Creative Writing Courses Versus Writers' Groups And Writing Magazines

Posted at 18:38pm on 11th March 2010


I have enjoyed reading your articles and blogs/posts. Would really love to communicate more with you cos I think I really appreciate your train of thought. It appeals to me a lot. I am also an avid writer and have written many articles.

Can you recommend a good creative writing course for me to attend close to Plymouth, Devon. I am more than half way past writing my first novel but i think i need a professional to look at my work so far.


Mel's Comment:

Hi Yvonne,

You asked me a little while ago if I could recommend a Creative Writing course in Plymouth, Devon, and, sadly I have been unable to do so as I don’t, personally, have experience of any in the city.


Since then, however, I have spoken with members of my Writers’ Group and one of them says she thinks she may know of a Plymouth Writers’ Group - if it's still running! Writers’ Groups are usually made up of writers at various stages of development: newbies and published writers with a working knowledge and understanding of different genres. Most established authors are keen to help new novelists, in my experience, and are very good at critiquing each others work.

The good thing about Writers’ Groups is that they’re free! And, of course, you all pool your knowledge, network, and experience of writing and publishing.

Here are a couple of links. The first is a Directory of Writers' Groups in Plymouth; the second is a Plymouth Writers' Group on Facebook. I know nothing about them (so can’t recommend them) but it might be worth your while taking a look.


The other thing you might want to consider is whether to subscribe to a magazine or ezine which publishes articles specifically for aspiring authors. Writing Magazine and Writers Weekly are two that come to mind. The first is a monthly publication, a printed magazine, which costs, I believe, in the region of £44.00 sterling for 12 copies per year. This includes (I think) a copy of Writers’ News each month. However, if you don’t want to commit to an annual subscription, I know that Sainsburys – and no doubt other supermarkets and High Street newsagents – have copies on the shelf, which may be purchased individually.

Writers Weekly is an ezine – that is an electronic magazine. Subscription, to the best of my knowledge, is *FREE*; you merely subscribe by clicking the little orange RSS button (Real Simple Syndicate), or register online for e-mailed copies to be sent to you each week. It is, I’m afraid, aimed mainly at the American market, and contains a good deal of information for freelance writers. Nevertheless, you may find it helpful.


You say you have been following my articles on Creative Writing for some time now, and I’m so pleased to hear that you’ve found them helpful. One of my readers asked me to incorporate a Search facility on my website. Instead of that, I’ve put up Site Maps on the Home page and Mel’s Muse (my blog page) so that readers may find the articles they require, with ease. These are being added to all the time.

The three categories that deal with writing are titled: Article Writing & Blogging; Creative Writing; and Writing & Publishing A Book. Clicking on any of these will take you to the links for all articles in that category. Naturally, I am sub-dividing these into manageable groups as I go along.

Article Writing & Blogging, for instance, lists general blog article writing posts alphabetically, but in the series on article writing, posts are listed in chronological order. Creative Writing currently has only general articles on plotting, character, dialogue and viewpoint, but will soon have specific series added to it, such as how to structure a novel. Whilst Writing & Publishing A Book currently has sub-categories titled, general, grammar, editing, and inspirational; and another titled, manuscript mechanics (i.e. formatting), submissions, and publishing.


Being part of a Creative Writing Course gives you access not only to the tutor but also to other aspiring authors. Devon currently runs several courses, some in Plymouth and some in Exeter. I found these by doing a Google search, but your local Library or Technical College will usually have a list of all courses on offer.

At £8.00 per session they’re not exorbitantly expensive, but at £80.00 for all ten evenings, they’re not cheap either. Most offer concessions for students and senior citizens.

I would advise you to check on the credentials of the tutor before making a decision. If they have an academic accreditation but are not published writers, I would be very wary about committing your money to them. Before doing so, do read my article If You Can (Write) Do; If You Can’t, Teach. From this you will see that there are writers who are not entirely in favour of such courses.

Whatever you decided to do, I wish you well. Do please get back to me with your progress. Or perhaps someone reading this Dear Mel letter will get in touch to give us news of a wonderful Creative Writing Course or Writers’ Group they know of?

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Your Comments:

Jo Nicoletti
6th January 2017
at 4:25am
I have researched several groups in the East Devon area and there always seem to be a hitch when I find an inspiring one. Usually my fault unfortunately. Evening meetings impossible , or "no dogs" policy which is often set by the meeting hall management. My small companion is a P.A.T dog so has passed his own exams with flying colours.
The answer might be to set up a small group of my own . I've had eight years previous experience leading a most interesting group of writers in France and gained much experience from my fellow members. It is still up and running under its new leader.
I am based in Honiton centre and could accommodate up to six (eight at a stretch) writers in my own home if anyone is interested.
Over to you!
1st August 2017
at 8:40am
Jo, you may be interested in the group we are trying to set up. We will be meeting on Saturdays in a pub in the centre of Honiton (I think your dog would be allowed). We are trying to be a social rather than a critiquing group but all writers of all levels are welcome.

Come to our Facebook group to get to know us and find out more about the meetings

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