I haven’t taken a writing class since… ever. The closest I’ve come in the last few years is Candace Haven’s awesome Quick Draft workshop, which is more like the Spanish Inquisition then a learning experience (not in a bad way, swearsies). When I tell people I’m a published author (with Entangled Publishing, go team!) they almost always ask where I learned to write, I fall back on simple truths “I read a lot as a kid” and “I’ve always been a writer.”
However, I did do one of my favorite writing exercises ever in a classroom. Sixth grade. The Arts Impact Middle School in Columbus, Ohio (don’t hate me Michigan, I was only there for a few years!). My English teacher had everyone in class write down how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then she pulled out a bag of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, and a knife.
Most people had written things like “Take bread. Add peanut butter and jelly.” Some had gone as far as to add the knife. One kid had thought to open the bag. No one had thought to write the words “Open the peanut butter jar.”
When you’re writing a book, your plot and your characters are like two pieces of dry bread—essential to the sandwich—but you still need some icky, sticky, peanut butter descriptions to keep them together.
Sometimes you have to open the jar.