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See It Through And Reap The Rewards

June 7th, 2019

When you’ve looked at the writing courses on offer and made the commitment, a strategy can be helpful to ensure you’ll get the maximum benefit.

I’ve recently completed the poetry course with The Writers’ Bureau, and found planning helpful in keeping up the momentum. Here are ten suggestions to remain on track from selection to completion. There is so much enjoyment and satisfaction to come!

    1. When choosing your course, whether purely for interest or with an aim to be   published, read everything the website can tell you about it. Don’t be put off by a suggested timescale. (I completed mine with very few weeks to spare.)

  1. Pounce on the course materials. Read the introduction and details of the first assignment carefully. Flicking through the next few modules may whet the appetite.
  2. Plan your writing rate and submission goals. For example, a target number of hours per week, to include reading the course material as well as writing. If there are, say, twelve assignments over two years, your goal might be to submit every six to seven weeks. But if you can’t keep to this, never be tempted into ‘that’ll do’. Make it The Best!
  3. Keep a notebook with you always, including at night, and jot down ideas, snatches of conversation (one spawned a prize-winning short story for me!), themes, or issues that upset, annoy or inspire you.
  4. On settling to work, check the notebook. If there’s no light bulb moment, think about an event and ask ‘what if?’. Start a rough draft and try not to edit as you go along. I found it best to have both something starting from scratch and one piece in mid-edit.
  5. Keep a log of your work; it’s very motivating to see it piling up. For each assignment I kept a folder with a copy of the submission, the feedback, and the resulting edited version. Keep a note of submission contents and grades – this will hopefully show progress and be motivating.
  6. Examine feedback carefully; if points are repeated, that needs sorting. You may not agree with every point but each will have a reason. Bask in positive comments.
  7. If it’s a struggle, or there’s a troublesome issue, ask the tutor for advice. It can be hard to be objective about our own work.
  8. Expect variable enthusiasm levels! Typical is a burst of creativity followed by a slowdown, then an increase in energy as you get into the second half of the course. Update friends/family on progress – that helps avoid temptation to ‘take a break’.
  9. If you hope for publication, make notes about target markets as you go. If the course is mainly for enjoyment, why not build up a catalogue of the work to take pride of place on the bookshelf?

Wishing everyone a fulfilling, successful – and completed – writing course!

Jacqueline says: I’m a former educational psychologist with a long history of non-fiction publication and some fiction success. Most of my friends in real life and on twitter are writers, I realise. Our son gave up his teaching job nearly two years ago to concentrate on writing his first (crime) novel, and he was in the top 5 of 3,500 entries in a national debut novel competition last year. The complete work is currently doing the rounds of agents and he is well into the second novel now. My favourite saying: The apple never falls far from the tree!

 

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