Does the name Hanif Kureshi mean anything to you? Well, if you've not heard already, he caused a bit of a scandal at the recent Bath Literary Festival, and a huge media storm, after commenting that writing courses are a waste of time. Why is it a scandal? He's entitled to his opinion isn't he? Yes, of course he is, but I would have thought that a creative writing professor at Kingston University would have kept these kinds of comments to himself. After all, it's not cheap to attend a university course these days - it works out at about nine thousand pounds! And, if I were one of his students, I'd be seriously wondering about the quality of teaching I'd receive from someone who so openly thinks the courses are a waste of time.
The reaction from writers has been pretty evenly split. Some people think courses are the best thing since sliced bread and others, like Professor Kureshi, think they are useless. What we believe is that courses can help some people and not others, which is true of most things in life. If you feel that you can launch yourself into writing without any outside help - you are free to go for it. All you really need is a good grasp of the language, some creative spark and the ability to follow submission instructions. However, we would question why you'd want to do that when you can have the benefit of a quality course that's been written by experienced, published writers. And that's the key - the course has to be quality. Rubbish courses, of which there are many, won't help you get your writing published.
But, if you pick yourself great quality course there are definite benefits. You can learn so much quicker on a course than you can by yourself because you don't have to spend time searching around the internet for information. It's all gathered together in a logical format, ready to be read and digested. Courses also offer you a structure to follow and can act as inspiration and motivation to continue writing when you're finding it tough and want to give up. These benefits alone are worth the fee we charge for our courses.
So, if you want to find out if you can really write, get yourself on a course so you can have the advantage of expert advice - it's got to be better than fumbling around in the dark by yourself!