Writing is an interesting thing to learn, because nobody’s processes are the same, nobody learns the same, nobody focuses on the same things while actually writing, and there’s no guarantee that something that was an epiphany for one person will even resonate with someone else.
When I was younger, I tried reading some writing books and gave up on the whole lot of them because they weren’t working for me. They either were telling me things I already understood, or the techniques they were suggesting seemed weird and arbitrary.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that when you read a writing book or take a writing class, nothing is ever going to be a perfect fit, because everyone is different. So, what you do is take when does work for you, what does resonate, and you drop the stuff that doesn’t.
Sometimes there will be that near-perfect class that snaps something you weren’t quite getting into perspective. And sometimes there will be a class that rubs you wrong the whole way through and you only emerge with a couple of new tidbits that kind of work.
The important thing to remember is that just because a class doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean it won’t work for others. I just finished up a flash fiction course that a friend took and found very helpful, but the process rubbed me wrong the whole way through. Is it a bad class? No. It just didn’t work for me. Process thing. I still picked up a few things that will be good to think about in the future, even so.
So, how do you know if a class will work for you? Well–you don’t until you try. As time goes on, you’ll be able to tell what sorts of things work for you versus what doesn’t (for example, I hate writing to prompts just to write to prompts, and anything that promises “writing exercises” will pretty much make me want to scream) so you’ll be able to make some decisions based on class/book descriptions. If you know other writers with similar processes to yours, what worked for them might work for you. But otherwise–who knows? And something that might not sound great at first glance might be perfect.
What has worked for you? Any classes/books you found amazing? Any you found not so great?