Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Some Thoughts on Writing Classes

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There are a lot of debates on the topic of whether writing can be taught. Stephen King gives his opinion (he's against them) in his amazing book On Writing. The quality of the class depends on the people involved -- the teacher and the other students. Because it's ultimately about getting feedback. Which is what I believe writing classes really come down to: teaching you how to handle constructive criticism.

Dealing with criticism about your work is a skill, like writing or rewriting, like plotting or character development. It's a fact if you pursue a writing career: you will face rejection. It will hurt at first. Or maybe the first few times! But after a while you become better at handling it until you develop a thick skin. First drafts (or second or third) are probably never perfect, and it helps to hear what others think. Of course, there's such a thing as too many opinions, and you don't have to make changes based on what your classmates say. It's still your story. But being open to constructive criticism may open your mind and help you make the story better.

I had never taken an official writing class until I signed up for Andrew Westoll's Creative Non-Fiction course (which was the topic of yesterday's post). It was fun hearing what others thought of my pieces (one humour, one more of a personal essay), and some of the feedback helped me notice things about my writing that could be improved. Because isn't that why we write? Other than the desire to tell stories, don't we want to improve? You can only stare at your own words for so long. Eventually you have to let the outside world see them, and writing classes provide a safe, hopefully compassionate environment.

I hope your weekend is filled with writing time and great books!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Aya Tsintziras

Aya Tsintziras is the author of the YA novel Pretty Bones, which was selected for the Canadian Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens in Spring 2012. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing a Masters of Journalism at Ryerson University.

Go to Aya Tsintziras’s Author Page