Jean Hannah Edelstein, friend of Write for Your Life and ace writer, answers the question:
The people who I know who’ve taken creative writing courses in the UK – particularly masters’ programmes – cite the time, space, and focus that they provide as the key benefits. They can also help writers to build valuable networks.
I am one of those people and this is spot on. My MA Writing course put me amongst a load of other writers who had the same interests and were at a similar level.
Sure, I learnt lots from my tutors and their feedback was always, without fail, helpful and accurate. But nothing they gave me was anywhere near as constructive as simply being in that environment – writing alongside other writers. Giving and receiving feedback. Sharing stories.
Jean also says:
I do think some courses are banking on the fact that some people will pay a lot to be turned in to novelists… and it may become exploitative if the courses aren’t rigorous and selective.
This is also true, sadly. There is a market for writing courses because a lot of people want to be writers. But that doesn’t mean that everyone should be writers.
I found that the standard of writing was pretty high, but there were certainly some exceptions. And that was eight years ago, before creative writing courses really took off.
I’m pretty certain that as university budgets have been squeezed, the criteria for getting on courses have become somewhat woolier. Unfortunately, I guess that’s just the state of things. The way the world works.
I spoke about creative writing courses in more detail in one of my video episode thingamajigs last year. Check out the discussion in the comments thread too.