It takes courage to join a writing class. Actually, probably more courage than you might expect on first glance, or when you make the initial decision to enrol. So youíre going to learn about writing, with a tutor to help, and with a group. What could be so courageous about that you may be wondering?
Well, a writing class is not the same as many other classes we might enrol in as adults. Thereís certainly a lot the tutor can teach, but the writing itself must come from within each student. Itís not a physical skill such as learning how to perform CPR or using materials to perform a task where the steps can be taught and practiced, easily corrected if the technique is wrong.
Writing classes are probably more like art classes where your ideas come from within. The tutor can assist in drawing out the natural abilities the students have. Techniques can certainly be taught. And practice sure helps. But thereís so much about writing or other creative pursuits that just has to come from the writer. In many ways the purpose of attending these classes is to bring out the creative uniqueness of each student.
One of the first things you are asked to do in a writing class is to actually do it. To write. Something. Anything. Get words on the page. Stop critiquing or correcting. Stop the thoughts and let the words come and get on the page.
Then, and this is where the courage comes in, you are asked to read out what you have written to the rest of the class. This may or may not be a voluntary pursuit. In some ways it's better to break the ice if it's not voluntary but I guess no one will be absolutely forced to read their work if they don't want to. The problem with it being completely voluntary is that students won't get the full experience of writing - to let the audience have it.
Reading your work aloud means putting your words out there in the room, to reach others' ears. Of course it might help to note that your words may or may not fully reach those ears. What you probably donít realise at the time is that the others may actually be so focused on their own turn to read that they donít really hear what you are reading.
You pause at the end of your reading to check reactions. Silence may mean many things. A round of applause may, similarly, mean many things. The tutor may provide comment. Hopefully the class has been set up as a supportive one, recognizing that everyone is there for the same reason, all in this together. Even the tutor might reflect on what learning is happening for him or her through the process of teaching. Having a safe space together to explore, to experiment, to test out ideas. Thatís what a writing class is really all about. It's not for the fainthearted though.