Toying with the idea of taking up a creative writing course in the New Year? Jane Bailey signed up to one of our intermediate fiction writing courses in 2015 with the intention ‘to write more, to write differently and to write regularly’. Below, she outlines the peaks and challenges of her six month writing journey, and where she has found herself one year later.
This time last year I was almost halfway through the Creative Writing Online ‘Writing Fiction: Intermediate’ course with Anjali Joseph. I had deadlines to meet; exercises, reading, and modules to complete; and a community of fellow participants eager to share progress and encourage each other. The biggest change of all was that I had to make writing a priority.
I enrolled on this course knowing I needed to gain more focus and also in search of honest, constructive feedback. I wanted to be challenged to write more, to write differently and to write regularly.
Over the last fifteen years I’ve written quite a few short stories with a little success, and a lot of rejections. More recently I’d been working on a novel which I’d found very different and difficult, and I had begun to lose my confidence and the enjoyment I used to get from writing. I needed to find the fun again, but to be honest, I also knew I needed a kick up the backside to stop me from letting it all drift.
Well I definitely got that, though in the nicest possible way! The exercises set by Anjali were always thought provoking, whether looking at point of view, character or other aspects of writing. The material provided with the modules involved some great reading such as Hemmingway, Somerset Maugham, and James Salter. The exercises made me think about different approaches, taking my writing just a bit outside the box, pushing me to see something from a new perspective.
The biggest change of all was that I had to make writing a priority
I found the fortnightly deadlines a real challenge, which I didn’t always meet. The tutor and other course participants were always there online to support and encourage, and most importantly, I was forced to look at what I was prepared to give up in order to fit the writing in – something which has been really useful since.
The feedback from the tutor was always valuable. What I hadn’t anticipated was the camaraderie and the learning that came from sharing work with the other participants. The same exercise produced a diverse collection of pieces which were fascinating to read and discuss, and I felt part of a writing community.
I did gain focus and feedback, but I also gained a clearer understanding of different aspects of the short story; a wider set of tools to use when thinking about my writing, and increased confidence.
Since the course ended I have won a local writers group short story competition and another story of mine was placed 3rd in the Felixstowe Book Festival annual competition. I have recently sent off two more stories to national competitions, and I’m back working on the novel and having fun with it too!
Creative Writing Online is a partnership between Writers’ Centre Norwich and the University of East Anglia. You’ll be tutored by professional writers and benefit from UEA’s world-renowned expertise and knowledge.
The deadline for Spring 2017 applications is 19 December 2016.
Jane works as a development coach, based in East Anglia. Coaching face-to-face, or via telephone and skype, she supports people to set goals, overcome barriers and make change happen. When not working, or writing, she is a Trustee of Lighthouse Women’s Aid, an avid reader and also enjoys live music and theatre. To find out more about her coaching or to contact Jane go to: www.focuslifecoaching.co.uk or www.writecoach.co.uk