Tuesday, October 20, 2009

College Student? Like to Write? Not an English Major? No Problem!

I’ll be honest with you. I am an English major, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year did I decide on becoming one. For a while I was looking at going into Anthropology, and even Biotechnology at one point. However, I always knew that i loved to write and loved the idea of others acknowledging my work, so one semester I decided to sign up for Beginning Fiction Writing. It was a general education class, and anyone enrolled at the college was allowed to sign up.

If you’ve never taken a workshop class, they are usually structured like this: everyone submits a short piece close to the beginning of the semester, and every class period one to three stories are workshopped. Students will marvel and cheer, give constructive criticism, debate grammar, etc, when going through everyone’s work. It’s like having 15-25 personal beta readers for a day–not to mention the four credits you get for writing and reading stories. Pretty sweet deal, huh?

Well what if you don’t write short stories? What if novels are your thing? My advice to you is to start small. I have learned so much through having my short stories critiqued by other students and incorporated my knowledge into bigger works. What’s even better is that one of the short stories I have had critiqued in a workshop class ended up getting published, which made for a beautiful writing credit on my query letter!

You DON’T have to be enrolled in a university to participate! I know a lot of OPWFT’s followers have jobs and kids. Some of you have graduated already, maybe even ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. But here’s the thing–a lot of community colleges offer creative writing workshops. I know that my city’s community college does. I even know of an adult school that offers classes, and most of them are at night. This way, those of you working a nine to five job can enroll.

Don’t know how to start to even look for a writing class? Hop online and check out the website of your local community college or current university. If registration is nearing for next semester, you can usually find the schedules for classes. If you aren’t enrolled in college and can’t find the information online, try calling the college and setting up an appointment with a counselor.

Nothing is more important to a writer than encouragement and constructive criticism. Take advantage of your local college and find a writing class that can fit into your schedule. You might love the experience, and decide that it is in your best interest to pursue an MFA!

Original Post published on Old People Writing for Teens by GotYA contributor Sarah Harian. To view the original post and reader comments, please click here.

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