Developing Writing Skills

Many students ask how they can develop their creative writing skills in preparation for applying to take the upper division creative writing courses needed to satisfy the Creative Writing Minor requirements. Space in these courses is limited and, in most cases, writing samples must be submitted as part of the application process. Thus, the student applying for these courses must have some previous experience with creative writing. This experience can be gained in a number of ways:

Taking lower division writing courses on campus.

While lower division writing courses do not satisfy the Creative Writing Minor course requirements, they are a good way to develop your creative writing skills. For example, the English Department offers 43A: Introduction to the Writing of Short Fiction and 43B: Introduction to the Writing of Verse. Other departments on campus, specifically the ones offering upper division writing courses that are approved for the Creative Writing Minor, may offer lower division introductory writing classes. Check the Schedule of Classes each semester for such classes and contact the departments directly for more information.

Getting involved in publications.

A variety of newspapers, journals, etc on campus give students an opportunity to develop their creative writing skills. You can also look beyond the campus for ways to participate in community publications.

Taking creative writing courses at other schools.

Many universities in the Bay Area offer lower and upper division creative writing courses. San Francisco State University; University of California, Davis; Mills College; and California State University, Hayward are just a few to consider. Community colleges in the area may also offer lower division creative writing courses. While lower division creative writing courses do not satisfy the Creative Writing Minor course requirements, they are a good way to develop your creative writing skills. If you take an upper division creative writing course at another school, it may be possible, subject to the Creative Writing Minor Faculty Advisor's approval, for it to satisfy one of your creative writing course requirements for the Creative Writing Minor. Contact the Creative Writing Minor Student Academic Advisor at demir@berkeley.edu or 510-642-2363 for more information.

Taking noncredit creative writing courses and workshops.

University of California Extension and various campus and community sources offer creative writing courses and workshops, which may be taken for professional or personal growth without receiving academic credit. While these courses and workshops do not satisfy the Creative Writing Minor requirements or other degree requirements, they provide great opportunities to develop your creative writing skills.

Participating in writing groups.

Both on- and off-campus, you can find groups who meet to discuss writing and writers and to critique each others' work. Through courses, publications and just asking around, you can find the group for you. Checking out the books on writing in your local bookstores and libraries. Reading books on writing can be helpful in developing your creative writing skills. They can provide you with general guidelines on writing and exercises to practice your writing.