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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

C is for - Courses, Classes and Conferences

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Writing courses, classes, and conferences. I've been to lots over the years, and I love them! They're a great opportunity to learn, network and generally indulge in the writerly world.

There are many different kinds, some run by local colleges, writers groups, universities, and libraries, as well as other interesting venues. All are very different, and I find it better to attend with no real preconceived expectations.

Most have been well organised, challenging, fun and I've learnt something on the day. Although, it hasn't always been the case, occasionally I've been unlucky. There is nothing worse than coming away from a class, or conference feeling it was a waste of time, and money, and that it would have been more beneficial to have spent the day at home writing!

If you haven't tried a class yet, don't be put off. Do some research, ask around. Try your local library, search online, or better still, ask other writers who may have attended before you.

I'm based in Leicestershire in the UK, so I'll mention two I've visited. The city of Leicester is fortunate to have the Writing School  Leicester which runs many events and courses throughout the year, from poetry to YA fiction workshops, and everything else in between.

They've been in business for 60 years, and are highly respected, catering for beginners and those with more experience who want to broaden their horizons. I've made many writing buddies through the school over the years, and although I no longer attend their courses every week, I can highly recommend them, especially if you are starting out on your writing journey.

Swanwick Writers Summer School is a whole week of adventure which happens in Derbyshire, every year where writers return again and again. Its a residential week long conference, packed with workshops, speakers, panels and networking opportunities as published and unpublished writers hang out together for the week.
Many friendships are made, and much fun is had by all! You can find out more details here.

As mentioned, courses, classes and especially conferences are prime networking opportunities. Places writers can make connections with other writers as well as industry professionals. I often hear writers say they feel like they are living in a vacuum, and that they are in danger of becoming insular in their pursuit to write their novel.

My tips for conferences, are simple. Smile, be sociable and share. Most of all have fun.

What are your experiences?

26 comments:

  1. The writing course I attended was excellent, as were the one day workshop/classes.

    The conference type things I've been to were variable, but I got something out of each one and am keen to attend more.

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    1. I really enjoy the networking side of the conferences. Hope to meet you at one soon.

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  2. I started my writing life at Writing School Leicester too. I also highly recommend it. I've been on some excellent courses but I've also been on some expensive ones that weren't so helpful, one where all we got was a series of authors telling us about their lives! Interesting but not worth the course fee and it what I went for.

    Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain

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    1. Yes, I do smile when a tutor goes into a fifteen minute talk on their life, their success, their book etc
      I don't mind hearing their story, but I always think its better discussed over lunch, as people really want to get on and start their day.

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  3. Hi Maria

    I agree that not only are workshops great places to meet like-minded people, but there's always something new a writer can learn. In fact we met at a workshop didn't we!! Time for another piece of cake soon me-thinks!!

    Ange xx

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    1. Hi ange, and yes we did indeed meet on a workshop! Well remembered. Cake soon, when it warms up a bit...

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  4. I've never been to a conference, but it's something I'd like to do one day :-) x

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    1. You can do a day at Swanwick? They are a very sociable lot, and the networking is fun!

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  5. I'd be so scared to attend one of those classes,and I have the cheek for my post today to be about confindence.

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    1. I bet you wouldn't if you either went with a writing buddy, or arranged to meet a few there.

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  6. I've only been to an occasional half day course but they were good fun.

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    1. I've actually ran a few 'off the wall' ones for my writing group. We had such fun...perhaps time I sorted something else out.

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  7. I always come away from a conference or workshop with renewed enthusiasm for writing. I have never found any to be a waste of time. Just the connection with other writers is benefit enough.

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    1. Totally agree Pam, the enthusiasm is infectious!

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  8. I enjoy the Muse Online Writers Conference.

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    1. Now I haven't heard of that one before. After the challenge I may have to look it up...thanks for sharing.

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  9. I've never taken a writing course or gone to a conference, but I'm sure one of these days an online course will snag my interest and before I know it I'm shelling out money to learn something invaluable.

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    1. I hope you do get around to it, the definitely bring value to your writing life. :-)

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  10. Smile, be sociable and share- works for many situations! enjoyed this post. Good luck for the rest of the A-Z Challenge.
    Ebby

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  11. I went to a creative writing workshop a few years ago and it was awful, but I think it may have been due to my attitude/lack of confidence rather than the class itself. Now I'm part of a writers' group, I think it's one of the best things a writer can do for their work!

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  12. Good post, Maria. I agree, anything that gives you an opportunity to learn more about the craft and - even more importantly - allows you to meet more like minded people is something that should be pursued. Other than recently joining you guys at Phoenix Writers, I am yet to try a conference or workshop but it is definitely on my list of things to do.

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    1. Mr Kelly, when I next see you, I will share news of the ones you might particularly enjoy!

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  13. I took a writing course, and was very disappointed. That being said, I have learned from my mistake, (I found out much later it was for them to make money, not my learning...), that I might see about trying a class or group through my local college.
    And sociable? Well, if my voice doesn't squeak, I guess I can be!

    Cat

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    1. Do try again Cat, they can really help motivate, and you get to meet other writerly folk too. ;-)

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