Answers to some Frequently Asked Questions
How much experience do I need?
Writing is a craft that anyone with the discipline and the desire can learn. Some students come in with zero creative writing experience; others have written extensively. Our teachers ensure that the course provides the right amount of challenge based on where you’re at with your writing.
What level should I start at?
We recommend most people start with a Level I course. If you already have a degree in creative writing or have taken numerous technique-focused courses, contact us and we’ll help you find the level that’s right for you.
Is there a minimum age requirement? Do you offer courses for kids and young adults?
Our core courses and most of our special offerings are for adults (18+). We do however offer private coaching for younger writers.
How much will I write each week?
Each week in Level I you'll bring in a maximum of two double-spaced A4 pages—that’s somewhere around 650 words of prose, generally less for poetry. If you want to write more, that’s fantastic, but we'll only be able to critique two pages in class. See course descriptions for details.
How much time will I need to spend?
For our Level I courses, we recommend you allocate at least 2 hours per week outside of class to work on your writing. Some students spend less and some spend more. Of course, the more time you can spend, the more you will get out of the workshop. For more details, see our courses overview.
What will I learn?
At the end of the first 8-weeks, you'll have a good grasp of how to construct a compelling narrator, what kind of narrator is going to work best for your material, and how to use tone and mood to pull readers in and keep them engaged. See our course descriptions for more detailed info.
Do I have to write poetry and fiction? What if I only want to concentrate on one or the other? Or what if I'm interested in memoir or creative nonfiction?
We teach techniques that are relevant to fiction and creative nonfiction writers and poets and we look at examples from all three forms. But if you’re a poet and you know it, you’re welcome to stick to writing poetry. Likewise, if your sole interest is fiction or creative nonfiction, by all means, stick to that. We just encourage you to keep an open mind; experimentation is a great way to spark creativity.
I will be missing a class due to vacation or work travel - is there a way to make it up?
Because life happens, and perfect attendance is rare, we set aside one night per term for missed exercises or revisions. If you do miss a class, the teacher will send you the exercise by e-mail and you can bring it to be critiqued then.
How fluent does my English need to be?
We are an international program and a number of our students are writing in English as a second language. We're always impressed by how these writers are able to make the language their own. If you are comfortable reading novels, stories or poems in English, that's a good indicator that you'll feel comfortable in the course. Not comfortable reading in English? Contact us and let's discuss if the course can meet your needs.
Will your courses help me improve my English?
Most likely yes, because you will be practising reading and writing in English. However, our courses do not cover English grammar or usage.
Are your in-person courses wheelchair accessible?
Courses that are wheelchair accessible include those that meet in the evenings at Boekhandel van Rossum in Amsterdam, except for Thursday evenings, and all courses that meet at the Koorenhuis in The Hague. Note that the bathroom at Boekhandel van Rossum is not wheelchair accessible. Courses that are not wheelchair accessible: Tuesday morning and Thursday evening courses at Boekhandel van Rossum and courses that meet at Sarphatistraat 213.
What if I’m shy about having my work critiqued?
Everybody’s a little nervous at first. But if anything, people tend to err on the side of praise starting out, so you are guaranteed to hear a lot of good things about your writing. Part of what you’ll learn in the course is how to give your fellow writers useful feedback on what’s working and what isn’t in their piece. Learning how to be a better critiquer will make you a better a writer.
Do you offer certificates?
We offer digital certificates of completion for each course. Completion is defined as roughly 75% of the course work, including exercises, critiquing and class participation.
Why do you recommend taking more than one course at each level?
Our syllabi are designed to cover the target techniques and learning objectives for each level over the course of two eight-week terms. On average most writers take three courses at each level, but everyone is different. Some writers—for example, those with more experience or a degree in literature—may be ready to move up sooner. Others may feel they benefit from up to four terms to really master the techniques and get the hang of critiquing. We take care that you don't get the same exercise twice.
How do I know when I’m ready to move to the next level?
The decision to move to the next level is made by the student in consultation with the teacher. Generally speaking, you’re ready for Level II if you’re consistently nailing the exercises and you’re able to see where your fellow writers have successfully applied the techniques being studied and give them useful feedback on what’s working and what isn’t in their exercise. You’re ready to move from Level II to Level III, when you’re able to tackle complex exercises with confidence, work on your own to turn exercises into finished pieces, and provide your fellow writers with a strong technical preamble with specific questions to guide their critique of your work.
Does an online course cover the same material? How is it different than the in-person course?
Our online courses use the same syllabus and cover the same material as the in-person courses. The differences are that the critiquing happens in writing instead of during the class and the 1-hour live session is reserved for questions and a discussion of technique. You will still get the same exercises as in the in-person course and the same opportunities to strengthen your editor's eye, which you need for revising your own work, and you'll receive around the same number of critiques each week including the ones from the teacher.
Does an online course have the same sense of community as an in-person course?
You'd be surprised—our teachers are great at helping people feel relaxed and connected in the online environment. Here's what one of our online students who's based in the US had to say, "Even though we couldn't meet in person, I felt that the class was very engaged. As in previous classes, I learned many new skills. And I really feel like with the International Writers' Collective, there is a sense of community, and being part of a writing community that is supportive and constructive really helps one develop as a writer."
What are the payment options?
We prefer you pay by bank transfer (via iDEAL within the Netherlands) but you can also pay by credit card. It is possible to pay in two instalments. Contact us for details.
What is your refund policy?
No matter how early you register, if something changes and you can’t join the course, you can let us know at least 72 hours before the first class (so we can offer your spot to someone else) and we’ll give you a complete refund. If you decide to drop out after the first class, let us know within three days, and you only pay for the first class—we'll refund the rest. And if at any point in the term your circumstances change such that it's impossible for you to complete the course (e.g. serious illness), we can offer you a credit voucher based on the number of classes remaining that you can apply to another course within a year. You can find the full details of our generous refund policy in our terms.