Becoming Certifiable

Just when I thought I’d never take another writing class, what do I do?  I sign up for two.  One in February and another in March. 

I don’t like taking online classes anymore because I don’t get a lot out of them like I used to.  And I could be wrong, but I think the calibre has gone down, too.  Then again, it could be where I’m looking (or not looking).  I don’t know. 

Anyway, I’ve signed up for Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters) taught by Alex Sokoloff.  I’ve always had a genuine interest in how screenwriting techniques transfer over to writing, so that’s why I decided to give this class a chance.  Not only that, but Alex is amazingly giving when it comes to helping writers to hone their craft.  The other class is the famous Empowering Characters’ Emotions by Margie Lawson.  Yes, this is somewhat of a repeat for me, since I took it and raved about it at M&M this past October.  But seeing as this is a month long, it’s possible that Margie might go more in-depth with this stuff, seeing as it’s a month long.  Not only that, but I’m going in with the idea that this is my refresher course for the year.

Which brings me to the topic of this blog.  Do you believe in having writer certification courses? 

Back in the day, I worked in a pathology lab where I needed my lab technician certification if I wanted to work there.  When I had worked for Oracle Corp., I had to become certified in Oracle, if I was going to train others on how to use their software, databases, etc.  Both professions required some level of proof for me to say I knew what I was talking about.  Since authors are treating their writing careers like professions, why shouldn’t we do the same?  CPAs are required to be certified.  There’s the bar exam for lawyers and a certification for phlebotomy.

Of course, there isn’t any national organization to enforce such a thing, which is fine.  But if they really wanted to help their members, then it wouldn’t hurt to have them to give a stipend for taking at least one writing class per year to maintain their membership.

So to answer my own question, I’m a huge believer in taking refresher courses.  Certification courses are another story because I don’t know what the impact would be, if any.  Would an agent or editor really care?  Again, I don’t know.  With my Oracle and lab technician certs, I saw many times where having them made the difference in landing a new job.  But until refresher courses are enforced, we have to do it on our own.  I’m cool with that.  In fact, I’m taking it upon myself to take at least two courses a year to keep my writing fresh and sharp.

Are you for or against writers becoming certified?

14 thoughts on “Becoming Certifiable

  1. I believe in taking classes so my writing will improve, but not certification. I tried looking up the screenwriting class, but the link didn’t work. I’ll google it.

    You know I’m a Margie fangirl! I was just thinking I should read one of her packets again.

  2. There we go. The links are fixed. I’m not sure what Wordpad did to it, but it froze my browser everytime I picked “Ignore all” during spellcheck . Go figure.

    Anyway, I’m with you, Edie. I think there’s nothing wrong with taking refresher courses to tune up the writing muscles. Unless certification makes an agent or an editor raise an eyebrow, what’s the point?

    I’m so on the Margie bandwagon with you. 😉 I was going to go through her packet when I came across that announcement. It might stick to my brain more if I take the class while following along in the packet.

  3. Against, I suppose! LOL! I haven’t even been “certified” in one of my professional orgs. (Too much work, too much money, and I have a degree from a top conservatory! That’s certification enough!)

    You know, I’ve studied so much how-to-write info, that one year, I just wasn’t getting any new information. And so I stopped. I read Reading Like A Writer and started studying books themselves, more.

  4. A top conservatory, Spy? *bowing down to you* Yes, girlfriend, that’s enough. 😆

    That was why I gave up online workshops. I wasn’t getting anything new that I cared to learn about. In reality, a lot of this stuff is just recycled material anyway. My best lessons have come from reading other books.

  5. I think writers should study their craft in one form or another whether it’s self study or online classes or something more formal. And they should all definitely learn the fine art of concise writing, grammar and punctuation. But certification is rather difficult in a field that is, while very much a skill, more an art. Would you certify Shakespeare or Hemingway or…? They’re all masters of the same craft we’re plying. Maybe some day one of us will be remembered in history as they are. After all Shakespeare did write about love and romance… but certified?

    BTW I took one of Marie’s classes and it was great!

  6. Excellent point, Ryshia. It’s hard to certify something that is so subjective. Certification would lump Hemmingway and Shakespeare in the same category. They’re styles and subjects are completely different from each other, so a certification would most likely take away from their greatness.

    As writers, I think it’s like any profession where we never stop learning. Whether it’s via online classes or simply studying other books, that’s how we hone our skills.

    Wasn’t Margie’s class awesome? 🙂 If she ever comes up with a new class, I am so there.

  7. That screenwriting class sounds interesting. It may come in handy as I work on my next YA porn. 😛 (joke, clearly. Please don’t send me hate mail…)

    …and I agree. Writers are certifiable, indeed.

  8. I don’t know. Some courses and books are helpful, but it’s possible to get too caught up in them to do any actual writing. I think I’ve learned the most from studying the books I love — and hate — and deciding what does/doesn’t work.

    By the way, have you looked into Blake Snyder’s work? Save the Cat is specifically for screen writers but many novelists swear by it, too. I’ve found it helpful.

  9. 😆 Tivi, you’re the best! I love it when other writers get my insane sense of humor. And if anyone sends you hate mail, you forward it to me. I’ll be more than happy to set the record as straight as a pearl necklace. (Uh…another inside joke.) 😉

    The screenwriting class is taught by our own Alexandra Sokoloff. She’s a wonderful writer. If you check out her blog, it’s filled with fantastic writing advice and tips.

  10. OMG, Caryn. I’ve been hearing so much about Save the Cat that it’s crazy. I really need to add that to my shopping/wish list that I keep on Amazon.

    And I agree with you about getting caught up. Another of our chapter mates shared a wonderful piece of advice during out RWA meeting this past Saturday. To paraphrase, she said, “Our style should be our own. We should do everything we can to tell a great story and not worry about the rules.” Here. Here. I learned more about how to write by reading books than I have from craft books. That’s probably why I don’t have that many craft books, too. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s