Today is Day Two of the 28-Day Blog Challenge for Authors (learn more about participating here) and the prompt is:
What kinds of classes, programs, or workshops have you taken to hone your skill as a writer? What sorts of exercises did/do you use to improve your craft? Have you ever taught a writing class or workshop?
As I've talked about before, most of my writing experience involves magazine and web articles. I graduated college with a Bachelor's degree in English and took a few journalism classes including magazine writing and desktop publishing. The formal style of writing I learned in my college courses may have helped with my freelance writing assignments, but it has a tendency to get away with my works of fiction. I'm trying to loosen up my writing and have a more relaxed and natural style.
I did take one creative writing course during my senior year. We were given weekly prompts along with being asked to share a short story for peer review. The course was taught by an adjunct who published a book that I read, but hated. He was an okay teacher, but was more into chewing the fat than offering up much helpful advice. This class was my first time sharing any fictional writing with strangers, so obviously I was racked with anxiety for weeks before my critique. The short story I created was called Misconception and it involved a woman who lost a baby after she found out her husband was cheating on her. Most of the feedback I received was helpful and for the most part, positive. At the time, I was upset when someone said it had a Lifetime movie ending, but looking back I now realize it was pretty accurate.
I haven't taken a workshop yet, but I have been looking into a few. I live in Jersey which makes New York and Philadelphia based workshops pretty accessible. Unfortunately with the two adorable maniacs I'm raising, I have to use more online options to improve my craft. I usually can type in free writing exercises into Google and find a tremendous number of blogs that provide examples. Free writing has been a huge help when I've gotten stuck during certain scenes in my story.
I'm interested to see what other authors participating in the challenge have done. Since I'm a newbie to novel writing it would be great to hear about tools that they've used to improve.