FutureLearn: Fiction Course participation

On the behest of my good friend Gary I’ve signed up for FutureLearn’s “Start Writing Fiction” course.

This is an online-based course that aims to help people get writing, with a focus on the central skill of creating characters. This seems a great idea; often in my work I feel my characterisation is my weakest skill. Usually I’m great with concepts but less successful creating characters to experience those concepts (usually I find my own characters to essentially be cardboard cut outs, to be pulped at my whim).

Even as an established writer, I feel it’s great to be able to take opportunities like this to get a better sense for my craft and hopefully learn some new skills so I can write better things in the future! If I can say at the end of this I’ve learned some new ideas for making my writing better and more enjoyable for readers, I’d say it’s a success!

The course is free and estimates to require around 3 hours a week commitment for 8 weeks. I’m of the opinion that anyone with a predilection and passion for writing should at least give it a go; there’s no monetary commitment needed and even the busiest of busy people should be able to find three hours a week to better spend learning something creative!

I’ll hopefully post a couple more posts as the course goes on to highlight my progress! But I’m seriously looking forward to this – it’s a new direction after all!

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Starting Uni – What It Means for My Site

So next month I’ll be starting my Open University course studying English Literature and Creative Writing (a slight but I feel important course correction if you forgive the pun!); I wrote previously about how I came about deciding to embark on this endeavour and fair to say I’m both excited and extremely nervous but it’s something I want to put my all into.

Seeing as this website has been a pretty effective vehicle in hosting my writing and being a cart onto which to load my thoughts about writing (and, yes, the eventual, intangible realisation that writing is something I want to do professionally) I figured it would be only fair to say how my studies will affect the output you see here.

While my studies are going to be a priority for my free time, I’m definitely aiming to keep the publication of short stories and project updates as business-as-usual as possible; I’ll try to put up a new short story once a month or thereabouts. I’m also aiming to chronicle my journey through the Open University with monthly posts. (Like my website updates; these’ll probably fall into the category of “academic updates”)

Certainly, disappearing into a bunker for the duration is an option but one I don’t want to pursue. Studying doesn’t mean giving up my hobbies and pursuits; indeed, the former would never have happened without the latter and working on my ‘casual’ writing projects is as important to me as my studies. I’m studying to professionalise my talent and make my work better! Also, I feel maintaining a foothold in my other pursuits is important for giving me a bit of variety – burnout is not something I want to experience!

University – Looking in Both Directions

I don’t usually like to talk about the future and my plans for it because I feel it’s an empty subject filled with maybes and might-do’s. I much prefer to tell you about things I’ve done and heave ready to share because that’s what people want, isn’t it?

Anyway, I’ve made a few decisions about my future and I feel I should outline a pretty important one of them today.

This coming October I shall be starting a degree course in English Language and Literature with the Open University. (For those not from the UK, the Open University is the UK’s top distance-learning organisation and considered a bone-fide university, just one you attend from home mostly via the web)

Why am I doing this? To answer this question requires a trip down memory lane for some context. A couple of years ago I started to realise that this “writing thing” is something I really do want to genuinely pursue, and casually writing short stories, reviews and stuff will only get me so far, and my rationale is that any means to better know my craft is worthy of consideration. I’ve always been proud to consider myself “good” with the English language as a written word but there’s still a lot to learn and writing is all about a continual journey of self-improvement. Sure, feeling that I have a definite aptitude for the craft has inspired me to crack on with the hardest part of being a writer – starting off – and people have been very complimentary about my writing in the past but I feel that to make the next step in the journey I need to learn more about my craft than I can glean from simply reading a good book or getting some valuable feedback, although those things are really important in their own right.

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