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FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

 
 

Overview
Why The Writers’ Croft? What is a croft?
What do people who’ve been in The Writers’ Croft think it?
How much does a course cost?

Details
When do the next courses start?
What if I sign up and can’t do the course?
How much time will the course take?
Is everyone online at the same time?
I’m interested, but I don’t know anything about computers!

Spiritual Issues
What’s this site’s relationship to Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and What We Ache For?
Is The Writers’ Croft a spiritual course?

Personal Issues
What if I post my writing and people tear it apart?
I want to take part, but not post my writing because it’s too personal.
My spelling and grammar are awful.
Can’t I take part without commenting on other people’s writing? I just don’t have anything worth saying.
Why do I need a course? I can write on my own!
What if my writing or ideas get stolen?

Personal Mail
What’s the difference between personal mail and email?
Why would I use personal mail rather than posting a response publicly?
Is personal mail absolutely private?

Non-English Courses
Is The Writers’ Croft available in languages other than English?

Why The Writers’ Croft?
In 16th century England and Scotland, a croft was "a little [plot of land] adjoining to a dwelling-house, and enclosed for pasture or arable, or any particular use". The purpose of this program is to help you develop your personal writing for "any particular use". You know why you want to write more deeply, and The Writers’ Croft’s purpose is to achieve your goals, not mine, not a school’s, not any external authority’s.

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What do people who’ve been in The Writers’ Croft think of it?
Almost universally, they like it. The combination of both being in a warm community and being anonymous is perceived by people as being rare and powerful. Deadlines help people to start writing; supportive feedback keeps them going. If rather than my synthesis you want their own comments, click here.

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How much does a course cost?
The 11 week fall course costs $350 (US); the 13 week spring course costs $400 (US). You can pay instantly by credit card in the registration section, or you can pay by cheque. If you want to take the course, but are unable to pay the full amount, we should continue this discussion through email. If you are taking a course for a second time, the cost is $250 or $300, also payable by cheque or credit card.

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When do the next courses start?
As of July, 2016, the Croft has ended. Many thanks to all who made it so successful for 12 years.
Details of previous courses are on the first screen you see in the registration area.

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What if I sign up and can’t do the course?
That would depend why you can’t do it. If there were unresolvable computer problems (I can’t imagine what they’d be, but one never can with computers.) then you’d get a refund. If you suddenly decided you hate writing and never wanted to do it again, that would be your decision, but there would not be a refund. If your concern is that your writing isn’t deep enough compared to others, that’s not a problem. We all write from our own unique experience, and there is no one else who can tell your story.

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How much time will the course take?
An absolute minimum of three hours a week, though four hours is probably far more realistic. That would break down into half an hour reading the weekly instruction, and doing the warmup; at least an hour for your personal writing; and an hour and a half for reading other people’s writing, responding to it, and reading responses to your own writing. I would strongly suggest that the first two be done within a single block of time; while we all write in our own way, jumping up every ten minutes to do something else really won’t help.

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Is everyone online at the same time?
No. Partially that’s because of practical difficulties; people will come from different countries, time zones, and life styles and trying to negotiate a common time would be a logistical nightmare. But there are real advantages to working asynchronously (at different times) and alone. And it is difficult to get beyond the superficial in computer chat. (OMG! Dad walked in! LOL). We’re aiming way beyond that.

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I’m interested, but I don’t know anything about computers!
If you’ve gotten far enough that you’re reading this, you know everything you need to know about computers. The bulletin board software is very straightforward, runs on the same browser within which you’re reading, and doesn’t require you to install anything on your computer. Help is available both within the program, and by email if you do need it.

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What’s this site’s relationship to Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and What We Ache For?
We’re just good friends. <grin>
I have been first a student, and then a associate of Oriah’s in her writing groups and workshops, and we remain close friends. But while The Writers’ Croft shares the view of writing, creativity and spirituality eloquently explored in What We Ache For,and other books the two are independent and separate from one another.

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Is The Writers’ Croft a spiritual course?
That depends what you mean by "spiritual". There is no overt religious perspective that you have to share, nor will there be specific prayers posted that enable you to write better. But focusing your intent through ceremony before you start writing, and isolating yourself from the distractions of life (as far as is practical for you) are both methods that many people have found helpful in bringing more of themselves to their writing, as they do with any spiritual activity. It is The Writers’ Croft's belief that writing is a tool for exploring the deeper aspects of self, an area that gets labelled "spiritual" on some people's maps.

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What if I post my writing and people tear it apart?
That will not happen. Feedback on The Writers’ Croft is positive and supportive; if it isn't, my feedback to the critics is direct, immediate, and clear. And you focus the form and direction of the responses through how you ask for feedback: “What works for you in this piece?” is likely to elicit more positive feedback than “What needs to be improved?” No one will comment on any aspect of your writing that you don’t ask them to. (And if you choose to say, “Just comment on anything that strikes you,” then some people will. Fair enough, really.)

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I want to take part, but I don’t want to post my writing because it’s too personal.
I’m sorry, but participants have to post their writing. Just as you find it hard to trust others, they will find it very hard to trust you if you don’t post your own writing. You might choose to write less personal pieces till you get to know and trust the people in your writing circle. And one of the great advantages of computerized writing circles is the absolute anonymity. Your work appears under an online name you have chosen, and none of the people in your writing circle will have any way of finding out who you are, or from where in the world your writing is posted. While it is hard to write about personal and painful experiences, it is also hugely liberating, and this will be the easiest and safest way of doing it that you’ll ever find.

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My spelling and grammar are awful. Will The Writers’ Croft help me?
If you ask for feedback on those aspects of your writing, you’ll be given it. But that isn’t the primary purpose or focus of this program. If that’s where you want to work, there are many online sites that do focus on that, and they might better serve your purpose. (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/index.html is an excellent free reference grammar and punctuation site.) If you have major concerns about those issues, and whether they would block you from participating in The Writers’ Croft, just email me about it, and we’ll talk.

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Can’t I take part without commenting on other people’s writing? I just don’t have anything worth saying.
You do have something worth saying. This is just another side of the “I don’t have anything to write about” issue with which we all wrestle. You aren’t expected to give other writers an evaluation or assessment of their work from a position of an all-knowing critic. You give your own individual reaction, focussed on the area about which they asked for feedback. If the author asked how you felt about their ability to create characters, explain why you were (or weren’t) convinced by and interested in the characters, giving examples from the writing. And wouldn't it be unreasonable to expect others to comment on your writing if you’re not putting an equal energy into theirs?

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Why do I need a course? I can write on my own!
I certainly don’t know if you personally need this course, but I know from experience that many people have benefitted from it. If you’re writing as much as you want to, and you’re happy with how your writing is received, you may not need a writing community. My experience of being in writing groups for twenty years is that they help me to write by providing a time or place when I have to write, and offering me a supportive community that gives useful feedback on my writing. If you don’t need that, and not everyone does, then The Writers’ Croft probably isn’t what you’re looking for.

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What if my writing or ideas get stolen?
The writing you post is only visible to the people within your writing circle, all of whom will have agreed that no writing they see on The Writers’ Croft will be copied or sent outside of their group. Because it is posted on a computer, it is copyrighted as yours from the moment of posting, and you have proof that you wrote it. The only way to completely protect your writing is never to share it with anyone else; any time you read it out or send it to an editor or publisher you take the same chance. But not only do you have copyright protection, there is no one who can tell your story as truly and authentically as you can.

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What’s the difference between personal mail and email?
Personal mail stays within The Writers’ Croft. You receive personal mail sent to your code name only when you’re logged in. Your email address isn’t known to anyone in your writing circle, and they have no way of contacting you aside from personal mail during the three month’s course. You may choose to share your email address with someone, but that's your choice.

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Why would I use personal mail rather than posting a response publicly?
The public forums are for open discussions of writing; personal mail allows for other kinds of communication. One possible reason might be that after reading a moving piece by someone else about a painful experience you want to share an experience of your own, but you don’t want to tell it to the entire group. Or you might read about a trek on Annapurna, and just want to find out if the writer was in Nepal around the same time you were.

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Is personal mail absolutely private?
Yes. No one on the board (including me) can access personal mail.

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Is The Writers’ Croft available in languages other than English?
Regrettably, no.

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