Why Writing Classes Are A Waste Of Money (And What You Need Instead)

Writing classes are a waste of money (in general) because almost none (if any) of them address popularity, vicious criticism, or a broken motivation, which are the biggest obstacles to consistent writing. Close after those problems are a lack of good sense (see, blindness or dullness), lack of taste (no sense of proportion), and absence of grounding social integrity (a moral framework).

Wow, Victor! That Was Quite A List!

As in much of the performative industry, you are the product in writing, and any obstacles or shortcomings in your mind or spirit will show up in the fiction you create. I say this not to discourage you, but to illuminate what I see as a great lie in the hopeful-writers community: the idea that paying someone who has published to teach you about writing will make you good enough, polished enough, and competitive enough to win at the game, which mostly consists of people skills and marketing work.

Yes, That’s Right

I believe that people skills and marketing know-how (which consists not only of publicizing your work after it’s written, but writing towards a real market in the first place) have a lot more to do with writing success (as far as novel-writing goes) than snazzy paragraphs or engaging characters.

Heresy, Victor Poole! Now I Hate Your Guts, You Sellout!

Yeah, I know, I’m super cynical. By the way, I was eliminated from SPFBO, which I figured would happen, but at least my blogger said nice things about my book. (I have an “intriguing world,” for example.) I think people who downloaded The Slave from the East must still be reading it regularly, because my ranking has remained oddly high for the last several weeks. I was thinking of going wide, but my internet connection is currently less-than-speedy, and I’m not sure if I’ll go back into KU sometime.

So You Hate Writing Classes, Victor

Hate is a pretty strong word, but I wouldn’t spend my own money on them. I think writing classes can be a great way to connect with other people, and to learn baseline skills from really successful authors (by observing what they do, and emulating their attitudes towards writing), but I feel that people generally go into a writing class, and emerge afterwards, with either the same skills they went in with, or with lowered motivation.

Unless You Have A Great Teacher

None of what I’m saying applies one bit if a writing class has a great teacher who can connect authentically with the learners and give appropriate feedback that builds without creating obstructive discouragement. For example, I had one writing teacher (twice published) many years ago who listened to students, gave apt feedback, and just exhibited a generally helpful and connected attitude. A few months later I had another writing teacher who was frenetic, set unrealistically ambitious writing goals for the curriculum, and was more interested in showing off than in hearing or teaching students (I dropped out after a little while).

Unless You Find A Gifted Teacher, Youtube And Google Present Endless Info

Writing books is the best way to get better at writing books. Nothing prepares you for storytelling like actual storytelling, and there are rhythms and seasons in writing that you will never master unless you live them. I am not at all saying to publish what you write, until you’re writing well enough (which is a subjective matter, though I have a lot of opinions on the subject), but I am very much saying to write, write, write.

You Are Your Own Best Teacher

You are your source material, and you are both the teacher and the learner in the journey of your writerly self. No one in the world has access to you better than you do, and no one but you has that helpful feeling in your gut that directs your best efforts. Writing classes are, more often than not, nothing but a drain on your wallet. Give yourself the gift of an investment in yourself, and write part of your story today.

You’re reading Victor Poole. Mary is having fantastic adventures in the sequel to my alien novel. Stardew Valley has been a big thing in my house lately.

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