Four Benefits to Studying Writing19:00
Last week, I wrote about some of the benefits to not studying writing at university/college. And there are some great reasons to learn how to write by experimentation rather than under the pressure of a formal course. But there are also some great benefits to studying writing by taking classes, beyond the obvious reason that someone is actually telling you what works and what doesn’t. I’ve spent the last three years studying the craft of writing and publishing at university, and I’ve discovered quite a few other benefits to studying writing through formal classes. Today I’d like to share four of them.
You’re Forced to try Unfamiliar Genres
This can be inconvenient sometimes, being forced to studying forms of writing that you have absolutely no interest in. But at the same time, having to write in other genres means that you have a chance to discover a new style of writing that you might actually like. I took a required unit on writing magazine features, and found a whole new set of skills in that style of writing. I’ve also discovered a love of writing for children after having to write the text for a picture book. Both of these are genres I would never have tried had I not needed them for my degree.
You Have to Finish Stuff
University and college is filled with dreaded deadlines that seem to sneak up on you with no warning. But there is an upside to this. You have to finish your pieces of writing to be able to turn them in on time. In writing, there is often a temptation to work on a piece of writing forever, until it’s perfect. But the problem is that a book will never be one hundred percent perfect, and you may get stuck trying to perfect a book instead of moving on and writing something new. Enforced deadlines are great because they make you have to finish things and move on.
You Can Learn Practical Publishing Skills
A lot of the units I’ve taken have taught me practical skills about getting published and how publishing works, even the units that aren’t about the publishing industry. My unit on magazine writing also taught me how to write a proposal for a feature article. My unit on writing for children taught me about the publishing process of a picture book works, and that’s not even mentioning the units that actually look at the inner workings of the publishing industry. The unit I’m studying at the moment is currently looking at the history of publishing in Australia, as well as contemporary publishing practices, which are both highly useful, and incredibly interesting.
You Can Get Some Awesome Resources
My writing textbooks are amazing resources. I have them sitting on the shelf by my desk so I can dip into them at random moments. I have The Editor’s Companion, which has helped me a lot in editing other people’s work, and Feature Writing: Telling the Story, which is a great resource for writing articles. I’ve reused these ones a bunch throughout my degree, and they look like they’ll be useful beyond university too. Plus I just got Making Books and Inside Book Publishing. I’ve only just started using these, but again, they look to be great resources, and they’re both books I would never have picked up had I not needed them for a course.
These are just some of the benefits of studying writing in university or at college. But there are plenty of benefits to learning to write by experimentation too. If you missed my post on that last week, you can check that out here.
Do you agree with any of these? What else would you add to the list? Have you ever thought about studying writing? Or do you prefer to learn as you go?