Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Better Your Writing with a Class--But Just Any Class Will Not Do

The summer is nearly over.

When time passes so quickly, I get the sense that I've frittered the summer away.

That I am teaching a one-day seminar at UCLA on August first and that the enrollment is a little down from similar classes I've taught at other seasons of the year, makes me think you may doing the same thing. That worries me because the number one way to become a better writer is to take a class. But not just any class.

Here's the thing. YOu need to be cautious about where you take a class. I believe in taking them from organizations that carefully vet their instructors--preferably university courses or university extension courses. Most offer both on-campus and online courses.

It’s not that many great courses are not available online, but how do you know? If a novice has taken a class and gives it a great review, they may not even know if they didn’t get accurate or up-to-date information. All authors know about the biased reviews--both good and bad--that circulate on the Web. The ones written by the author's mother, as an example. So, if you spend a bit more for the best class possible . . . well, this is your career.

On occasion I've had writers plan a vacation to California to take my one-day seminars. They're thinking, the beach, Disneyland and, yes... a class! That makes the trip at least a partial tax deduction. Many films are made on the beautiful UCLA campus, so even the class is sort of an exotic treat for many. Here’s the URL for more information, just in case it's not too late for you: https://www.uclaextension.edu/r/Course.aspx?reg=U9836

If you live in the Southern California area you’re set. You can even register at the door. And if not and you must stay close to home there is a list of US universities with writers programs on my Web site at: http://www.carolynhowardjohnson.redenginepress.com/writers'_programs.htm I bet most of those universities have an online component.

When you decide on your next class you may be tempted to repeat patterns you've gotten into in the past--literature classes or grammar classes. They’re nice, too, but a real writing class will give you more information in areas you are less likely to already have encountered. It’s the nature of the thing.

So, go out there and get some more career-building information under your bonnet. I don’t think one of you--even the ones who are teaching classes of your own--couldn’t benefit from learning a few new tricks from other writing program teachers.

PS: The book cover images are of my book and Pam Kelly's. Many of UCLA Extension's instructors are authors in their own right; they have practical experience in writing, marketing, speaking and other skills that writers need today.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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