I’m at a book festival, running around corralling authors and talking to attendees. Person A says to me, “You know, I’ve had this idea for ages, and I want to write a book. I just have no idea where to start.”
This question is one I can pretty much guarantee I’ll get at some point, whether it’s a book festival, a course I’m running, on a plane when I’ve told someone what I do for a living, or in a loo stall when someone slips a few sheets of paper under the door and says, “Can you just give me some feedback on this?”
My first answer, always, is “you have to actually sit down and write.” While it’s a somewhat blasé answer, it’s also true. If you want to get your novel written, you have to make the commitment to sit down and put words to paper (or screen, as the case may be). That said, it’s not always easy to know where to start. The concept of ‘just sit down and start typing’ is an easy one. But when faced with the blank page, suddenly we realize there might be more to it than that.
That’s where courses become invaluable. You come in with an idea, even if it’s as insubstantial as fog at the beach, and then we’ll begin playing with it. There won’t be any pressure. There won’t be any criticism. What there will be, and what you should expect from any writing course you attend, is support, guidance and inspiration. A first novel is often an experiment, and in this course we’re going to do a lot of experimenting; with words, with voice, with concepts and structure. You’ll learn what we mean when we say ‘you’ve got a unique voice’ or ‘consider the three act structure’.
Most of all, my courses at The Writing School are about getting you started and building on the excitement you already have going. You’ll commit to the six weeks, and in that time, I’ll help you figure out where to begin, who your characters are, and how to consider aspects of craft like point of view and whether to tell it in first person or third. When the course is over, hopefully you’ll feel inspired enough to keep writing. And there are always courses for the next steps, too. Once you’re writing, you can attend a course that goes a bit deeper into the elements of craft, so you can continue working with a group and getting feedback, even as you continue crafting. And when you’re finished, our self-editing courses can help you find what you might have missed.
Writing can be a solitary process, but with great courses like these around, it doesn’t have to be. Join a course for an inspirational, fun beginning to your writing journey.
By Victoria Villasenor
A version of this article was published in our 2015/16 programme.
Victoria Villasenor is a tutor for Writing School Nottingham. She is a development editor for a publishing house in New York, and also runs the social enterprise Global Words. She works with marginalized communities throughout the Midlands on writing projects, and is a multi-published author.
Victoria’s courses for 2016/17 are the short fiction building block courses The Short of It: Short Story Writing for Beginners; Short Story Writing; Short Story Writing Portfolio Workshop plus two one-day workshops: Between the Sheets: Erotica Writing Workshop and Self-Editing Crash Course.