Four Benefits of Not Studying Writing


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Many universities offer courses, or at the very least units on writing, and specifically creative writing, and plenty of writers choose to study these. I myself am finishing up a Bachelors in Professional Writing and Publishing at the moment (bring on the end of November!). However, while there are obviously a lot of benefits to taking a formal writing course, it’s not absolutely necessary for becoming a writer. In fact, a lot of writers have been trained in other careers and moved into writing as a hobby before getting published. And while there are obviously a lot of benefits to formally studying writing, there are quite a few benefits to not studying writing in college/university too. Here are four that I’ve noticed.

You Get To Discover Your Own Voice Without Pressure

Taking formal writing classes means that you’re often under pressure to create, and knowing that you’re going to get graded on your writing means that there’s even more pressure to write something good. This means that your natural writing voice can get lost inside attempts to write something that is going to get good grades. Learning as you go gives you a more relaxed environment to get to know your own writing style in, away from grades and deadlines and the scrutinizing eyes of tutors.

You Can Write What You Want

I’ve written a lot of assignments that I’ve never had any interest in, save for the fact that I’m getting graded on it. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t put my best effort in of course, but it’s certainly not what I wanted to write, and most of the ideas I come up with in my attempt to brainstorm assignment ideas simply aren’t practical. Learning as you go and teaching yourself allows you to dedicated your time to writing what you’re interested in, not what’s going to fulfil assignment requirements.

You Don’t Have to Write In Genres You’re Not Interested In

I have no interest in writing poetry, or creative non-fiction really, but I’ve had to have a go at due to my university course. And while there are always good things to be learnt from all attempts at writing, including those in genres you’re not interested in, or not good at writing in, sometimes that time is better spent honing your skills in a more useful area. Learning by writing gives you the freedom to better your skills in genres you actually want to write in.

You Learn at Your Own Pace

The ideas behind writing often take a while to sink in, and sometimes those weekly topics just go by too fast to allow you to really take it all in fast enough, especially when it’s the end of semester and you’ve got final assignments and exams to worry about. Writing outside of study, you are in control of how fast you want to learn, picking skills up when you need to know them, and not when someone says that you should be understanding them.

These are just four of the benefits of not studying writing. Next week I’ll be listing some of the benefits of studying writing, beyond the obvious fact that you’re physically being taught the craft. Come back next Monday for the second installment!

Do you agree with any of these benefits? What would you add to this list? Are you studying/planning on studying writing in college/university? If not, what are you studying/planning to study?

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  1. I won't be studying writing in college even though I want to be a writer, but I am pretty sure right now that when I get to college I will be majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering, because I want to be an engineer as my full time job. Right now, writing is a hobby for me, and I do it purely for fun. That's part of the reason why I don't want to study writing in college. Like you said, you are constantly being pushed to churn out new content and sometimes write pieces that aren't what you prefer. I feel that would make writing more of a chore for me and more stressful. That said, it's also a good thing because I'm sure you'd rapidly improve that way. Also, writing is something that is easier to teach yourself than engineering. Anyways, I hope you're enjoying college and learning a lot about writing. It sounds like you are!

    1. Those subject sound really awesome to study. And writing would make a lovely change and rest from engineering studies. That would definitely keep writing fun, and I think that is one of the most important things in writing.

      I've definitely been learning a lot. It's been hard work, but very much worth it. I definitely understand not wanting to study writing though. Writing becomes very different once you start studying it.

  2. This is such a great and informative post Imogen. So many people tell you to "follow your passions" and "peruse your dreams" when it comes time to deciding on a career and a major, but writing is one of those rare instances where that's not always the best idea, for the reasons you've mentioned here. Just writing on your own lets you write without feeling pressured or forced. Thanks for sharing this and, as always, fabulous post! ♥

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    1. That's one of the amazing things about writing. You can follow your dream and learn in the way you like best. It's one of the few things you can do that with. Some people, like me, enjoy studying writing, but it's nowhere near mandatory if you want to be a writer.

  3. Yesss, these are like ALL the reasons I actually don't eve want to study writing. O.o I've done courses before, though, which did teach me a LOT, but I always found that if I wasn't interested in what I was writing, I totally didn't put enough effort into it. AND ALSO PRESSURE! I find it too stressful. >_<

    1. Pressure is one of the huge reasons I don't like studying writing, though I've loved a lot of other things about doing writing as a degree. I've had to write a lot of things that I haven't much enjoyed (creative non-fiction, I'm looking at you). It's so much nicer to be able to write whatever you like.

  4. I'm definitely not studying writing in college, not just for these reasons, but because I feel like writing isn't just you putting words to paper but you putting knowledge and thoughts and opinions to paper—and if I can learn to write without those things, like you said, then I would like to know about something else I can bring to my writing as well as whatever career I eventually decide upon. I definitely think there's a lot of value in learning to write on your own... After all, that's how everyone did it, back in the day.

  5. I love this post--it's so true. I'm not actually in college right now, because I'm waiting a year, but I know that the last few years of high school featured heavily, heavily, heavily in writing for me, and it was exhausting. I had to write so many papers about topics I wasn't all that interested in, and I had to balance that with writing my book and maintaining my blog. It got to be really exhausting because I had to spend most of my creative energy on writing assignments I wouldn't ordinarily seek out, which meant the stuff I loved took the back burner more often than not. I learned a great deal about writing through my high school career because I took a lot of classes that specifically targeted writing, but it was exhausting, and while I learned a lot, I'm glad that it's over. :) I think I'm going to major in Literature instead, as a sort of happy medium.

  6. Great post! I think it has a lot of truth. I think it's better to write on your own and maybe join a writing forum or a workshop to get feedback and study something else. Most published writers didn't actually take a writing course at uni. Also, being a writer is so hard, there's no guarantee you'll actually be able to make money from it. This is why, it's better to study something else that will allow you to be financially stable.


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