Taking More Classes...Why?

Sunday, November 20, 2011
A parting shot:
My nametag and computer at my fifth editing class

This weekend I completed my fifth of five classes to complete the University of Chicago certification for editing. For years I have edited manuscripts and articles. Throughout the process (and especially as I was getting ramped up to take my first class in Chicago), I’ve had to explain to people why I would take the time (and money!) to complete the classes…especially since I have editing experience.

Here are a few of the reasons I sought certification, which may help you decide if you should pursue more education for your writing or editing.

1. Validation. While I learned a lot of tips and tricks from colleagues at work, there sometimes seemed to be a limit. Taking the classes helped validated my knowledge and made me more confident in my own skills, even if I’m not the strictest grammarian. It also shows prospective clients that I take editing and continuing education seriously. (And it already helped to garner a large editing client.)

2. Learning Style. I recognize that I learn better when I have someone directing my lessons. Interestingly, if I teach someone, I find that often directs my learning. But I’m not someone who can sit down and start at the beginning of the Chicago Manual of Style (or The Associated Press Stylebook) and read it straight through. Some editors I’ve met are self-taught that way. I take my hat off to them.

3. Against Procrastination. Editing is something I’ve wanted to learn for many years. Following a sequence of classes ensured that I would have fewer reasons for procrastination and more reasons for getting it done.

4. Networking…and friendships. In the classes, I joined a network of others who also veer to the “word nerd” balance. These other editors are my resources and friends I can discuss freelance projects with. We are able to discuss our classes, as well as best practices. Most of my classmates have specialized niches, which helped me narrow my own niche. Also, the camaraderie has been great. I’ll miss seeing my new friends, but will plan on keeping in touch with them.

5. Skills. My skill level has skyrocketed and made me more productive. While the tips and tricks I knew were a great starting point, I have learned a wealth of information since I started my journey in the certification.

What are some of the reasons you might use to justify “going back to school?" Instead of taking classes, what are some of the ways you keep up with your writing skills?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer and editor living in coastal North Carolina. Follow her @Eliz_Humphrey.


Allena said...

No need to justify this, Elizabeth! I've been eyeing that series at U of Chicago for a long time. The $900 per class price tag trips me up everytime but I have no doubt that certificate is worth every penny.

Sioux Roslawski said...


One, I am part of a critique group with Lynn Obermoeller, Beth M. Wood, Linda O'Connell and Tammy Goodsell. We meet every other Wednesday, and along with marvelous suggestions/advice about the pieces we share, we also have a rollicking good time.

Two, I am a member of Saturday Writers, a branch of the Missouri Writers Guild, as well as a consultant for the National Writing Project. Both of those groups result in writing marathons, writing retreats, writing groups, and so on.

Three, I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year, but am far behind, so I must leave so I can write some more.


Continuing education is a wonderful thing, whatever route you take to do it. We should never stop learning. Congrats on your success, Elizabeth.

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