Dear Sherry: Classless

Dear Sherry,

I want to be a writer. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m writing short stories and thinking about submitting them, but I’m worried they’re not good enough. I’m worried that I’m not good enough. I haven’t taken any classes or workshops, and I don’t have a degree in creative writing like you do. Shouldn’t I have taken at least some classes before I try submitting? Will editors even look at my stories if I don’t have a degree?

Signed,
Classless

***

write-a-lot

Dear Classless,

The only thing stopping editors from reading your work is you. They cannot read your stories if they never receive them. By all means, submit your stories. The worst thing an editor can say is “no.” And you never know, one of them just might love it as much as you do and agree to publish it.

Do you need to have any classes or workshops or degrees to be published? Absolutely not. Some people find them helpful. I did.

Writing classes are great for honing your skills in the craft of writing. They help you learn to give and receive feedback, and they often teach writers how to navigate the business side of the industry with professionalism. They are wonderful for a lot of intangible reasons too. It is in classes that writers meet with like-minded individuals, finding their support group, their peers, and sometimes collaborators or industry connections.

However, you can get all of those benefits from being in a critique group, reading books on writing, and attending writing conferences and networking at the parties and in the bar. Yes, you read that right, I’m promoting bar-con! Keep yourself professional and the alcohol consumption to a minimum. Some of the best connections in the industry are made at the parties and in the bar of conventions.

As for the craft of writing itself, from what I’m seeing from editors and agents, they’re looking for a good story. Knowing how to write a good story isn’t something that can necessarily be taught. In a class you may learn how to make your good story even better, but you might not.

So take classes if there is something in particular about the craft you want to work on. Don’t take them thinking that they are the only way to get published.

Creatively yours, Sherry


Sherry Peters“Dear Sherry” is an opportunity to ask for advice on writer’s/creativity block, time management, the process of writing, and more. Sherry Peters is a Certified Life Coach who works with writers at all stages of their writing career looking to increase their productivity through pushing past the self-doubt holding them back. Her fiction has won the Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-book award, and been nominated for the Aurora Award, Canada’s top prize for Speculative fiction.

If you could ask a writing coach anything, here is your chance! Send her an e-mail at coachsherry@sherrypeters.com.

2 Comments

  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier November 5, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    There are great writing sources online too. The podcast Writing Excuses has given me some wonderful writing advice 🙂

    Reply
  • Lane Robins November 7, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I second what Sherry says. Classes are great, but they’re often pricey. And there’s a lot you can do on your own, or with critique groups, or online. Save the classes for when you’ve hit a plateau–where you feel like you’ve gone as far as you can on your own and you need a new perspective. Sometimes just reading a book about critiquing will help you look at your own work the way a stranger might and can help you home in on a weakness.

    Reply

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