Neil Bailey

Creative Writing for Beginners

“I looked at a number of novel writing courses but wasn’t keen to sit in a classroom nor did I want to do a long academic course – I just wanted to write, and write better. The Creative Writing for Beginners course looked like a good fit for my needs: three months covering the basics, working with like-minded folk around the country tutored by an experienced Penguin Random House Editor.

“This was my first attempt at writing fiction for over thirty years, so the whole creative challenge I found exciting and exhilarating. I created a character in the very first week who seemed to grow as the course developed, which was very satisfying. Our tutor was excellent – supporting and guiding us with just the right level of encouragement. I also liked sharing my learning and work with the other students; it was fun and the feedback proved very useful. I’m still working with one of my fellow students as we both attempt our first novels.

“For any people thinking about taking part in the course, I would advise that if you’re serious about writing you need to be serious about the course. Tutor feedback is constructive and shouldn’t be ignored; I would also encourage you to fully participate in the forums to get the most from the course. Give yourself enough time to re-work a submission if required: the course runs at a relaxed pace and there’s no need to panic if the words don’t always turn up for you on time. Finally, don’t rush the exercises and don’t be scared – some can prove challenging but persevere and work with the Tutor if you’re not happy with the progress you’re making.

“I have continued to write since completing the course, and have now finished the third draft of my first novel. It features Barclay and MacDonald, the two characters I created on The Writers’ Academy course. I’m planning to self-publish this summer, and then submit it to literary agents.”

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