Monday, 5 October 2009

Do writers go to college

Tell Me a Story - question time .

AJ, Do writers need to go to college? I mean people who write books. Not technical writers or journalists or anything. I'm talking about the author of a fantasy series, a book full of laughter, a tragedy, a romance, a thriller, whatever. If so, what kind of degree do you need to be one?

Hi Demi. Some universities certainly offer courses on creative writing, but a degree isn't necessary to be a successful writer. I do actually have a degree, but it isn't related to media in any way, so it doesn't count.

All skills have to be learned.
As my interest in writing deepened I realized that I needed to understand the principles involved, so I studied numerous books on creative writing. I also completed a correspondence course on writing.
Very few people are born with the ability to put a coherent story together. Everyone has to learn, either by years of experience and disappointement, or by studying what has gone on before and proved to be successful. Remember, any skill worth it's salt has to be learned. If every man-jack could write, would it really be worthwhile doing?
Artists don't just pick up brushes and paint successfully; they study for years. Sculptors, musicians, dancers and actors are the same. Why should any sane person think it's different for writers?

All artists are craftsmen. Not all craftsmen are artists.
Writing is a craft. Like all crafts it can be learned, but an apprenticeship has to be served. To turn that craft into an art that readers will take seriously takes something extra - and that is what keeps writers striving - the search for that extra dimension. This can only come when you thoroughly understand the principles involved.

Formal tuition.
Admittedly some writers don't go down the path of FORMAL training, instead they 'teach' themselves through years of reading and attempting to write. Don't be fooled by tales of 'overnight' success - generally it involves years of closet writing before the 'magical' discovery.
Formal tuition cuts those years down, you get to understand the why and wherefore of what you're doing, and if you participate in a course, you have a guiding hand too - feedback is a very important element of writing.

A different slant.
If you’re interested in studying, you should at least search for modern books on the writing craft. There are numerous available to choose from. As with everything, it's down to personal preference which book will suit you best, so maybe purchasing one or two will be preferable. I had about three on the go at once, at one time, each taking a different slant and emphasis, but each good in it's own right.

Good luck with it Demi. Hope it all goes your way..