Thursday, February 7, 2013

Teach a Class

I've said a lot about taking classes in writing, but, let's face it, teaching a class can help increase your writing skills as well as your teaching skills in one fell swoop.

I remember the first time I taught. My hands were shaking and my voice sounded like something surreal. I got choked up several times, and not because my words were, shall we say 'powerful.' I think it's safe to say that it took a few times of teaching a class to calm my nerves but I also think I'm pretty normal. Most of us get scared when we have to teach in front of a crowd.

The important thing is that we are open to teaching. That's why we study up on ways to make the classroom experience more effective, and we are willing to teach even if we aren't paid at first. The most important thing is that we teach, especially if:

Photo by: tribalicious, courtesy of Flickr
  • We have just published a book or have experience in newspaper or magazine writing. Even blog writing can make you a professional, especially if you've been at it for awhile.
  • Are teaching a beginning class as an intermediate writer, or an intermediate or beginning class as an advanced writer. There is so much you can do, even if you don't feel as if you're as expert as a writer who's been at it for 25 years. What have you learned through the process of writing? What have you learned about dialogue, setting, or plot that you can pass on to writers?
  • We want to sell our books at the end of the event. Even when a teaching event doesn't pay, such as a writer's event, you can still get the word out about your books. At the beginning of your class, spend a few moments talking about your writing journey, and make sure you're a part of the book signing event at the conference.
  • Love teens or young children. When my first book, "A River of Stones" came out, I spoke at various schools and libraries. Since the book was for younger readers, my book fit right in, and most places were happy to sell my books after the class or event. I have also taught one hour writing classes in schools, where the children create their own picture book story.
  • Photo by: Bes Z, courtesy of Flickr
  • We enjoy learning from others. There is so much to learn, and a classroom setting gives students an opportunity to share their work and ask questions. In every class I have taught I have learned something valuable for my own writing.
  • We love mentoring. One on one teaching is great, and not just because you avoid the large crowds. Teaching a single student allows you to understand and appreciate what they do. It also allows you to focus in on the student's needs and give them the assistance they specifically need. You can make it your business to mentor students in your home or you can work as a reading or writing aid at a school within your local school district.
Teaching a class may not be an easy prospect, but it is rewarding. Giving yourself some time and learning the ropes, often through just doing it, will not only be an important growth experience for you but for those you teach.


  1. I just did this today...but didn't sell any books though I was able to advertise my weekend community ed. class. Still scary-notes on my blog.

  2. Teaching will always be scary, but we handle it better the more we do it. Agreed?


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