Around the same time as I was posting some of my writing to web forums, I was also taking a correspondence based course with The Writers Bureau.

It costs £2-300 as I recall and I wrote and submitted pieces at my own pace. When you sign up they send out a collection of A4 booklets, one for each ‘module’. These modules take you through the ins and outs of writing including finding the time, establishing routines and how to sell your work. It’s useful, practical advice that moves on to look at plotting, description, etc. The materials are very good indeed. I still refer back to them now.

During the course I wrote a lot of material; submitted an article to a magazine (it wasn’t accepted but it was pretty exciting just sending my work off for the first time!) and plotted a novel.

You are allocated a tutor who sees you through the course and critiques your work. My tutor, David was very helpful and encouraging. Grades for the pieces I submitted ranged from a ‘C’ to an ‘A++’. It was a great experience.

I confess though that I didn’t finish the course. It focuses heavily on writing for magazines with a word limit of 2000. It tries to be all encompassing, covering magazines, fiction and non-fiction as well as writing in different genres. I just wanted to do the fiction part. Once that was done, I lost interest in completing the final modules.

That aside, I would still highly recommend this course for the quality of the materials and for the fact that it got me writing. That’s half the battle. You HAVE to get into the habit of writing regularly. It also helped me look critically at my own work as I tried to improve module by module.

This course was far more structured that writing material and uploading it to forums and the critique was more useful and targeted. It also forced me to write with a specific purpose and to do so outside of my normal comfort zone and inclination.

I strongly recommend that anyone wanting to write and get published try such a course. It’s worth the investment in time and money.