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?