If you’re an aspiring writer I can’t recommend highly enough going on a writing course. I’ve been on three in as many years and always return home feeling immensely inspired to crack on with my writing. Not only that, but on every occasion I’ve had a great time, met new friends and learned a lot!
The downsides are that they can be expensive and you might find yourself having to travel quite a long way from home, but if you save up and don’t mind the journey then it’s well worth it.
I don’t mind travelling alone or walking into a room full of strangers, actually I quite like both, but I know it’s a cause for concern for a lot of people. If you’re worried about either of these things I’d say do something that scares you. I promise it’ll be worth it and you won’t regret it! Everyone I’ve come across has been very friendly and welcoming.
You do get the die-hards who all seem to know each other and it can sometimes feel a bit daunting to try to join in, but my advice would be to throw yourself in wholeheartedly, relax and enjoy yourself.
I went on my first writing course in 2014 after watching a TV documentary about how to write a Mills & Boon novel. Featured on the programme was The Watermill in Tuscany. I decided there and then that I didn’t care how much it cost, I was booking myself on that course!
A few months later and I was on the plane. Alone!!
As a busy working mum just going for a wee without hearing “Muuuuuum, can you get me a drink / find my craft set / fix the TV / save the polar bear / be my personal slave” (delete as appropriate) is unheard of, never mind reading a book uninterrupted with a plastic glass of wine in my hand – in the DAY no less! It was worth the money just for the extra long, uninterrupted wee I had on the plane.
A week in sunny Tuscany later and I’d learned so much that by the time I got back I was itching to start writing.
At the time the course was taken by Sharon Kendrick who is a very inspirational, enthusiastic teacher, with around 100 published M&B titles under her belt. Sharon provided a great introduction to the genre but I don’t think she’s teaching at The Watermill at the moment. Their website says there are no writing courses for 2016 but they do offer other arts courses such as painting and knitting, and it’s worth keeping an eye on their site for any future courses.
Last year I went to Kate Walker’s Writing Romance course held in Derby and organised by Lois Bird-Maddox of Relax and Write.
Here I met a lovely bunch of ladies: ‘Walker Stalkers’ as they call themselves. The ladies knew each other well and I was the newbie but they were extremely welcoming and took me under their wing. They all had far more staying power than I did and could drink me under the table but they helped make a fun course even ‘funner’!
Kate knows her stuff and has a host of fantastic tips to share. She’s straight-talking like Sharon, which is an important trait to have if you’re eager to get honest advice on your writing. When Kate showed us the first chapter of her new book, Destined for the Desert King, I realised why she was the successful author, and I was still trying!
Most recently I went to the long-running Winter Writers’ Holiday at Fishguard Bay Hotel. This is organised by the delightful Gerry Hobbs, and my course – The Novel – was taken by romance writer, Rachael Thomas.
Rachael was absolutely lovely; very approachable and friendly, and as a relatively new published author it was great to get her views on writing and learn about her journey to success.
The people in the class were people at their best – relaxed, happy and feeling comfortable enough to share their writing.
For me it was an 11 hour round drive, but it was well worth it, and I came back thinking I might just have the perseverance and confidence to complete a manuscript!
My next adventure will be the Annual Conference of the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association). This is a new one for me and I’m very excited.
After every course I always think I’ll give it a rest for a while and focus on writing, but at each one I find I pick up invaluable knowledge, which might one day help make me into a published author!