Bag of Tricks (Tools of the Trade)

Catapult: The Writing Resource You Don’t Want to Overlook

Catapult offers writing classes for every writer

You know everything you need when it comes to writing, right? (If you nodded your head, sit in the corner for 5 minutes) The writing world changes CONSTANTLY. And while the basics of grammar and spelling remain constant, nothing else does. There’s always more to learn. About marketing, pitching, querying, and WRITING. So you need a go-to resource to keep your brain sharp. And one of my all-time favorites? Catapult and its award-winning classes!

Always More to Learn

Have you ever noticed shifts in the predominant topics of the books on the shelves? (Dystopia, anyone?) Spotted trends in the way people craft sentences in copy? Or recognized common themes in literary magazine pieces?

How do writers know such things?

No, they aren’t psychic. And, no, there isn’t a grand conspiracy where someone hands out a reference paper with such secrets. (Please don’t buy into the hype if you come across an ad promising to sell you one)

The common thread is writing communities. Authors get together and talk with one another. They also discuss what works for them (and what doesn’t). The pooled knowledge works as a way to learn and grow. And when they break away and move back to their individual work, the group influence remains.

The workshops are places to network, of course, but they’re also where you learn and grow your writing craft:

  • Bread Loaf
  • Clarion
  • Odyssey
  • Sewanee
  • Tin House
  • Clarion West

Or, if you’re on a budget (or unable to commit to the time), Catapult.

The Beauty of Catapult

Catapult offers the flexibility of in-person (if you’re in New York City) or online courses – all with schedules that recognize plenty of writers out there still hold down 9-5 jobs. So there’s no need to juggle weeks off from work (you know, taking up precious vacation hours).

Oh, sure, you still have the option of booking a course that’ll last a few months, but you’ll only meet once a week. That tends to work for most of us. And for a couple of hours a day? Even with familial obligations, you’re not asking for much from friends and relations.

Meanwhile, you have an enormous catalog of options to choose from:

  • Fiction
    • Characters
    • Dialogue
    • Worldbuilding
    • Plotting
  • Non-fiction
    • Essays
    • Personal essays
    • Memoirs
  • Poetry
  • Editing
  • Writing
  • Querying Agents or Publishers
  • Pitching

And everything in between. All taught by published, reputable, recognizable authors. In small, manageable classes where you get a chance to speak, ask questions, and interact. (No one likes writing courses where someone lectures you in a vacuum)

And the cost? Nothing that will break the budget (unlike those major workshops – where you also have to “audition” to earn a spot).

It checks every box a writer could hope for!

Why, Yes, I am a Catapult Student

I stumbled on the Catapult site via their magazine. On a whim, I check the “Classes” link.

And promptly found myself overwhelmed.

There was too much to scan through and choose from. But I signed up for the newsletter. (If you aren’t signed up with writing newsletters, you’re missing out on valuable information) And around Labor Day, they offered a discount on courses.

Well, no one needed to twist my arm.

I braved the list one more time before settling on a query class with Christopher Hermelin and a pitching class with Caroline Shannon Karasik.

And now, I have a binder full of notes, a polished query letter, and a perfect pitching template. (I’ve also partaken in two other courses with Caroline)

Along the lines of the workshop I attended at DragonCon, the courses provided fantastic feedback from my classmates – and teachers. Instead of only receiving a critique, though, I could discuss my work, venture opinions on corrections, and even see future potential. Precisely what my writing needed.

(And, no, I DON’T have any affiliation with Catapult or any of the teachers. So there’s no bonus to me by recommending the program!)

Every Opportunity

A writer needs to hone their craft. Otherwise, it gets stale. And people lose interest. (Sure, everyone still reads Tolkein. But would an agent pick up The Hobbit if it was submitted these days?)

The writing business changes, adapts, and turns in new directions. And unless you’re participating in communities, you won’t know what those adjustments are. That leaves you behind in the dust.

Finding courses and workshops to help your writing continue to improve are the golden ticket.

And looking for ANY opportunity that presents itself? Well, only a fool overlooks that kind of luck.

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