Two months ago, I began this mini-series on what attention collectibles are and how they offer a constant source of ideas to help writers write well on a regular basis.
This was followed by the second piece last month that named one “bucket” of attention collectibles I use regularly.
[Do check out both posts if you’ve yet to]
Now that a new month has kicked in, high time I wrote about another bucket of collectibles I use.
What’s this one you ask?
Glad you did.
Please read on to find out.
Yes, writing courses are attention collectibles too!
Today, I’m going to plug all those writing courses out there!
Okay, wait a sec. I see what you’re doing. You’re about to leave this page right?
Let me state for the record I’m not endorsing any one particular course. Nor am I getting any commissions out of it. Why, I won’t even name here the ones I attended. All in the name of neutrality and fairness.
Feel better now?
Good. Let’s continue.
Now in today’s world of easy access to all kinds of free resources to help writers, I wish to assure you there’s still a place for paying to access at least some of them. The good ones I mean.
And this from a guy who’s on temporary work contracts every few months (as I write this, I’m “between contracts”). In short, I’m someone who should, for all intents and purposes, stick to free stuff online.
So I think it’s safe to say that despite my circumstances, the fact I’m still willing to fork out hard-earned money must mean I know what I’m talking about. (Or at least I hope so!)
Yes. I believe paying for a course gains you access to valuable writing tools and materials you won’t find easily or for free. And these immediately become attention collectibles that help you write forever!
Best part? They are yours to keep for as long as you want.
Convinced yet, my fellow writer? All set to sign up for a writing course?
Well, hold your horses just a tad, please.
You see, the first thing — and I would argue the critical thing — to do now, is to ask good questions before shopping for a writing course.
“#1 What genre or writing style gets me all fired up?”
The first question is the most important. It sets the tone for what’s to follow in your learning journey as a writer.
Unless you’re a creative genius out to introduce the world to your own unique brand of literary genre, then like most of us, high chance you’re a writer drawn to certain established literary genres.
Is it children, young adults, or grown-up fiction? Or, like me, creative non-fiction stuff such as memoirs? Maybe you dig self-help/life hack books? Or historical materials? Why, you might even be a “mixer” of genres!
Whichever it may be, you must realise that each requires a different style of writing. And each doesn’t come to us automatically.
They need to be learned. One genre at a time. One style at a time.
Of course, you can always read broadly and deeply that genre/style, and develop the skill on your own through osmosis. But that might take too long, and your patience might run out.
Or, you could simply rummage across the Internet for free tips and listicles. That might work too, although such resources typically lack depth, giving you a mere sip rather than the full glass. Making you thirst for more.
Also, I would argue that most of us aren’t quick studies to master it all, nor have we the luxury of time to do so, unless we’re retirees.
So, having someone who’s walked the path before show the way, can really help save time. And likely ease the frustration when the plethora of online searches confuses and overwhelms.
“#2 Why do I want to learn this writing anyway?”
Maybe you want to start a blog as I did in 2019.
Maybe you want to write a memoir. Me too! (And I did complete one in 2020, though it’s still going through major self-rewrites now!).
Or perhaps you just wish to contribute an essay here or a commentary there on an ad-hoc basis, depending on which publication or platform. I’ve tried that too, and I can testify that it’s a fun and great way to flex those writing muscles. Even pocket some spare change along the way!
Whatever the motivation, paying for and attending courses can be the kick in the pants you need to start to hustle and produce. After all, who other than billionaires throw good money out of wallets just for the heck of it?!
Of course, you might just be a “course collector”, leaping from one to another because you have the time and money.
But mate, I’m sorry to tell you that a rolling stone really gathers little moss!
“#3 What does the course I’m eyeing offer?”
Having attended several courses (mostly online thanks to the Covid years), the following considerations are now what I look for when next I seek out a course and what it offers.
- There should be clear synopses about what the course can or can’t offer.
If you’re hoping to meet other fellow writers, then preferably sign up for face-to-face courses than online ones where you can’t properly connect with someone on a blurred screen or wonky WIFI.
If you’re hoping to connect with an editor to vet your drafts, you’re probably fairly advanced in the game, so an introductory course on writing won’t cut it for you.
- Materials, either in the form of pdf worksheets or PowerPoint slides, should come with the price. And these should be made available for participants to download and save for future reference.
- Recordings and transcripts should be made available into perpetuity, just in case something happens and you missed the course on the day it runs. If not into perpetuity, then at least for a reasonable amount of time eg a month. This will give you time to catch up.
And if you have the means (like Macbook users, who can now directly record and save live streams using the latest Macs), record and save your own copy when you play back. That way, when the vendor removes the recording, you will still have your saved copy!
Like watching your all-time favourite film again and again, who wouldn’t appreciate being able to revisit recorded lessons anytime you like? Especially if the content’s rich and you can’t absorb it all in one sitting.
- There should be lots of follow-up materials like additional notes, web links to more resources, Q&A sessions, and even opportunities to join a writing community too. After all, writing is a lonely undertaking, so connecting with fellow writers can really make the journey much more pleasant.
Better yet if the course throws in a free consult with the writing coach who ran it. These can vary from 15 minutes to an hour, to even a couple of sessions. And an open-door policy (coach’s contact info) for you to reconnect anytime down the road when you have more questions or writing concerns.
“#4 What’s next after the course wraps up?”
Asking this final question brings everything back full circle.
Just as I began by asking you what fires you up and why, this question forces you to reckon with the post-course syndrome that unfortunately affects us all.
Let’s be honest here. How many of us actually put even half of what we learned in past courses to good use? I’ve been in the workforce for nearly three decades and attended probably three times that amount of courses (mostly because the boss made me!).
But don’t ask me how many I can recall now or what I put to use!
The precious few I remembered well and have actually put what was taught to good use were those I volunteered for. Or paid for with my own money.
This is why it’s so important to know, even before you sign up for a writing course, what action you’re going to take when it’s done and dusted.
Now it doesn’t mean you’re going to immediately go out there after the course and become the next Stephen King. More likely you’ll need to review the materials again and again before you can even put the skills learned to good use.
And just to silence your inner Doubting Thomas voice, doing so doesn’t mean you just didn’t “get it”.
In fact, revisiting is why I prize writing course resources as my second bucket of great attention collectibles. And why you need to make sure what you pay for gains you lifetime access to these materials.
Cos then, like me, you can revisit your collectibles again and again to cement your knowledge and skills, and inform your next great piece of writing.
What are you waiting for?
Sign up, complete, and build your attention collectibles of writing course resources.
Then come back here to tell us all about it!
Onward my fellow writer.