Group classes offer feedback, friendship and fun.
One-to-one lessons are a great way to begin writing, allowing you to focus on topics that are specific to you and to have individual attention for the entire hour. They are also, I feel, a must for anyone needing a gentle prod to the finish line of a novel (novel coaching).
But there’s a lot to be said too for group lessons and indeed, alternating between the two. Aside from the fact that group classes are cheaper than one-to-ones, they offer friendship, feedback and fun.
I have been teaching a Friday morning group class for a few years now. It consists of six wonderful women, each of them interested in writing in a different genre, each of them having different writing goals. Yet they all come together each Friday morning to learn something new or to remind themselves of something forgotten, that they can then apply to their own writing.
This group grew organically. Some of them came to a class I used to teach upstairs at the local library. Some of them joined as they’d heard about it from a friend. All of them, for a while, came to my house for lessons. Now, all of them log in via Zoom.
They have become friends with each other, with me. I’m not surprised really, as writing and reading out your work to other people fuels connections. And so whilst this means karaoke nights and wine-fuelled dinners, chatty walks and picnics in sunny back gardens, it also offers up something wonderful from a writing point of view.
Aside from me, their teacher, each person in this class has five other readers, always ready and willing to read a new piece of work, to offer tips and advice, to give praise and encouragement. It’s a great writing support network, made up of people who are keen to see everyone in the group succeed.
Depending on the make-up of a writing group, it can also be a lot of fun. This particular Friday morning class often results in guffaws of laughter, particularly when the lessons are about creating authentic couples, composing the dialogue of a break-up, or writing a sex scene (it took me ages to recover from that last one).
Writing is such a solitary activity that coming together, once a week, with friends who write (or indeed, writers who became friends) to hone a particular writing technique or to brainstorm ideas for stories or learn something new is truly fabulous. It’s a reminder that writing is supposed to be fun.
For anyone wanting to have a group lesson with me, ask around and see if anyone is interested in the same genre you’re hoping to write in. Do you both want to write Picture Books or Science Fiction? Are you both keen on learning everything you can about screen-writing or short stories? Do you both already write and want to have a refresher course on some key topics? If you find that you’re interested in different things, a group can still work (just as my Friday morning group does) as so many topics and techniques can be applied across all genres.
You can also ask me if I have any other sole writers who are looking to be in a group and are available for lessons at the same time as you.
-- Deana Luchia