I have been facilitating a creative writing masterclass this week.
I facilitate the masterclass with my business partner, he is also a writer. We have run it together for five years.
This is how it goes: we advertise the masterclass on social media, respond to inquiries through email, register participants online, then sit with them for three days to share what we know about creative writing.
The curriculum is informed by the needs of our participants, and our personal and professional experiences as writers.
The participants are usually a rainbow of personalities, the class is a riot – we beat stories, crack lousy jokes and have at tea break more mandazis than is allowed.
It’s probably why I don’t like mandazis today. Anyway, five years of running the masterclass, here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Stay hungry, stay foolish
There are two types of learners in this world – there are self-teaching learners. This type scores the internet gathering information on what they need to learn.
They read pages upon pages of blogs, forums, storyboards, interviews of professionals in the field. They watch videos on YouTube and listen to podcasts.
They experiment with what they’ve picked up, fail, then try and try again until they get it right. Adventure and patience drives this process.
Then there are those learners who go into their pockets, and put their money on the table to hear from an expert how to do what they need to do. Think of it as walking down an already-beaten path.
No one category of learner trumps the other. Actually, the thing that separates those who ‘make it’ and those that don’t is the hunger of an individual. How hungry are you? What’s your definition of ‘staying foolish’?
2. Make extra money
Running a masterclass as a professional is a great way to make extra money on the side.
Any technical skill is a teachable skill. And there are people in this town willing to pay a pretty penny to sponge that technical skill off you. I’ve experienced this firsthand.
You can start your own masterclass from the ground up. A masterclass where people come to hear you share what you know. To learn at your feet.
Or you (as a professional) can partner with organisations already offering trainings and plug yourself in as an expert in your field.
You can be invited as a guest speaker or have some exclusive sessions you run on your own, the organisation dictates this.
Alternatively, you can put together a masterclass. You don’t facilitate it yourself, you administrate it: you register participants, build a quorum then get professionals from the industry of interest.
You assign them each individual sessions to cover the duration of the class.
3. Any skill is a teachable skill
Think of any technical and professional skill you have in your hands.
‘Technical’ here means that you went to school to learn it or you passionately taught yourself. ‘Professional’ means that it butters your bread and has done so for several years.
You can have a masterclass on anything – basic accounting, making sense of tax, starting and running a business, videography, interior decor, investing like a guru, building commercial or residential property, playing a musical instrument or a sport, blogging for money, crocheting, public speaking, co-parenting, being a single mum, personal branding, graphic design.... it’s an infinite list of ideas.
I want to polish my photography skills and I’m shopping for a masterclass to sit. Might you know of any? Rather, might you be running one?
4. Polish your public speaking skills
Couple your technical skills with public speaking skills and you’re off to the races. They count for naught when you drive your audience to yawns or have them peek at their phones two minutes into your presentation.
Sustained engagement lies in mastering the power of public speaking. It lies in your body language and stage presence: confidence, voice projection, eye contact, pausing like Barack Obama. Oh, Obama.
At his president-elect victory speech in 2008, he said, “If there [pause] is anyone out there [pause] who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible [pause], who still wonders [pause] if the dream of our founders is alive in our time [pause]; ... [pause] tonight is your answer.”
Bett Kinyatti is a certified accountant with ACCA and former financial auditor. She runs a personal finance column with Daily Nation online