Are Classes Important?

I love this question. The answer is… Yno. Nes. Yes, and no.

I know what you’re thinking. Goddamnit, Tina, why can’t you ever commit?

Hear me out. For the longest time, I was a pantser. I never gave a thought to where my stories came from. I’d never heard of the Heroes Journey. I knew that mentors were people who taught you, but I thought it was like a math tutor taught you. I didn’t understand the terminology, but deep in my gut, I understood the symbolism. I told great stories. They were raw, but the bones were good. I never needed a class to express what went on in my head.

There came a point, though, when I hadn’t picked up the pen in so long, I felt like my skills had atrophied. I still could recognize a good story, but I couldn’t construct one. I had the dollars and the yen, so I went and signed up for a writer’s course. One year I took every writing class that suited my schedule. I took an editing class, a class on the Heroes Journey arc, and then I went to a conference and took a whole buffet’s worth of classes and keynote speeches. What happened was, I met people. I met writers. I met students who introduced me to the path of a writer’s group.

I met Bento Box’s editor. She wouldn’t become my editor for another four years. I had no idea at the time that I would write Bento Box. When it came time to find an editor for my novel, I chose her because she taught my editing class, and I liked her.

Classes are a way to network. I’ve met an editor for Simon and Schuster who gives Marketing classes that are top notch. What the hell do I know about Marketing? Books sell themselves, right? Right?

Classes are a way to improve skills. Let’s be fair, we’re not the best judge of our own work. Or, maybe we have a realistic view, and we know that we’re just going to have to buckle down and take a dialogue class because that’s not your strong suit. Classes tend to be worthwhile, but do yourself a favor and research your teacher. There are good ones and bad ones, just like in all things.

So, can you become a self-made millionaire never taking a class a day in your life? Sure! I’m not going to stop you. However, I’m going to suggest that it’s unlikely that this strategy is a good one. Classes fulfill a lot of different needs, and can be fulfilling. What’s important is finding the ones that work for you.