What it’s like to study writing: Steph shares her story
Steph Cuthbert studied a Certificate in Professional Children’s Writing with Open Colleges and graduated in 2012. Here, she takes time out of her busy schedule to chat to us about how she found the study experience and what she’s been up to, and what she’s had published, since she completed her course.
What attracted you to study children’s writing?
I really love young adult fiction as a reader, and I wanted to study more about it as a writer. The course also seemed to cover a wide variety of writing styles, like non-fiction writing.
Can you can explain a little bit about how studying children’s writing online works?
It was great because I could fit it in around own time and schedule. At the time, I had a baby and another child in kindergarten. So, I could sort of work around their schedules.
I think what was great about working online as well was the contact with the tutor and being able to submit questions and ask for feedback or help as I was working through the course content.
In addition to them being online, I also ordered my textbooks delivered so I had a hard copy to refer to.
Were your trainers responsive to your questions?
Incredibly so. In fact, I’m still in touch with my tutor. It was fantastic, and being able to work at my own pace was, I think, something that I really needed.
What was your favourite part of the course?
Some of the assignments were incredibly challenging and really involved a lot more than I had thought. So, I guess my favourite part was how in-depth everything was. And really, I didn’t feel like I’ve paid for a course that was too easy. I really felt like I was challenged and was getting a lot out of it.
Has studying changed your life?
I really don’t think that I would have had the skills or the confidence to pursue writing without having studied with Open Colleges. My tutor at the time, Ann Harth, she’s actually my editor now. I really don’t think I would be writing if I hadn’t have taken that step.
How has your life changed since you graduated?
The course gave me a lot of confidence to pursue writing in a real way, which I hadn’t done before. And it took a little while, but I got to the point where I was writing a substantial amount and really focusing on, not just writing a novel, but living a bit more like a writer and feeling like I was actually a writer.
It gives you the skills, but also, this feeling like it’s valid. Like, you’ve worked for something. You’ve learnt it so you can go and do it.
Have you published anything since graduation?
Yes! I self-published a book last year. A young adult novel called Amulet of Hearts. And it’s the first book in a time-travel series.