I'm a complete beginner - I've never written anything creative! Are these courses suitable for me?
Yes, absolutely! When we say ‘beginners’ or ‘introduction’ we really mean it – you’re not expected to turn up with a portfolio of work under your arm, though sometimes some students will have written bits and pieces before starting the class. Part of what a general beginners course (Beginning To Write or Introduction to Creative Writing) will do is take you through steps such as identifying the material you want to write about as well as looking at various literary/poetic techniques and tools. It’s a space for trying out a lot of new things and seeing what works for you. If it’s a specialist beginners course – Beginning To Write Fiction, Beginning To Write Poetry, Introduction to Children’s & YA Fiction, etc – all that is required is that you’ve a clear idea that the form covered is one you want to focus on for a number of weeks.
I have a little bit of experience writing - are these courses suitable for me?
Beginners’/Introduction classes also suit individuals who haven’t written anything in a while – perhaps not since school – or people who took a class years ago and are looking to get back into creative writing in a supportive and low-pressure ‘beginners’ environment. It may also suit people who write, but not creatively, as part of their jobs, e.g. journalists, lawyers, those working in PR, etc.
I've taken a couple of classes and/or been writing for a couple of years. Is a beginners/introduction course suitable for me?
You may get something out of a general beginners/introduction course even at this level, particularly if you’ve never taken a formal class before and want to familiarise yourself with the basics. Alternatively, you may want to try Intermediate Creative Writing instead, which is our recommended follow-up workshop to our beginner-level classes. You might also want to look into one of our Get Writing courses, which are designed as kickstarters for people who want to generate more work.
It’s also worth taking a look at our other course offerings, including specialist courses which may suit your needs more.
If it’s a specialist beginners class (e.g. beginners’ poetry) there will usually be a mix of complete beginners and people with some experience who want to focus on a particular form. These classes are a bit more intense than general beginners as the focus is on one particular form or genre.
How much time will I have to commit to the course?
Our beginners/introduction courses are typically 2 hours a week (usually 6.30pm-8.30pm on weekday evenings or 11am-1pm/2pm-4pm on Saturdays). Apart from this you will also be expected to devote a bit of time outside of the course hours to a) reading any material the course facilitator has provided and/or b) working on writing exercises. As the course goes on, you may also be reading your peers’ work and completing other exercises your facilitator has suggested.
How much writing will I be expected to do during the course?
There will be some writing within class time, with the option of reading work out to the group and receiving feedback. There will also be writing exercises or suggestions to work on outside of class time. By the end of the course you are likely to have a handful of short first-draft pieces with perhaps one or two pieces of work you have devoted more time to.
Will I have to read my work out loud?
Reading your work is not compulsory, but strongly recommended, as it’s a way of getting feedback from others in the group and it’s often a good experience simply to hear how a piece sounds when read aloud.
Will I get feedback on my work?
The short answer: yes. The longer answer: the level of feedback you can expect depends on the length of the course and the kind of beginner/intro course that it is. With our longer (6/8 week) courses, there will be workshops in which you can expect to get feedback on your work from both the facilitator and your peers in the group, as well as the opportunity to read out certain exercises within class. Your facilitator will discuss how they will run workshops when the course begins. With our shorter classes (1 day or 4-week courses) the emphasis is on getting work down on the page and covering key concepts, so you may only get a chance to share a couple of writing exercises within class. If you are looking for feedback on a large amount of work (e.g. part of a novel) we would suggest our critique services instead of a beginners’ class.
What should I bring with me on the first day?
Pen and paper is all you need for the first day. Your facilitator will let you know what, if anything, to bring along for later classes.
Can I take a course if English is not my first language?
It is certainly possible to take a beginners’ course if English is not your first language – this is the case for a number of our students. You should, however, have a comfortable level of English in order to get the most out of this course, meaning that you should be comfortable reading stories and poems in English. If you are familiar with the Common European Framework for the referencing of language competency, you would probably need a C1 level in order to fully benefit from a class.