Where do you learn to write?
Way back in the dark ages, when I started writing, I learned from books. I bought books on point of view, setting, story structure—everything I could get my hands on. I have two large shelves full of books on writing craft. I also went to conferences—you remember we used to do that back in those pre-COVID days long, long ago. I would go to writers’ conferences and listen to lectures, taking notes furiously (which I rarely ever looked at, but just the act of writing the notes allowed the information to soak into my subconscious—or so I tell myself).
About five to seven years ago, I discovered online courses. I don’t mean Teachable or Udemy and other such websites, I mean Savvy Authors, and chapters of the Romance Writers of America and other writer’s organizations that offer online courses. There are a lot of courses being offered at these places!
I’ve taken many courses with the Beau Monde (when it was a chapter of the RWA) and Regency Fiction Writers (since it became independent). I’ve taken courses at other RWA chapters as well.
Generally, these courses are offered in group forums, either on the website of the sponsor or on groups.io (or Yahoo Groups, when I first started taking and offering them). The teacher will post a short description of the day’s “lecture” and then attach a PDF for students to read on their own. Sometimes there’s homework, sometimes not–depending on the type of course it is.
When I take a course now, it’s usually for informational purposes so I’ll tend to file the PDFs away in a folder on my computer and only read them when I actively need the information for a book I’m writing (they’re the source for my research). But there are lots of people who take writing craft courses where there is homework and the instructor will read and comment on your work (actually, I recently took a course on editing that was like that, it was incredible).
Mostly, I now don’t take so many courses as I offer them. I have a course on self-publishing that I offer every now and then (which is mostly teaching authors how to format) and another called Microsoft Word for Writers. I could teach writing craft, but I do enough editing and reading of other people’s work that I really have no desire to do more. A writing coach friend of mine offers group coaching that’s basically a beginning writing course.
I’m just wondering, though, how many people take these courses nowadays. I recently taught self-publishing for the Regency Fiction Writers and had 30 people in the course, but now I’m teaching it again at another RWA chapter and I’ve got five. I look at the numbers of people who’ve signed up for courses on Savvy Authors (where I frequently teach) and there are, on average, about ten people signed for courses—it varies depending on the type of course it is with marketing courses getting more people and craft and technical courses getting fewer.
So, where did you learn how to write? Did you learn from a book? From live seminars? Or did you take courses online? I’m just wondering about how many people still do this. Let me know in the comments below!