This Huffington Post article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-joseph-davis/mfa-programs-_b_929183.html – links aren’t working today) argues that they are.
In my opinion, the most important pieces of information writers should get from such courses are:
Spelling and grammar (don’t laugh; it’s necessary)
The ability to follow submission instructions (so, so necessary)
Industry manners – eg don’t ever reply to a rejection
Some realism about (a) How long things take (b) How much writers earn, and (c) How few unpublished novels ever get published.
In my (reasonably limited) experience, none of these are taught in writing courses. But some other useful things are. Perhaps more importantly, you meet other writerly types, and may end up with a decent critique group.
Pictured: not a decent critique group.
6 thoughts on “Are writing courses worthwhile?”
This looks like it should have ended with howls and someone thudding awkwardly on the stairs below, but somehow I doubt it!
Ann: This incident passed with mere dirty looks, but there WAS a recent incident involving awkward kitty thumps down the stairs.
Ana likes to play with our fabric washing basket (which is shaped like a barrel), so I brought it upstairs one day, since it was empty – but I lazily left it near the top of the stairs rather than in the middle of the room. One thing led to another, and Ana rode it all the way down the stairs.
Knowing you are pretty familiar with ‘Cracked’ you may well have come across this already, but on the off chance – here’s a good one about the fears of parenthood: http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-most-horrible-things-nobody-tells-you-about-babies/
I quite like #4
Ann: CJ pointed me to that article. #3 reminded me strongly of the hilarihorrible incident with your angel-faced niece, a new flatscreen TV, and a seemingly harmless magnet car. My mum’s biggest scare was Vitamin Cs. . . I ate a bottle full.
Also, you meet the best freaks. (Weeeeeeeell…my experience of ANU’s writing courses was that, anyway).
Joe: Ooh! I did an ANU writing course too! – with Lucy Neave, when she was new I wonder if you and I ever met. CJ and I figured out years later that we were in the same room at least once – but we didn’t meet until September 2007.