This blog was created when our crew completed the McDaniel College Romance Writing Certificate Program and were unwilling to stop talking about writing craft and didn’t want the relationships that we’d formed to disappear. Since then, we’ve all continued learning craft in various ways. The annual Romance Writers of America has been a consistent avenue (although it will be poorly attended by our posse this year). Several of us have continue to learn throughout the year from this by purchasing the session recordings. Graduate coursework (credit and noncredit), mini-courses, web blogs, local conferences and chapters, etc, are all learning modalities that we’ve used.
Recently, I completed an online course called “Getting Serious About Writing a Series.” Actually, I participated in it. I didn’t really complete it. All of the McD courses were online and I got so much out of them, but I found that I just didn’t get much out of the Series course. The main reason could be that there was no grade. There was no incentive for me to complete the assignments other than the personal satisfaction. But another reason was the lack of social presence I felt in that class versus the McD program (which might go back to the grade thing). In McD, the grading criteria very clearly stated that we were required to make a minimum of three substantive posts in each module/thread every week in order to get an A. It was a graduate-level program, and I was determined to get a 4.0 in the certificate program and in my masters (not that Latin honors apply to an MLA, but still). I used the certificate program as my specialization area for my MLA. Being required to post every week, and respond to those of others created a social group very like a regular classroom and that is a crucial component of on line learning (my husband wrote his dissertation on this topic, so I am probably more tuned to The Role of Social Presence in Online Communities than most). Social presence requires more give-and-take on the part of all participants, so with more given there is more to take away.
The annual RWA conference has always been a huge (and often overwhelming) learning experience for me. There is a lot of give and take there – with 2,500 romance writers gathered to learn and collaborate and network about romance writing specifically and good writing craft in general. I attended a local conference a number of years ago and it was pretty good, too. I am considering another local one in March with the hope of getting a boost of craft knowledge/understanding and motivation with a side goal of meeting more writers in Maryland so I have a close network of writers, in addition to this global network.
I’m not a member of the Maryland RWA chapter. I live an hour away from where they meet and the meetings are held at a time that isn’t convenient for the family schedule (except on rare occasions). I might be able to start making some of the meetings now that the kids are older, but it would be hit or miss until the Boy Child goes off to college in a year and a half. I’m sure it would be beneficial, though, once I can fit it into my priorities. For example, today’s meeting topic is “Seven Steps to Sensual Tension” with Christi Barth. And there are several published authors that I would love to meet and chat with: Mindy Klasky, Rebecca York, Robin Kaye, Mary Jo Putney, and others. I’m sure I would learn a lot from the presentations, the collaborative atmosphere, and the networking.
What do you use for continuing your education about the craft of writing fiction?