For the past few years I've been taking one-night classes at StoryStudio, a great place that offers writing classes. I've also gone to a couple "write-a-thons", where for twelve bucks I can eat snacks and work on my manuscripts in the company of other writers. I'd like to take one of StoryStudio's longer writing workshops, but those cost more money that I don't have.
I've mentioned before that my first experience with a writing class was less than favorable. I took a workshop in college, and one of my classmates accused me of plagiarizing my story in front of the whole class, which I definitely did NOT do. The irony was that another classmate had actually plagiarized her story by copying an entire chapter from a popular novel. (I was apparently the only one who caught it, but unfortunately it was long after the class ended. To this day I wish I could confront that plagiarist for what she did.) I didn't like that class, not only because that other classmate had humiliated me in front of everyone else, but also because several of the other students were unkind in their criticism. The stories I wrote weren't very good, but there's a difference between constructive criticism and brutal honesty.
But fortunately, it's not like that at all in the StoryStudio classes I've taken. The instructors and the other students have been very encouraging, and I've enjoyed the writing exercises. One of my favorite classes was called "Quickies", where we learned to write flash fiction (very short stories). Another favorite class was taught by a former staff member for The New Yorker, who told us what it was like to work for the magazine and gave us submission tips.
It made me think about other things that I wish writing classes would cover, but I've never had the nerve to voice my suggestions. Here are a few of them.
1. How to deal with your jealousy of other more successful writers in ways that do not include writing their names in the stalls of public bathrooms.
2. How to stop procrastinating so much, because it can drive you to watch episodes of Jersey Shore. The problem with that is that some of your characters may end up talking, looking, partying, and falling down in public like Snooki.
3. Why writing parodies like 50 Shades of Tie-Dye may not be the best idea.
4. Ideas for what to do when you take a break from writing that do not include watching episodes of Keeping up with the Kardashians or Mob Wives.
5. Ideas for good songs to write to, because the problem with writing to the music of people like Britney and Lady Gaga is that your characters may end up wearing weird clothes, being married for only fifty-five hours, or breaking out into synchronized dance moves.
6. How to deal with distractions like noisy neighbors in ways that do not include sending them "YOU SUCK" messages on Twitter.
7. How to balance writing and your daily responsibilities, so that you don't end up tripping over piles of dirty laundry or eating candy for dinner.
8. How to write in cafes without whapping Wi-Fi freeloaders in the face with your notebook.
9. Good day jobs for writers that do not make you want to primal scream at the end of each workday.
10. How to deal with writer's block so that you don't feel tempted to give up on writing and audition for a reality show, because then you might become friends with the Kardashians or the Mob Wives.
What about you? Have you ever taken any writing classes? What do you think of writing classes in general?
Here's a funny clip of Ellen DeGeneres reading excerpts from 50 Shades of Grey:
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