All writers are students, right? We study craft while reading novels, we learn from our critique partners, we gather information at conferences (yes, even in the bar talking to other writers...). We are constantly learning more tips and techniques to help us tell OUR story.
So why does the idea of formal education scare the heck out of me?
I'm heading off to my first residency at Seton Hill in a couple weeks, and I am seriously worrying over it. The program sounds awesome: MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. Yeah, that means SF, Fantasy, Horror, Romance, YA--all the good stuff. No stuffy literature classes (though I did enjoy some of those in undergrad). Camping out with a bunch of like-minded writers for a week in June and a week in July (and reading and writing for online classes in between)--sounds fun, huh?
Still, I am nervous. I've taken online writing classes and learned a lot. Fast-drafting, Deep POV, How not to kill your characters... Heck, I've taught fiction writing classes for fifteen years at a local college. Why am I so nervous?
I think writers are generally, by nature, cowards. Ha. We like to think we are brave and bold and strong, but let's face it--anything to do with hanging our babies out on a clothesline for all to see...well, that is scary!
Do I think writers should take classes? Absolutely! Even when you don't learn a lot of new stuff, you get to be around other creative jellyfish. That's a great thing. You feed off each other. You leave the classroom, invigorated and ready to tackle that story. Right?
What has been the most helpful class you've taken? Or has individual interaction served the same purpose as a formal class? Do you think writers should take classes? Can you take TOO MANY classes? Would that stifle creativity?
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master--Ernest Hemingway