In the World of Writing, a writer can expand their knowledge through a multitude of avenues. Online resources. Conferences. Books. School, whether that be lower or higher education. And in both, creative writing courses are available.
Creative writing courses are hit or miss. In my writing group, this is the overall agreement. I have heard stories of both revolutionary and disastrous classes, attentive and insensitive instructors, as well as dedicated or lazy classmates. All of these factors, and more, contribute to whether a creative writing course is successful by its end.
This past semester, I enrolled in an intermediate creative writing course. It comes after the introductory course but before the final capstone that determines if you have met the university's graduation requirements. We had a graduate student for an instructor - only teaching for tuition reduction - and a small, cozy class of sixteen.
It was a miss. The instructor based the course on his interests (something he admitted more than once), often let his frustration boil over and create a tense classroom environment, directed his students to change the entire plots of their stories to fit, once more, his interests, and was wholly unprofessional throughout the term. Still, I worked around it and earned an A.
However, the failure of the class made me think of my future. For years, I have intended to pursue a graduate degree (or two) in order to become an English professor. Just as remarkable classes have me reflecting on how I will teach, terrible courses force me to consider how I will teach. Or rather, how I will not teach.
As an educator, I think it's important to prepare students for their endeavors beyond the classroom. In the writing sphere - creative writing in particular - this means a multitude of areas. So many, in fact, that it may be difficult to lecture, write, and workshop on top of addressing those subjects.
In a creative writing classroom, these topics are where I would start: inspiration (listing different prompt blogs when they feel stumped), commitment (when it comes to sticking to longer projects such as novels, especially), editing, publishing, and communities (even encouraging them to build their own). On the online platform the university would use, I would include various resources with each of these topics, including helpful essays, websites, blogs, articles, books, etc.
It's important to provide students with the resources they may need, explain or demonstrate how to use them thoroughly, and be open or available for further questions. That's what it's all about, isn't it? Making sure you give the students the tools to succeed in their given field? If all educators were more mindful of this - of their potential impact - the overall state of American education would be in a better place.
And maybe creative writing classes wouldn't be so hit or miss.
Please, share your thoughts with us below! Have you ever taken a creative writing course? If so, how did you feel about it? Was it a hit or miss? If there are any other tips or resources you think are useful, please comment them below! And if there is any writerly topic or subject you would like to see discussed, please don't be shy!