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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question addresses the pros and cons of writing classes. If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
What are the pros and cons of writing classes? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach.
I have a question from Lisa Visser, a writer based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here’s what she’s asked via email:
“Can writing courses — or even, writing groups — become their own form of procrastination? I often end up taking a course rather than working on my own project. This has made me curious about the value of spending my time on such efforts. What’s your opinion?”
Thanks for the question, Lisa. It’s amazing the way writers can procrastinate, isn’t it? I used to do things like work on my income taxes before I’d start writing. Even that loathsome job seemed more desirable than writing!
Now, I’m not trying to suggest that writing classes are loathsome. Many of them are quite fun and can help your development as a writer. But always remember they are SEPARATE from the act of writing.
Whether you choose to take a class should really depend on the amount of time you have. If you have enough time to take the class, do the required homework — don’t forget about the homework — AND to work on your book, or whatever it is that you’re writing, then that’s fine.
But if the class is going to compromise your ability to work on your own writing project then, yes, it is a form of procrastination.
What separates writers from other people? They write. They don’t just talk about it. They don’t just read about it. They don’t just think about it. They take their fingers and put words on the page.
Also, since you mentioned writing groups, I want to say that they, too, present problems — but for a slightly different reason than writing classes.
The difficulty with writing groups is that they often require participants to read their work aloud. But most people don’t want to read their work aloud until it reaches a certain level of excellence. That’s perfectly understandable.
The problem is, people in writing groups often end up trying to edit their work far too soon. I’ve always suggested that most writers will benefit if they allow themselves a minimum of six weeks before editing. Trying to meet the demands of a writing group can play havoc with your own writing schedule.
Basically, becoming a writer is a time-consuming, long-term commitment and classes and writing groups can essentially rob you of the time you need. Instead of looking to learn more, look to find accountability partners who will hold your feet to the fire in terms of writing x number of words per day.
Finally, let me wrap up with a quote from bestselling writer Gretchen Rubin: “Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.”
Lisa, I applaud you for wanting to improve your writing, but I also echo your own concern that writing classes and even writing groups can be detrimental to the writing process.
I think that particular figure of speech is called an irony….