Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Course Is A Course Of Course, Of Course (or Setting Goals - Part 3)

Last week was a bit of a write off. I had a great time, watching the Aussies whip the Poms, had a few drinks out, had diarrhea - yep, it was a fun filled week. But zero writing was accomplished. And you may have noticed that my blog spoke of everything but writing.

So back on track.

Where I left you last, enthralled reader, was running through the goals that I have set. Goals that will form the foundation of my first attempt at writing a novel. So far, I have covered two of those goals.

I feel that if I strive to achieve these goals, I will feel confident enough to start my novel and organised enough to follow it through to completion. Whether the novel will be any good or not will be all up to me old noggin and how wonderfully intelligent it is. At least if I achieve my set goals and maintain them, then I have given me noggin at least a fighting chance to produce something that will be worth publishing and not something that should be banished to the toilet for when we run out of bog roll. I plan to write on very absorbent paper if that is any indication of my current level of confidence!

Anyway, Goal Number 3 - The Course. I'm going to ramble on a bit now, so if you want to scroll to the bottom, (or skip this blog altogether) then that's fine. I know at least two or three people who have heard about this Course enough times to want to hit me over the head with a crowbar if I ever mention it again.

I am going to be as brief as possible on this topic, for my own sanity's sake amongst other things.

The Course I speak of is the Writers Anonymous Comprehensive Writing Course (not real name). It is a self-study scenario with tutors helping out by answering questions and marking assignments. There are about 30 odd modules, covering every aspect of writing - magazines, travel, novels, plays, radio - you name it, they cover it. Hence the "Comprehensive" tag.

Anyway, way back in 2002, I signed up for this course. I wanted to write a novel; be a published author, but I wasn't having much luck. I had no idea what it involved. So I signed up for the course, hoping for some guidance. As it is self-study, there are no deadlines; you can take as long as you like.

Fast forward to 2006 (because I'm bored with talking about this already) and I am still doing this course. It has been a hard slog. I haven't really enjoyed it and haven't been able to commit myself to it for long periods of time. The main problem has been my decision to begin the course with the non-fiction modules (e.g. writing articles, etc). For four years this bored me senseless. I had no interest in it, but my pride kept me from giving up.

I then decided to ask my tutor if I could skip ahead to the fiction modules and go back to non-fiction later. She agreed and my interest and output has definitely improved.

The last few modules have dealt with novel writing. Hooray!! This is what I have been waiting for for four years. The related assignments, which I will be starting soon, deal with all aspects of novel writing (e.g. character development, planning your plot); something that is very relevant to what I am currently trying to achieve.

So now we arrive at my third goal (in a very haphazard and indirect way) - Completing the novel modules of my course. If I can finish the novel modules and their related assignments, I will feel a little more confident in my ability to write a book. I would have learnt a few skills, a few tricks of the trade and had some practice. In addition, I want to incorporate my first novel into the upcoming assignments. This way, my tutor will be giving me a "free" critique of some of the preliminary aspects of my novel. To get an expert's opinion will be an opportunity too good to pass up; it should put me on the right track from the beginning.

Despite how painful it has been for me to do this course and how much I bag it, it is a good course. I have learnt a lot from it, and I believe my writing will improve because of it. I do feel I am much better off now than if I had not decided, in 2002, to sign up. Which is just as well, 'cause four years later, you can imagine how much I want to see the back of it!

So, to summarise that load of codswallop:

Goal 3: Complete Course modules relating to novel writing, incorporating my novel into the assignments.

I plan to put the rest of the course on hold until I finish this first novel. (I can't see the benefit of starting "How to write for radio" when I am halfway through a novel).

I suppose the big question will be, will I continue with the course once I have finished my novel. I'm not sure at this stage - the course has been good, but it has also been a double edged sword, taking up a lot of my writing time, making me feel guilty if I'm doing some other writing and stopping me from putting 100% of my time into the one thing I am dying to do - write a novel. Hence my plan to milk the course for all its worth, and potentially leave it aside like something that has been completely milked dry. Like a cow, I suppose. Or something like that.

No comments: