Q: Do you think creative writing courses are a good idea?

They certainly can be, but like any course they vary a lot so if you’re thinking of doing one do your research. Look at who teaches it, what the content of the course is, and what others who have done the course have achieved. The MA I did at Bath Spa University has a consistent record of graduates being published and going on to win prizes and get subsequent book deals. That’s because it’s a great course. Others aren’t so good. Any course that promises to get you published shouldn’t be trusted. No one can guarantee that.

It’s certainly a myth that, because it’s creative, writing is something you either have a gift for or you don’t and that teaching is not going to make you any better. After all, no one would say that about music or art or drama or dance. No course can make you more talented – I could have the best dance teacher in the world and practice every day but I’d never be a brilliant dancer – but a good teacher will always help you improve. A good course will help you through practice, understanding your writing, working out how to achieve different things in your writing, thinking about different techniques, and may also give you practical advice on the publishing industry and finding an agent.

Obviously this doesn’t mean you can’t become a writer¬†without doing a course. Many people do and there are lots of books you can read, online writing groups you can join, and events you can attend to help you along the¬†way.