Can I take the same class again and again?

There’s a quote I love:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. – Heraclitus

I love it for lots of reasons. First, it makes it seem like I’m putting my Philosophy degree to good use, something that makes my mom happy in a way that my former career as an advertising copywriter didn’t (I can connect those dots for you; just email me and ask).

Second, it’s in line with my world view, that we and everything around us is always incrementally changing, allowing something new to happen every time we open our eyes in the morning.

And third, it comes in handy when students ask about taking the same class more than once.

If you buy Heraclitus’ premise, you can take Fiction I or Writing Scripts 101 or Memoir II again and again, because you’re a different writer every time you put finger to keyboard. You’re a different writer because the river has flowed, and you’re likely in a different place in your work than you were last term or last year, making the same lecture material – even the written lectures we post in our online classes – relevant in new ways.

Add to that the fact that new novels and picture books have been published, new films and TV shows have hit the screen, big and small, the world has evolved (or devolved) giving journalists and essayists fodder for new reporting and fresh opinions. And all of that will inevitably inform your writing.

Plus, your second dance with the same class will put you in contact with a bevy of new fellow students with brand, spanking new things to say about your work, and projects of their own that will open you to their stories that just might impact yours.

One thing I do always recommend if you’re going to repeat a class is to try it with a new instructor. That way, the ‘old’ material will be filtered through a new lens, shaking things up just a bit. But even if you want to have another go with the same instructor teaching the same exact class, there is a new experience to be had (says the gal who took Screenwriting II 19x with the same instructor back in the day. No regrets.)

Sure, if you’re ready for Fiction II after taking Fiction I once or for online Memoir II-B after taking Memoir II-A, go right ahead. My aim is not to put the kibosh on that plan. But know that you not only have permission to lather-rinse-repeat, but that we (and our pal Heraclitus) see the value in that choice.

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