Writing Courses – are they worth it?

teaching at fishguard

Teaching at Fishguard Writers’ Holiday

There are so many writing courses around these days. Universities run them, publishers run them, magazines run them. In fact every Tom, Dick and Harry (if you’ll excuse the cliche) runs writing courses. Even the smallest town has a literary festival. But are they worth spending your hard earned cash on?

In my opinion, that depends on what you hope to gain. So before you begin, establish what you want and choose the right course for you.

I started my writing career by joining an Adult Education Class called Writing for Profit and Pleasure back in 1987. My tutor knew about getting published. Jean Dynes,who currently writes a column for Writers’ Forum as Barbara Dynes, was already well published.

  • Top Tip Number One: Choose Credibility
  • If you want to get published, get someone to teach you who is well published themselves. It helps if their students are too. I was inspired by another student in the class who had got published since joining (she’d just sold her 27th short story that year).
  • Top Tip Number Two: Choose Expertise
  • If you’re aiming to get published in a magazine and they run a course about getting published in their magazine, then go. They are the best people to teach you. I teach for Woman’s Weekly Magazine in London, Manchester and Glasgow, alongside their fiction editor, Gaynor Davies.

    Woman's Weekly at Blue Fin Buildings

    At Woman’s Weekly with Fiction Editor, Gaynor Davies.

  • Top Tip Number: Three Choose longevity.
  • I’ve just come back from the Writers’ Holiday at Fishguard, which is run by the lovely Anne and Gerry Hobbs. This year’s Writers’ Holiday was their 30th! They have a huge repeat rate of students, who can’t resist their courses because they are well organised, the food is fabulous, the locations (Fishguard, Pembrokeshire) is wonderful and the tutors are all working and well published writers. Top marks Anne and Gerry.
  • Anne and Gerry also run a weekend course at Fishguard in February. I’d advise booking as soon as possible if you fancy it because places are limited. I’m teaching the short story course in February 2017  by the way.
  • More information about Anne and Gerry’s courses can be found at Writers’ Holiday.
  • More information about Woman’s Weekly Courses can be found at. Woman’s Weekly Courses. (incidentally that photograph is not of me, but a much fatter imposter, tee tee).
  • More information about my courses is usually on my website, or you can email me. Next week I am running a day course (Saturday 6 August 2016.) Write a short story in a day. (£29 summer special offer, they’re usually £45). Venue Kinson Community Centre. Please email me if you’d like to book. Or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Happy Writing!

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11 Responses to Writing Courses – are they worth it?

  1. Sue Blackburn says:

    I’ve always loved the writing courses I’ve been on and would go on many more if I could. The trouble is being out in the sticks here there are only the odd few that are accessible.

    But I do belong to a brilliant online writers’ group who give wonderful feedback so you are learning all the time. If you can’t get to courses that is most definitely the next best thing. xx

  2. Above all, writing courses are fun and happy-making! You get to meet all sorts of interesting and nice people, some of whom may become friends, and even if you feel you haven’t learnt anything particularly new, you probably have …

  3. Alan Williams says:

    I’m actually signed up for a free writing course with Open Uni for October. Although it’s for beginners, I might pick up something. Obviously you have given me great insight already however I accept the warnings you give here, Della. Why pay monies or spend time with someone who has zero credibility?
    Well analysed and extremely pertinent in today’s over-saturated market place.

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  5. Linda says:

    The best thing about writing courses for me is meeting other writers and being able to spend uninterrupted time, thinking and talking about writing, doing the exercises and getting feedback. Writing is such a lonely business that being around other writers gives you much needed motivation. Just got back from the Woman’s Weekly historical writing course in London yesterday and feel it has given me my writing mojo back. Money well spent.

    Linda

  6. Alan Williams says:

    Just realised that it’s September time. For the past three years I’ve attended the Manchester WW workshop with yourself, Della, and Gaynor. Totally agree with Linda that there is value being with other like-minded individuals. Financially the WW course hasn’t helped me break into that market as yet but it has helped in developing skills and ideas.
    Della, I see your story Why Hasn’t It Sold (referring to a house rather than a story) is in Australia’s Spring Fast Fiction along with my Ticking All the Boxes. Well done to you.

    • Della Galton says:

      Hi Alan
      Yes, we’ve just come back from Manchester. Thought of you. I think that may be the last one now. Kind of sad about that but everything has its time.
      Thanks for your lovely comments about my story. Glynis was kind enough to send me a scan, bless her, so I’ve seen mine. Many congrats on yours too.

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