaches an essential but mundane aspect of the English language in an engaging and enjoyable way. Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a prime example of education being more effective when it is also entertaining.
2)   On Writing by Stephen King. Stephen King is widely regarded as one of the best popular storytellers of the modern era. On Writing explores King’s own journey as a writer, which is inspiring in and of itself, as well as the process by which he writes and edits his work.
3)   The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. In The War of Art, Pressfield delves deep into the creative process and the frustrations and struggles we all face as writers. Focusing not on the technical craft of writing, but instead on the inner drive needed to create, this book covers a valuable but often overlooked part of the writing process.

When you find the right book to assist you on your journey as a writer, it becomes almost like an old friend that you can turn to for advice and reassurance when you need it most.

Ongoing Education For Writers Recap

Long gone are the days where education was a scarce resource available to the privileged few. Nowadays, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to the variety of ways to gain a deeper understanding of the writing craft.

Be sure to enjoy your ongoing education as a writer, and please feel free to share any other sources of writing education you’ve found personally helpful in the comments.

Dave Chesson

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About the Author

Dave Chesson is a master Jedi at book marketing and the author of Kindlepreneur.  To succeed in today’s competitive kindle business, you need to be part  writer and part marketer.  His website on self-publishing is devoted to  helping you with the latter. Find out more at Kindlepreneur.com and find Dave on Facebook and Twitter @DaveChesson.

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