The Writing Cooperative
Apr 4, 2019
What’s It Like to Take a Creative Writing Class?
There are two main benefits of formal creative writing education..
To me, there are two main benefits of formal creative writing education.
The first: getting guidance and critique from an established professional, professors’ feedback is extremely valuable.
The second: getting a variety of feedback from your peers.
If you want to write professionally, you need to learn the backbone skills of good writing, but you also need to hear a variety of opinions.
Taking a creative writing class can be hugely helpful; I’ve taken a good number of them and I’ve never regretted it.
Workshop feedback helps you improve in a very direct way.
Having other eyes on your work is vital to see where you need to improve. People will notice things that you’ll never see on your own. It will improve your writing, there’s no doubt about it.
Even if you put your work aside for a while, which is always a good practice, there are some flaws you’ll just never notice until someone else points it out.
Prior to taking workshop classes, there was a huge element missing from my writing and I had no idea.
From reading a great deal of classical literature, I didn’t have a lot of patience for lengthy descriptions of scenes and settings. It just wasn’t something that personally interested me. Subsequently, when I did describe things in my writing, I did it at the absolute minimum in the name of keeping my pacing quick and interesting.
In theory, that sounds like a good idea.
However, more than a quarter of the people in my class picked up on the fact that I barely described the setting at all. This turned out to be horrendously problematic because I was writing historical fiction. This was a wakeup call for me that I needed to really work on building the setting in my writing while still finding ways to balance that out with keeping up the story’s pace.
Your situation may not be as extreme as mine was, but it’s still invaluable to get feedback on the things we can improve in our work, both large and small.
When tackling the question of if creative writing classes are worth it, Writer’s Cookbook echoes the notion that you can take any level of writing workshop — at a university, a library — will help you get feedback and improve.
The experience of workshopping prepares you for the professional world.
I know we’re talking about creative writing, but there’s a very good chance you’re going to have to do some writing or editing of the non-creative variety in the future.
There are ways to survive professional writing and editing , but a lot of it comes down to being experienced with having your work ripped apart.
It sounds harsh, but if you’re out there and functioning on a professional level, it’s an expectation that you’ll be able to take harsh critique without batting an eye.
There’ll never be an easier time to meet other writers.
I do love connecting with other writers on social media and it’s a great tool for networking, but trust me, if you want more creative writer friends, college is the best time to get them.
You’re all going to be in that room together for quite a few weeks in a traditional creative writing workshop class. You’re going to be giving feedback on each other’s stories.
The simple act of workshopping usually sparks a lot of conversations, for writers’ personal lives often bleed into their creative work in subtle ways.
At any rate, it’s really easy to strike up a conversation with your fellow writers, since you’ve already read their work.
Most of the creative writing workshops I’ve been in will have the desks arranged in a circle so that people can make eye contact and see each other during a critique. You’ll see your fellow students much more than you do in a class with the typical desk orientation that puts all eyes at the front of the room.
Sure, when you’re older and working full time, you can afford to go to your nearest city to attend open mic events, networking events, and so on. Unfortunately…by the time you can easily afford those things, you’re probably going to be too darn tired from work to really go with the kind of frequency you need to make a lot of friends.
It’s good to have a tribe.
It gives you the chance to learn from a true professional.
I do always encourage students to see if they can find reviews of the professor they’re thinking about taking, since whether it’s an undergraduate or a graduate creative writing class, it’s still going to be an investment. If you’re debating between a few different professors, do a little research on each faculty member and see whose experience and writing relate more to what you also want to do. If you have more in common and it sounds like they teach in a learning style that’ll be palatable to you, they’ll make an even better mentor.
Nevertheless, getting to know your creative writing professor a little bit through conversations before and after class can be a great way to forge a connection with another writer who most likely has some sizable publishing experience.
They can give you advice based on their firsthand experiences, both as a creative writer and as a writer in the industry.
Plus, you can ask questions and get answers in class.
Sure, you can also ask Google questions, but you often must comb through the results to make sure the answer you’re getting is truthful and factual. Independent research is all well and good, I always recommend doing it, but getting some of your questions answered by an experienced person is valuable.
If you take a creative writing workshop, you want to get as much out of it as you possibly can.
Any kind of formal workshop class is going to cost money; it’s an investment, so make sure you’re working that investment.
Talk to your classmates, make friends, forge connections, and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions or speak with your professor outside of class. If you really want to learn as much as you can, try to set up an appointment with your professor during their office hours to dig even deeper into the course material.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your professor. Most of the time, they’ll be quite pleased to see your eagerness and commitment.
There are always some faculty members who have an overwhelming course load and won’t be quite as friendly about this kind of thing, but I’m actually very fortunate to say that I’ve never run into this problem with creative writing faculty.
I have seen it happen with faculty from other departments, but this is another reason why checking professor ratings is always a good idea. You can often get a good feeling for a professor’s personality and make sure you get someone who will nurture your eagerness to learn.
Creative writing classes push you to experiment outside of your comfort zone.
As writers, we can be creatures of habit. If your thing is fiction writing, you might not write a lot of poetry. It’s great to have a specialty, but there’s also value in working outside of your comfort zone.
Plus, a staple of intro creative writing classes and fiction workshops will be writing short stories. They’re a lot harder than longer pieces, so if you aren’t writing short stories often, most authors will tell you that you should be.
“I would also suggest that any aspiring writer begin with short stories. These days, I meet far too many young writers who try to start off with a novel right off, or a trilogy, or even a nine-book series. That’s like starting in at rock climbing by tackling Mt. Everest. Short stories help you learn your craft.” – George R.R. Martin
Needing to complete assignments for classes will get you to finish things. If you prefer novels, taking a creative writing class will have you writing short stories. The idea may make you cringe if you’re very married to your go-to form of writing, but it’s an incredibly valuable experience.
If you’re an undergraduate, you don’t have to be an English major to enjoy these classes; even if you don’t plan to major in writing, a creative writing course can usually satisfy a reading or writing degree requirement, and it’s a great way to sharpen your writing skills.
So what is it like to take a creative writing class?
It puts structure around your writing, which can be a blessing, but a stressful one if you’re used to writing off the cuff and without a lot of planning.
It’s all part of the virtue and bane of writing constantly . Sometimes, you need an external force to push your pen into action. A creative writing class will undoubtedly do that.
However, out of all the courses I took while working on my BA, my creative writing classes were my absolute favorite. I felt like I benefited so much from writing workshops, I took several non-credit workshops at Johns Hopkins University, since I didn’t want to feel like I was stagnating.
I want to keep learning and improving; receiving constructive criticism from fellow writers is massively helpful in that pursuit. Ultimately, the experience of taking a creative writing class is fantastic. It can absolutely be hard sometimes, especially when you’re bearing your words before a large group. However, it’s incredibly helpful to your development as a writer.
I’ll never regret my creative writing classes. In fact, I plan to take quite a few more.
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Brooklyn-based writer and poet. Designer in NYC. Drinks books and loves coffee. Has an MS from NYU in Integrated Design & Media. Working on an MFA in Fiction.
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3. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Promise a Great Experience
The best online creative writing courses prioritize one thing: YOU! Your learning, your goals, and your writing should be at the center of your experience. And, your course should guarantee that experience.
The best online creative writing courses prioritize your learning, your goals, and your writing.
Creative writing classes can be a risk, since they probably won’t confer university credit and you probably haven’t interacted with that instructor before. You want to be confident that your learning is guaranteed, otherwise you’ll only waste your time, money, and creativity.
Before you enroll in an online writing course, look to see if the program administrators have a student promise . Your experience in the course should be the number one priority of the instructor and administrators; otherwise, you’re better off looking elsewhere for the best online creative writing courses.
4. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Offer Constructive Feedback
In addition to useful lectures and assignments, creative writing courses give you access to helpful, instructional feedback. Most instructors hold Masters or Doctoral degrees in English or creative writing and, as a result, they have ample knowledge of what works in literature, as well as tons of experience in giving feedback.
Creative writing courses give you access to helpful, instructional feedback.
In the best online creative writing classes, an instructor will both inspire you to write and guide you towards being a better writer. Their feedback will cover the many aspects of great writing. For example, your instructor might comment on:
- Unclear language
- Ideas that need to be expanded
- Sentences that are too wordy or passive
- Opportunities to use more engaging vocabulary
- Places to improve writing structure
- Grammar and spelling corrections
Finally, an instructor will tell you what you are already doing well in your writing. When you write a really great metaphor , use interesting word choice, or find a moment of great insight, your instructor will tell you—highlighting the creative writing skills you have already mastered.
5. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Focus on Craft
You might be wondering how creative writing classes are different from high school English. The big difference is that, where a typical English class focuses on basic grammar and literacy skills, creative writing classes focus specifically on craft.
Creative writing classes focus specifically on craft: the elements of language and storytelling that make a work of prose or poetry successful.
What is creative writing craft? Craft involves the elements of language and storytelling that make a work of prose or poetry successful. Focusing on craft is how creative writing classes primarily improve your writing.
Your writing class might focus on the structure of a short story, the different types of literary devices , the importance of effective word choice , or the elements of storytelling . A writing class should break down successful works of literature into the components that make it work, giving you the tools to practice your own creative writing skills.
Additionally, craft-focused writing helps you with everyday writing. From improving your vocabulary to structuring an email, the creative writing practice translates to improved writing in every aspect of your life.
6. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Respect Your Creative Autonomy
One of the benefits of creative writing classes is the perspective you get from different writers. No two writers are working on the same projects, and in your course, you’re likely to work with students of different genres and writing styles.
your creative authority should be respected no matter how new you are to creative writing.
With so many different writing philosophies in one class, the new ideas you encounter can help strengthen your own writing. But in the worst-case scenario, a student or instructor might try to force their writing philosophy onto you. This is always unfair, as there is no one-size-fits-all writing advice, your creative authority should be respected no matter how new you are to creative writing .
For example, let’s say you’re writing a poem about your childhood cat, and the instructor thinks it should be a poem about your experiences growing up. No matter how many times you explain you want this poem to be about your cat, the instructor keeps telling you to write more about your childhood. By ignoring your goals for the poem, the instructor is not respecting your creative autonomy, because they think they know your writing needs better than you do.
No matter where you are in your writing journey, you are a writer, and you deserve respect and compassion as such. Every writer is on a constant journey of growth and discovery; your instructor and course should acknowledge and respect that. In your course, you will encounter many different ideas, but you should also encounter the freedom to accept or reject those ideas. It’s your writing: you get the final say!
7. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Foster a Writing Community
A creative writing course fosters a creative writing community . This community gives you the motivation to create, as it creates a safe environment to experiment, take risks, and grow in your writing practice.
A writing community gives you the motivation to create, as it creates a safe environment to experiment, take risks, and grow in your writing practice.
For even the most solitary of writers, writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Participating in a community of word enthusiasts can jog your creativity and give you useful feedback on your work. Additionally, the feedback you provide other writers in the community also helps you learn. It’s a self-fulfilling, self-sustaining process, where members of a writing group can continuously grow, improve, and fine-tune their love of the craft.
In fact, well-known authors throughout history have been a part of valuable writing communities, such as The Beat Poets, Stratford-on-Odeon, and other famous writing groups .
When you enroll in creative writing classes, you also take part in a writing community. Foster relationships, make new writing friends, and forge your own writing group—it may one day be famous, too!
8. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Motivate You to Write
Writing is a skill that you can only develop through practice. For anyone just starting on our writing journeys, the best online creative writing classes keep you motivated and accountable.
The best online creative writing classes keep you motivated and accountable.
Every instructor works differently, but you can expect the following in a creative writing class:
- Creative writing prompts
- Daily journaling assignments
- Helpful revisions
- Inspirational readings
- Ideas to combat writer’s block
- Different opinions on how to write creatively
Some courses are even designed to motivate you, such as our course Write Your Novel! The Workshop With Jack . Sometimes, the biggest struggle is simply to begin, and creative writing courses help you do that.
9. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Jumpstart a Writing Habit
The best online creative writing courses will get you into a writing habit. By combining lectures with thought-provoking assignments, one of the primary goals of a writing course is simply to get you writing.
You’ll gain the most from your creative writing courses if you block out the time to write every day.
To make the most of your creative writing classes, try to find time to write every day. It’s best to write at the same time every day, but if your schedule doesn’t allow this, sneak time where you can.
Here are some ways you can steal time as a writer:
- Journal for 15 minutes before you go to bed.
- Write while you wake up with your morning breakfast or coffee.
- Keep a journal on your phone during work and lunch breaks.
- Write on your commute to and from work. If you’re driving, consider keeping an audio journal, where you write by speaking into your phone’s recording device.
- Write on your phone while running on the treadmill.
- Put pen to paper while taking a bath.
These ideas won’t work for everyone, and it all depends on your schedule and lifestyle. Nonetheless, you’ll gain the most from your creative writing courses if you block out the time to write every day, no matter how brief that time is. And, your course should help you find the time to write!
10. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Broaden Your Literary Horizons
You need to read great writing to produce great writing. The best online creative writing courses will introduce you to great literature, giving you additional opportunities to explore the writing craft.
The best online creative writing courses will introduce you to great literature, giving you additional opportunities to explore the writing craft.
In creative writing classes, you might read both classic and contemporary literature. As writers, it’s good to have knowledge of both worlds. Classic literature introduces you to the bedrock of modern writing, including the devices and rhetorical strategies that make for effective poetry and prose.
Contemporary literature, on the other hand, gives you a glimpse into today’s literary zeitgeist. It’s important to understand today’s publishing landscape and the type of work that’s being published, even if you don’t intend to write like contemporary authors.
In fact, it’s better if you don’t try to write like anyone else! Reading other writers shows you what works in literature and what doesn’t, giving you opportunities to experiment with form and style. But, at the end of the day, your writing is for you, not for publishers or particular writing schools.
Use your creative writing classes as opportunities to explore literature, experiment with words, and discover what you’d like to write yourself.
11. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Offer a Healthy Creative Outlet
Creative writing classes offer a healthy outlet for your creativity and emotions.
A healthy writing space can supplement your emotional health and wellbeing.
How is that so? With a space to put thoughts to paper, many writers inevitably reach breakthroughs about their own feelings and experiences. This is true regardless of whether you write poetry, fiction, plays, articles, or creative nonfiction.
Now, even the best online creative writing courses can’t replace the benefits of therapy. But, a healthy writing space can certainly supplement your emotional health and wellbeing. Between the prompts, community, and writing habits that a creative writing class fosters, you’re sure to come away from your course with renewed emotional health.
12. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Give You Next Steps
Your education doesn’t end at the end of your course. If anything, the best online creative writing courses are only the beginning of your writing journey!
The best online creative writing courses are only the beginning of your writing journey!
The best online creative writing courses give you opportunities for continuous growth. Those opportunities can take many forms, such as: a list of literary journals to submit to, further readings on a topic of interest, future creative writing classes, or even simply the instructor’s email.
If you’re ready to move on to the next level of your career, your instructor should provide you with next steps. And if you crave more learning, ask the instructor!
How to Make the Most of Online Creative Writing Courses
A creative writing course is much like life: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Being an active participant will teach you as much about creative writing as the instructor will, because engaging with language is how you grow as a writer. Actively working with suggestions and ideas, keeping a daily writing practice, and offering other students constructive feedback will all boost your creative writing skills.
A creative writing course is much like life: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
Additionally, do your research before you enroll in the course, or you might end up taking a class that isn’t suited to your needs. Look up the instructor for the course, their teaching style and previous publications, and how much experience they have as a writing coach. If they don’t seem well suited towards your learning style, they might develop your creative writing skills, and they won’t be worth the cost.
Find the Best Online Creative Writing Courses at Writers.com!
Are you looking for a writing community? Are you ready to get writing? Check out some of the upcoming courses at Writers.com , the oldest creative writing school on the internet.
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May 2, 2017
What To Expect In A Creative Writing Class
I have taught a lot of creative writing classes. I have taught them to undergraduates, to graduates, to high school students, to hobbyists, and to published writers. Some of my students have fallen completely off the map once class ended, and others now have books in print.
Almost all of these classes have one thing in common: many students don’t know what to expect. Of course any class, especially an advanced class, has veterans, and those students are extremely helpful to any professor in establishing a workshop atmosphere, but there are inevitably plenty of students who don’t quite know what they’re getting into. Many of them think they know, but they don’t. And that’s fine, I certainly don’t mean to criticize people who don’t know what they’re doing before they do it — that would be ridiculous. Instead, I’m starting a bit of a list of things students can expect in creative writing class, at least based on my experiences both as a student and a teacher. I might use a version of this on my syllabus in the future.
- You’re not as good as you think you are. This could sound really condescending, and I understand that, but any experienced writer will tell you that the first thing you have to do is get over yourself. It isn’t that you’re talentless, it’s just that your talents haven’t been developed yet. You are probably the best writer you know before you step into that room, but once you do step into that room you may very well be the worst. This does not mean you are a bad writer, it just means that you have arrived in a new environment where everyone is, in the scope of the world, good at writing. So, expect your ego to be taken down a notch in your class. Not because everyone else will be harshly critical of you, in fact probably the opposite will be the case. But because you are going to realize just how far you have to go, as do we all at some point.
- We’re not going over the basics. If you walk into a creative writing class, even an introductory one, and you don’t know what comma splices are, or how to properly indent your paragraphs, or to put a title on your story or essay or poem, then stop and don’t come back until you do. Discussions of fundamental grammar take away from discussions about craft, and any good class should be focused on the latter.
- You will have your feelings hurt. Not because anyone is trying to do this, but because we pour so much of ourselves into our writing and feel very strongly about it. Criticism is tough to take sometimes, and taking it can be a learned skill. You might naturally have skin like old leather, but if you don’t you’re going to build it up very quickly or quit.
- Writing doesn’t come naturally. Sure, anyone who takes the step of enrolling in a creative writing class probably has a natural sensitivity to language. But that doesn’t make you a good writer. The process of becoming a good writer and producing good writing is often counterintuitive. The muse plays far less of a role than discipline and grinding out words day after day. It is not a romantic process, and very few writers I know think it is fun. But we still choose to do it, and there is something about that.
5. You need to buy in. I don’t say this because I think I know everything about writing. I absolutely do not. But I know a lot, and I know that the most successful students I have had have all said that their success came largely because they bought into the course. The students who resisted, who thought they knew better — well, I haven’t heard from them, or any word that they’ve achieved their goals. Whomever your teacher is, at least for the duration of the course, buy in to what they say. Later experience may show that they were wrong, after all there are bad teachers in the world. But most of us have something to give, and part of the student’s job is to actively receive it. I certainly wish that I had been more open through my undergraduate and graduate days. I looked back on much of what my teachers said and realized that they were right, but only after the fact. Which brings me back to the beginning: I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.
Probably I’ll add more to this as I go along, but if you’re going to take a summer class and dip into the creative writing world, or you’re a student and have registered for a creative writing class this fall, it’s important to know what you’re in for.
More from Joshua Isard
Author of Conquistador of the Useless, a novel. Director of Arcadia’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. Shooting the wall.
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13 Things To Know Before You Take Your First Creative Writing Class
I was lucky enough to take my first creative writing class in high school, and I was instantly hooked. I went on to take classes in college, and then even after I graduated. So, if you're about to start your first creative writing class, I am so excited for you.
But, what is creative writing class, anyway? How does that even work? When I took my first class, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Creative writing is not taught like your typical school subject, but it's not a complete blow-off elective either. And of course, every teacher does things in their own way.
I also didn't realize until I took one how amazingly valuable a creative writing class can be. I used to think that writing was purely a solo activity. You sat at your desk and put some words down on paper, and that was that. But the truth is that writing classes are great ways to build a community, learn some tricks of the trade, and produce new work. No matter how you're embarking on your creative writing journey, there are some things that you can expect to find in any creative writing class you take:
Other people are going to be reading your work.
Most creative writing classes are based on the roundtable system, in which your fellow students will read your work and provide commentary. Wait, don't freak out! It can be really daunting to share your work with others, especially for the first time, but you may come to love the roundtable. Most people will be super respectful of your efforts, and it's helpful to be able to test ideas out on different readers. Plus, sometimes the hardest part of being a writer is recognizing what is working, and you'll be amazed to learn which parts of your writing your peers love. Trust me, I always leave a round table feeling inspired and empowered.
You will have deadlines.
Deadlines can be both a blessing and a curse. For me, having a deadline helps me get the work done. But, I acknowledge, they can be stressful.
You will have to write new material.
I think some people expect that they can just coast through on writing they've already done, or that they can just work on one short story and submit revisions of it again and again. There may be some classes where that's okay, but even so, one of the most fulfilling parts of creative writing classes is challenging yourself to write something new, and to keep writing.
You will probably have reading assignments.
This was a huge surprise to me when I first started taking creative writing classes. One of the best ways to get better at writing is to read, and many creative writing teachers will give you reading assignments.
Creative writing class is a great place to step out of your comfort zone.
Try writing in a new genre! Try writing a screenplay or a poem or a novel! I like to think of creative writing class as the writer's version of a science lab, where you can experiment on anything you want and see how it turns out. You're going to be delightfully surprised by what you're able to do.
You might get prompts, and you might not.
Most of my creative writing teachers have been super lenient with writing assignments. In my experience, teachers have left the decision up to me, which can be both freeing and intimidating. So before you start class, it might be a good idea to the think about what you want to write. (But also remember, it's always okay to ask your teacher for help if you're stumped!)
On the flip side, sometimes teachers do throw in a prompt or two, and it's easy to feel boxed in. In that case, think of the prompt as a challenge, and try to stretch the box in whatever way you can. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to stick to the prompt exactly. Just try to have fun!
You don't need any previous writing experience.
There are going to be some people in your class who have been writing since they emerged from the womb, and some people who haven't written anything in their life. Wherever you're at is where you're supposed to be. (Though, of course, more advanced classes will have prerequisites.)
You will make some of your best friends in creative writing class.
Creative writing classes are amazing communities. The work of writing is usually a solitary an difficult one, so it feels amazing to connect with other people who are going through the same process. Plus, sharing your work will give you a super tight bond.
You're going to read some stuff you don't like, and that's okay.
You'll find a huge variety in the writers taking class with you. Every writer has different tastes, different styles, and different skill-levels. Not everything you read is going to be right for you as a reader, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Remember, even if it's not your usual cup of tea, have an open mind and be respectful. Concentrate on the craft of the piece and giving constructive criticism. And always find something positive to say.
Not everything you submit has to be perfect.
Of course, put your best foot forward and work hard on the pieces you submit to class. But you'll save yourself a lot of heartache if you keep in mind that each piece you submit is just a draft , not the final version. The point is to find things about it to improve! There's really no such thing as a "mistake."
You don't have to be a professional writer to get a lot out of creative writing class.
My high school creative writing teacher used to have us start and end each semester by filling out a self-evaluation. One of the questions was what our commitment-level was, ranging from "Hobby" to "Passion." You don't have to be at the passion level to enjoy a creative writing class. In my opinion, creative writing classes are great no matter your level of experience.
But you'll only get as much out of it as you put into it.
The point of creative writing class is not to get a good grade. Your own sense of fulfillment is contingent upon the time and care you put into your assignments, class discussion, and review of your peers' work.
Don't forget to have fun!
One of the classic traps is to take writing too seriously. Don't lose sight of how freakin' fun it is to be creative.
What is Creative Writing? | An Introduction for Students
But what exactly is it all about? And if you’re new to the subject, how can you get started?
Creative writing is all about using your imagination and creativity to express ideas and thoughts in a way which is personal to you. Quite simply, it’s about adding your own ‘flair’ to writing, going beyond the traditional boundaries of academic or other technical forms of literature.
Learn more about what creative writing is, what the different types are, as well as some top tips on how to get started - all with this helpful guide and introduction to creative writing.
What is creative writing?
As the name suggests, creative writing is a form of writing that goes beyond the traditional realms of normal, professional, academic or technical forms of writing.
Instead, it encompasses a number of different genres and styles across a whole range of fields of both fictional and non-fiction writing; storytelling, playwriting, poetry, prose, journalistic, and more.
Though the definition can be quite vague, creative writing can, for the most part, be considered as any type of writing that is original and expressive of oneself. Typically, it can be identified by an emphasis on narrative craft, focusing on elements such as character development, narrative and plot, infusing its structure with imagination, invention and story.
In this sense, creative writing can technically be considered any writing of contemporary, original composition - it's bound by no standard conventions and uses a whole range of elements in its craft.
In an academic setting, creative writing is typically divided into fiction, poetry, or scriptwriting classes, with a focus on writing in an original style, not defined by pre-existing structures and genres.
What are the different types of creative writing?
Creative writing comes in many forms, encompassing a number of genres and styles. There are lots of different types of creative writing, which can be categorised as fiction or non-fiction. Some of the most popular being:
- Fiction: novels, novellas, short stories, etc.
- Poetry and spoken word
- Personal essays
What makes a good piece of creative writing?
First and foremost, it’s important to note that there is no pre-defined description of what it means to create a ‘good’ piece of creative writing. As the very name suggests, creative writing is an imaginative process, created by the individual with all their quirks and personalities.
Creative writing doesn’t fit one set genre and therefore there will never be an umbrella definition to describe the ‘perfect’ piece. Just think about a Gothic short story and then compare it to the features of a great Romantic poem - the two are so very different - it wouldn’t be unfair to judge them together.
However, with that being said, there are a few general principles that you can follow to make your creative writing as strong as it can be - by making it as authentic and true to you as possible:
Know your audience - All great stories begin with a target audience in mind - because it’s exactly what you need to know in order to really tailor your writing and connect with them. Therefore, any creative writer should begin their writing by plotting out exactly who they want to read their work. Once you have this in mind, your writing will naturally begin to take direction and flow in a way that seems appropriate to your audience.
Write what you know - Quite often, the best stories are those which we can connect to and relate in one or another way to our own lives. Or, they’re stories which seem so authentic that you could imagine it to be about the writer’s own life. Now, this doesn’t mean that you quite literally have to write about your life, but drawing on knowledge you have about different elements of our lives to give your story some authenticity and more believability.
Creativity is key - Creativity is one of the most important elements of creative writing. It’s what sets you apart from other pieces of writing in your genre. Of course, this doesn't demand that you write a tale about a totally fantastical and mythical world with unique creatures - but simply use your creativity to think a little outside the box and put a unique twist on things; using literary devices like metaphors, alliteration, and varied sentence structure to make your work unique and interesting.
Push your imagination - One of the great things about creative writing is that there is no definition or rules on ‘how’ to write. It’s a much more subjective genre, and one which relies heavily on your own interpretations. Therefore, you should push your imagination to the limits to see what the end result could be. Some of the most interesting pieces of literature are thought-provoking or make us question the writing or world around us - where could your story take us?
Plot a loose story arc - Despite the loose bounds of creative writing, it is still advisable to plot a loose story arc for any piece of literature you create. Story arcs are critical at giving your writing direction and purpose, helping you to write the whole piece at a good pace, without writing any superfluous content or ‘waffle.’ Follow your story arc, and your writing will have a strong structure, pace and direction - keeping your readers more engaged.
What are some techniques used in creative writing?
To make their writing stand out, writers often employ several creative writing techniques and literary devices, including:
Character development - The process of creating a well-rounded, realistic character with depth, personality, and clear goals or motivations.
Plot development - The story of your piece of writing - how it develops, unfolds, and moves along in time.
**Point of view **- The perspective from which a narrative is told. It indicates who is telling the story and how the information is conveyed to the reader. Quite often writers will play with the point of view of the central character or protagonist to trick the reader and twist their perspective.
Dialogue - Refers to the speech and conversations characters use to speak to one another. Dialogue and the language choices a character makes can be pivotal in helping define their personality.
Literary devices - Such as metaphors, similes and alliteration to make creative writing more imaginative and descriptive. These are used in a myriad of ways by writers to make their writing more vivid, interesting and engaging.
Can creative writing be taught?
Of course! Creative writing can be taught, and is a very popular subject for university students, and for those who attend our summer courses .
Those who pursue the subject of Creative Writing will typically study a variety of texts from different periods of time to learn more about the different genres of writing within the field. They’ll become familiar with some of the leading creative writers from generations past to present, as well as some lesser-known and emerging writers in the industry.
Inspired by what they’ve learnt in the classroom, it’s not uncommon for Creative Writing students to also participate in regular workshops and scratch sessions, where they bring a piece of their writing along to class and have it read by other students and the tutor. They’ll leave with constructive feedback on how to improve their writing, or recommendations of other works which they may want to read to take influence from.
How to start creative writing
If you’re interested in getting those creative juices flowing and improving your writing craft, read some of our tips below on how to start creative writing :
Read as much as you can - For creative writers, inspiration comes from a whole range of sources, but most commonly, from other writers. There’s some excellent examples of creative writing throughout history that all writers should be inspired by. Read a variety of genres by different authors to get a real feel for what type of writing you may want to do. Need some inspiration? Check out our blog: 15 Classic Books to Read
Start journaling - Starting a journal can really help to unleash your inner creativity. Getting into the habit of writing each day about literally anything that’s preoccupied you that day will help you practice the art of writing. The more regular you journal, the more you’ll build your confidence. You never know, you could even find your next great idea from something you’ve journaled about!
Attend a Creative Writing summer course - If you’re just starting out as a creative writer and looking to collaborate, share ideas with others and workshop your writing, then joining a creative writing summer school could be a great option. Our creative writing summer courses are designed to help you extend your creative writing toolkit; you’ll analyse some of the industry’s greatest writers, as well as workshop some of your own writing with your peers.
Practice using literary devices - Literary devices, such as metaphors, similes and rhyme can really help you write more vividly and create really descriptive, imaginative scenes. Practice using them regularly and you’ll soon watch your own creative writing start to flourish. Need some ideas to help you get practising? Look around your house and pick a random object. Then, practice using 5 literary devices to describe that same object - see where your creativity can take you!
Write, write, write! - When it comes to how to start creative writing, one of the biggest pieces of advice we can offer is to pick up your pen or laptop, and start writing. Whether you have a single conversation starter for a character, or a complete narrative arc, you will only begin your creative writing journey when you physically do it. Even if you have no idea on what to write - look for writing prompt inspiration from all around you. The more you practice unleashing your creativity, the easier it will be to write over longer periods of time.
Creative writing is an expressive form of literature; one which demands you to use your own creativity, imagination and story to portray a particular message, emotion, or plot. It defies the traditional bounds of other forms of writing and is completely subjective to our own preferences and experiences.
For those looking to get started with creative writing, it’s important to really immerse yourself in the world of literature, reading and writing as much as you can - and even workshopping your work where possible. Creative writing summer schools and evening classes are a great way to meet other like-minded students, share knowledge and feedback, and really upskill yourself.
Study Creative Writing in Oxford or Cambridge
Interested in joining a Creative Writing summer course? Learn tried and tested writing techniques from some of Oxford and Cambridge's greatest published tutors on our 2-week English Literature and Creative Writing summer course .
Whether you’re new to the subject or looking to advance your skill set, our programme will help develop your own writing voice and style, while learning crucial elements of structure to help your work flow. You’ll learn from our expert tutors - made up of literary critics, authors, and university lecturers - in either the historic city of Oxford or Cambridge .
It’s the most influential learning environment, with the most inspiring tutors - guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing!
Contact us to find out more or apply today to reserve your place.
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College creative writing classes?
Hey, everyone! I'll be headed off to school soon and I plan on becoming a mathematician, but my secondary interest is writing. I'd love to take as many electives in writing as possible, but I was wondering how college creative writing classes work. In such a competitive environment, id imagine that not everyone gets an A for effort. By what metric are pieces of creative writing graded? I certainly don't want to tank my GPA simply because my professor doesn't like my art, but then again, I feel that taking courses in writing is the only way I can progress.
I've been to a number of different creative writing classes at different places, and they all generally go like this:
There is one class per week. The class tends to run long, two and a half hours. For the first classes, the professor sends out an assignment for everyone to complete before going to class, usually a short story or a quick writing assignment. The assignment is discussed in class with the focus being on the techniques the writer used, how their experiences as a person influenced their writing, how it fits within the genre, etc. The rest of the first class is then used to discuss the structure of the following classes, with the focus being on workshopping. Everyone agrees to write a new short story/poem collection/play/etc that is a certain length or bring something old they want workshopped. The professor usually schedules two people per class to be workshopped-- this means those people for the week send their pieces to everyone ahead of time, and the homework for the week is everyone reads their stuff and critiques it.
Your grades are based around how much you participate in critiquing (are your comments helpful to the writer? Do you pay close attention to language, plot, character, setting, etc?), the effort you put into revising your own piece after it has been workshopped (how much did it improve? did you take into account what has been said in class?), and the participation in discussion of extra reading assignments.
It goes without saying that if your workshopped piece isn't well checked for grammar and spelling errors, is formatted incorrectly, or is late or some other basic requirement that the syllabus lists, your grade for the assignment will go down. Yes, everyone is aware that art is subjective and cannot be scored. Your professors want to see that you take the class seriously (and everyone will notice someone who doesn't participate or who can't follow directions), that you read closely, and that you take others critiques of your own work into account as you revise.
My creative writing classes in college were the most memorable classes I've ever taken. I even learned a new genre I had previously not explored as a writer, and made writing buddies who I'm still in contact with. I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun. Good luck!
This is really interesting to me because it is so different than the creative writing class I took. It was at a community college, so I'm not sure if it is much different difficulty or standard wise.
In my class (twice a week) we explored different areas of writing. We would discuss short reading we would have for each type of genre and we would have to write our own (poetry one week,non fiction the next, etc.) People would volunteer to read their for class and we would discuss it similar to what your class was. But it wasn't mandatory that you did and some people read more than others.
Grades were based on homework that we did. Essentially as long as you did some effort you passed. Discussion was a good part of the grade in order to push people into talking- but everyone in my class was pretty open and willing to talk anyway.
They're likely workshop classes. Everyone is required to write a story for the week. Then you send out copies to all the people in your workshop, everyone reads each other's work, and there are workshop days where they talk through the feedback. Usually, part of your grade is participation, part of it is doing adequate workshop notes for others, and part is improving as a writer over the course.
This was my experience as an Econ major who liked to take creative writing electives.
I however, was generally docked points because my professors usually gave grades based on how good or bad the workshop notes were when compared to the other students in the class.
An Econ major compared to classes full of English/literature majors usually ended poorly for me.
Not to discourage you OP, but as a mathematics major, I feel like you may end up in the same boat as me.
I was a creative writing major in college. You have nothing to worry about. All the professors I had only wanted improvement by the end of the semester. Many professors wanted a reflection at the end of the semester highlighting how you grew as a writer and how you changed your story based on the feedback you received. I wrote 2-3 short stories a semester for my short story classes and 2 chapters of a novel for my novel writing class. (I never took a poetry class so I can't help you there haha).
Generally you will work on your stories throughout the semester and each week 1-4 people will read their work aloud, and the class and professor will offer feedback. Some classes will have you split up into small groups for the first draft and you will meet and offer feedback. You might also read and write small pieces for each class meeting, but that depends on the professor.
Honestly you will be fine. You will be taking a lower level course first, and this will include people just taking the class to fulfill the GE requirement as well as CW majors and minors. Nearly everyone writes terrible stuff in their first class so just go into it with the intention to improve. Good luck!!
I took a creative writing class when I was attending UCSC, and it was pretty relaxed. We got plenty of assignments, but as long as you showed interest and initiative, I think everyone did well. I think that I was fortunate enough to have a professor who was more interested in teaching students to get into creative writing than grading them on their actual work, so I can't speak as to whether or not other classes might be more harshly-graded by a professor with a different agenda.
I graduated in creative writing. Most of my classes were based on progress from draft to draft. If you get good feedback and can't deliver on it, or have a bad reason why you won't, you'll not make the grade.
Do it. I studied Math/CS, but the Creative Writing courses were great. We had two: the generic one that people take for an "easy credit" and the one after that which is aimed towards serious authors.
Don't worry about the GPA. If you have a basic understanding of the way the English language works, then you'll be fine.
I would say it can be a competitive environment, but not in terms of grades (though I guess that aspect depends on the professor). For some of my CW classes, there were a few students who tended to view it as a competition with others to prove how much better their writing was. Of course, if you have a good professor, they usually step in and stop it before it goes too far. I always tried to use the sandwich technique in my critiques (+,-,+) and that worked out well.
I'd say go for it! Have fun with it! It's usually an easy A so long as you clearly put in the effort (both in the discussion and your work) and have your pieces due on time. Even that can be negotiable depending on the professor.
I have a B.A. in Creative Writing and Literature and every workshop pretty much runs as such which I've seen commented so im grazing over it:
Student A and B are assigned to write a story.
They either hand out or email their story.
The class reads, critiques (using the oreo method of something good, somwthing that needs work, something good), and then shares their ideas in class.
Student revises story MORE THAN ONCE and hands in publish-level stories as a final portfolio.
Step 4 is where the grades come in. Teachers aren't dumb. They know when youve taken coments into thought and when you've just glassed over it and changed three things. It is the effort you put into your story. Whether you major in writing or not the professor is going to be able to call you on your shit.
I came and commented largely the same thing. The only time I've seen bad grades passed out for intro level courses are when a student either doesn't turn in a major assignment, or refuses to revise because they're too into their own story.
Never forget that a good writer is an excellent reader. Spending time studying literature is just as beneficial as any creative writing class.
The first one I took had two units- a poetry unit and a fiction unit (as the base, creative writing class. You had to take it but couldn't choose one or the other).
We read other stories, critiqued them, wrote our own poems and stories and critiqued those as well. We wrote the stories piece by piece, starting with outline and working our way from there. We learned different techniques (such as in medias res) and what to try to avoid in writing. We worked on our weaknesses (such as not putting in enough detail, the flow, 10 dollar words (or whatever it's called. I'd never heard it before til I the class, to be honest).
We also did fun little activities. One was to go around campus, find someone that looked they were staying put for a while, and write about them. Make up a story. The rest of the class came up with some interesting stories, to say the least.
As a former creative writing major--intro classes are easy As for non-humanities majors. Your professor will grade not so much on your talent but your ability to revise according to workshop and professor comments. The only way you could tank your GPA is if you stubbornly refuse to change your draft before turning it in, and I'm not just talking about fixing some wording issues.
You could use MIT open course ware ( https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/find-by-department/ ). There are a plethora of different course you can take--including writing electives. Best part: it's free.
Dude, it's a creative writing class. Have fun, mind your grammar and spelling, let yourself be creative, and always ask questions if you're struggling. I loved my creative writing class, it was supportive and encouraging and a lot of fun!
I took a creative writing class in college, and it followed a pure workshop model. Everyone was given an assignment, and we wrote our drafts. Every class, we would go through three pieces and offer criticism. To prepare, we were required to read each piece beforehand and point out strengths of the writing as well as areas in need of improvement. We were graded on completing our assignments, participating in workshop and providing criticism, and a final portfolio that reflected on our progress. It was very relaxed and one of my favorite classes I ever took. However, a friend of mine took the same class with a different professor, and he was a bit stricter and had seemingly arbitrary criterion for what he considered "A" material. Your experience will depend on who teaches the class. ratemyprofessor.com saved my life in college. Use it to check out who you are taking class with before you enroll, and you should not have any problems.
Waste of time.
Everybody is answering your question but here's something you might not have thought about. Why not audit the class? Or take it pass/fail? Or hell, my university moved the deadline for dropping a class so far back that in most classes you had already taken and received back the first major exam. I'm not sure how creative writing classes work at your University but I know I was able to take 8 PE classes even though I only needed 2 for graduation. I'm sure there's a way to take the class and not tank your GPA if that's all you're worried about.
To more specifically answer your question, there may be a rubric for a creative writing class that could focus on amount, or risk taking, or attempts at trying new ideas discussed in classes. Just as likely there may be no metric at all, and as you say it could work in your favor, or not. Right you are, if you tick off the instructor, even unwittingly, or they just don't like your hair then you could get penalized. A writing instructor worth their salt will hand out A's like candy for many reasons. Ask around before taking. Also, it's not a "competitive environment" as you characterize it, again a good instructor removes this factor -- each author's development is an individual journey that is not in competition with the journey of other people in the course.
The 10 Best Online Creative Writing Classes of 2023
The stereotype of the writer starving in their garret while waiting for inspiration to strike is far from the truth for today’s authors. Writers work in many fields, and the best of them get where they are through education and practice. A good writing course will feature a knowledgeable instructor, along with the opportunity to practice the skills they are teaching. To help you determine the best one for your own needs, we’ve sifted through the top options and reviewed the 10 best online writing courses below.
- Coursera — Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University — Top Pick
- Udemy — Secret Sauce of Great Writing — Most Affordable
- MasterClass — Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television — Best for Multimedia Writing
- The Novelry — Writing for Children — Best for Children’s Literature
- Writer’s Digest University — Creative Writing 101 — Best for Beginners
- Bookfox — Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book — Best Editorial Support
- CreativeLive — Writing Your Story — Best for Memoir Writing
- Grammar Lion — A Grammar Refresher for All Writers & Editors — Best for Grammar Review
- LitReactor — Writing the Weird — Best Online Community
- Gotham Writers Workshop — Fiction Writing Level 1 — Best Supporting Materials
Our Ranking Criteria
The best online writing courses offer you the chance to take your natural writing skills and shape them into a form that will open the doors in your chosen field. Whether you want to pen tv sitcom scripts or write the next great American novel, the best online writing course for you will take you further than you would be able to go on your own, helping you develop professional-level skills that will allow you to obtain the job of your choice. We based our decisions for the best courses on the following criteria.
Basic Ranking Criteria
There’s no one factor that makes a writing course the best. Instead we looked at multiple aspects for each of 74 online classes and factored them all into our final ranking. In our first pass, we looked at basic ranking criteria:
Time to complete. Although it’s important to have the time you need to thoroughly understand what you’re learning, no one wants to spend more time in class than is necessary. Some of our chosen classes are self-paced, others take less than an hour to one year.
Prerequisites required. None of our finalists has any prerequisites, which means that anyone with a basic understanding of the English language can participate and learn. If you do have previous writing experience, all the better — but it’s not necessary.
Flexible schedule. All but two of our choices feature a flexible schedule. Your life is busy, and for most people it is difficult to have to sign into the course at a specific time. Eight of our chosen courses allow you to take the classes and do the work as you are able, at a time that’s convenient for you.
Certificate of completion. A certificate of completion is not standard for writing courses. However, if one is available, it is often a plus to add the certificate to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Advanced Ranking Criteria
Once we reviewed results for the basic ranking criteria, we looked at more advanced features which are specific to the topics of the courses. Since many of our finalists have different focuses (such as children’s literature or creative writing), we were more concerned that they each covered their topic completely, rather than covering the same things as the other courses.
- The course thoroughly covers the material needed for an understanding of the topic.
- Instructors have solid credentials in the field they are teaching.
- The course includes materials that are appropriate to someone without skills or training in that area.
- The course includes opportunities for students to practice their writing skills.
- Instructors are personable and engaging.
- Alumni of the course are equipped to write at a beginning professional level.
- Graduates of the course have landed good jobs in their field.
- The course does not require software beyond a basic writing program such as Microsoft Word.
- Goals for the course are clear from the beginning.
10 Best Online Writing Courses Courses or Bootcamps
Coursera creative writing specialization by wesleyan university.
Intelligent Award: Top Pick
Coursera’s business model is somewhat different from many online education companies. It partners with established colleges and universities to offer classes at the higher-ed level. You don’t earn college credit for many courses, but can gain valuable certificates by completing specializations. The Creative Writing specialization consists of five courses that focus on three genres: short story, narrative essay, and memoir. Within those genres, you’ll learn about crafting characters and settings, writing descriptions, and developing your style, followed by a capstone class that will result in a completed story, essay or memoir. Throughout the specialization, you’ll have access to peer readers who can critique your work and suggest improvements. The course is taught by faculty at Wesleyan University who are published authors and trained in the creative writing process.
- Price: $49/month
- Time to complete: 3-6 months
- Prerequisites required: None
- Flexible schedule: Yes
- Includes verified certificate of completion: Yes
Who should take this course? This course is best for writers wishing to jumpstart or fire up their creative projects with college-level coursework.
Udemy Secret Sauce of Great Writing
Intelligent Award: Most Affordable
One of the better-known names in the online education industry, Udemy offers both paid and free courses, and, as of April 2021, had more than 40 million students. As you might imagine, an undertaking that vast will have a broad range of quality among its products. One of the company’s many courses on writing, The Secret Sauce of Great Writing stands out. Taught by former Wall Street Journal editor Shani Raja, the class focuses on what Raja believes are the four ingredients of good writing: simplicity, clarity, elegance, and evocativeness. Understanding and using these four ingredients, Raja says, will take your writing from the mundane to the inspiring. And at this price — it’s free! — and with a minimal time commitment (the course runs less than an hour), it is a great way to give your writing a boost and possibly learn some techniques that can enhance your output, whether you’re writing press releases or your autobiography.
- Price: Free
- Time to complete: 41 minutes
- Includes verified certificate of completion: No
Who should take this course? Anyone looking for a short, inspirational course at no cost.
MasterClass Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television
Intelligent Award: Best for Multimedia Writing
Our top pick from MasterClass is Shonda Rhimes MasterClass on writing for television, although there are a number of excellent options for writers, including courses taught by Neil Gaiman, David Sedaris, and Joyce Carol Oates. Rhimes packs a lot into her 30 lessons, including how to create a compelling character, script structure, and writing authentic dialogue. But she also takes it beyond writing instruction, discussing editing, breaking into the industry, and showrunning, among other TV-centric topics. Your annual membership to MasterClass also gives you access to a pdf workbook and the opportunity to download the classes and watch them offline. Rhimes is one of the biggest names in television today and an engaging speaker who seems to relish letting learners in on all the secrets that got her to where she is today.
- Price: $180 annual membership (access to 100+ classes)
- Time to complete: Self-paced
Who should take this course? Best for those with some script-writing experience, or anyone who wants to try their luck with the notoriously-difficult-to-break-into world of TV writing.
The Novelry Writing for Children
Intelligent Award: Best for Children’s Literature
The Novelry offers several programs for children’s writers, ranging from the Classic Course Box Set, which allows you to work through 45 lessons at your own speed for $365, up to The Book in a Year Plan, which guides you from planning, creating, and writing a children’s novel to publishing within a year (costs $1,999). The latter includes nine one-on-one sessions with a children’s fiction tutor to help you shape your creation — a valuable benefit for budding writers. An interactive platform allows you to ask questions or add comments online. Classes are 15-20 minutes in length, and the company recommends that you allow one hour a day for your writing. The platform keeps track of your progress and offers feedback as you go.
- Price: $365 to $1,999
- Time to complete. Self-paced; one year accessibility
- Prerequisites required . None
- Flexible schedule : Yes
Who should take this course? If you already have a great plan for a novel, the Book in a Year plan is ideal. If you’re still searching for an idea on which you can build a novel, try the Classic Course.
Writer’s Digest University Creative Writing 101
Intelligent Award: Best for Beginners
If you are at the very start of your writing career, you should consider checking out Writer’s Digest University. A venerable name in the writing world, Writer’s Digest has been publishing a magazine for writers since 1920, and it has the professional chops to offer solid, comprehensive courses to both beginners and experienced writers. Creative Writing 101 is geared toward those who have an idea and the urge to write, but are not sure where to begin. The classes lead you in shaping your protagonist and antagonist and fleshing out the plot of the story while addressing common writerly concerns such as determining point of view and how to motivate yourself to write. The 12 sessions are available for $579.99, which is a bit on the steep side for what you receive, but the quality of the courses is generally excellent.
- Price: $579.99
- Time to complete: 12 weeks
Who should take this course? Those who are at the beginning of their writing career without a strong sense of direction. It’s also good for established writers who would like a refresher on topics such as imagery and dialogue.
Bookfox Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book
Intelligent Award: Best Editorial Support
Bookfox is the brainchild of John Matthew Fox, a former college professor, editor, and writer, who well understands the ins and outs of the publishing world. His courses, which include Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book, are packed with information. They delve far beyond the actual writing process, and include how to generate book ideas, the revision process, and, perhaps most importantly, how to successfully publish your book. He also touches on topics including finding an illustrator and agent as well as what you should know if you decide to self-publish. Fox himself teaches each class. The self-paced children’s book class has 14 lessons, which take anywhere from two weeks up to one year. As a one-man operation, Bookfox doesn’t have the highly-polished look and feel of companies like MasterClass, but Fox’s knowledge base more than makes up for his website’s lack of bells and whistles.
- Price: $149
- Time to complete: Up to one year
Who should take this course? Anyone who wants comprehensive information on the editorial and publishing process.
CreativeLive Writing Your Story
Intelligent Award: Best for Memoir Writing
CreativeLive’s Memoir course, called “Writing Your Story,” is taught by celebrated novelist and memorist Joyce Maynard, who first came to public recognition following her account of her affair with J.D. Salinger, At Home in the World . She’s written several other books of an autobiographical nature along with 11 novels. Her teaching style is engaging and idiosyncratic, and involves numerous stories from her own life. If that piques your curiosity, you’ll find her course engaging and informative, with 26 lessons that range from 5-30 minutes long and discuss how to determine what to write, how to write it, and how to handle criticism and rejection. If you enjoy Maynard’s style of teaching, note that there are several other courses taught by her, including How to Write a Full-Length Memoir and How to Write a Personal Essay.
- Price: $11/month for pass that includes 1500+ classes; $89 if you purchase just this class
- Time to complete: Five hours, 19 minutes spread over 26 lessons
Who should take this course? A great option for anyone who wants to tell their own story.
Grammar Lion A Grammar Refresher for All Writers & Editors
Intelligent Award: Best for Grammar Review
Having a great story to tell is important, but unless you have the basic building blocks of writing, you won’t be able to tell it. This means paying attention to grammar, and it’s what the Grammar Lion Grammar Refresher course offers. Appropriate both for those who need to learn about grammar as well as accomplished writers looking for a review of basic material, the course starts out by identifying the parts of speech, reviews sentence structure, delves into verb forms, and discusses shifts in person, tense, and structure. One whole lesson is given to matters of clarity and logic, and course extras include helpful resources and a favorite books list. The instructor is Ellen Feld, an author, editor, and educator who has taught more than 44,000 students in her online grammar refresher courses. You can connect to Feld via a discussion forum or by private email. She also offers one-on-one editing services for an additional fee.
Who should take this course? Beginners who are learning grammar for the first time and experienced writers who need a refresh in the building blocks of language.
LitReactor Writing the Weird
Intelligent Award: Best Online Community
LitReactor’s courses are hip and decidedly off-center. Take, for example, the course Writing the Weird, taught by J.S. Breukelaar, a finalist for the Ladies of Horror Fiction award and author of Collision . Enrollment is limited to 16 students, who take a deep dive into surreal, fantastic, and otherwise bizarre literature to find and write the human elements that make a story stand out. The four week course is divided into four topics: humanity, structure, setting, and resolution. You’ll explore the work of writers from Kelly Link to Matt Bell, and discover how conventional narrative can be a starting point for delving into innovative and speculative fiction. Each week you’ll be given writing assignments that will be critiqued by Breukelaar and your classmates, and in the fourth and last week, you’ll develop a story from start to finish based on what you’ve learned. Depending on your job title, this class may be the least likely to get you a raise. But it just may be the most fun of all our finalists.
- Price: $350
- Time to complete: 4 weeks
Who should take this course? Anyone with a taste for the off-beat and a willingness to stretch themselves and think outside of the box.
Gotham Writers Workshop Fiction Writing Level 1
Intelligent Award: Best Supporting Materials
Gotham Writers Workshop has made a name for itself in the NYC region with in-person and Zoom classes, but it also offers well-regarded online classes. Level I classes, such as Fiction Writing I, max out with 16 students per class, so you are guaranteed personal attention from the instructor. Level II and III classes (which include the continuation of the Fiction Writing series), have a maximum of 14 students. You can access each class and do the accompanying exercises anytime during the week for the 10 week workshops. The online interface makes it easy to submit work and read critiques from instructors and fellow students. Lessons are text-based rather than video, and there is a wealth of accompanying materials, such as reading lists and podcasts, to help you extend your learning experience.
- Price: Registration fee: $25; Online: $409; Returning students: $379; One-on-one: $1,745
- Time to complete: 10 weeks
- Flexible schedule: Modified flex time, with work needing to be completed within a week
Who should take this course? Anyone who prefers text-based lessons; those who want to interact personally with their instructor and peers.
Online Course Comparison Chart
Tips for succeeding in an online writing course, 1. consider the cost, how much do online writing classes cost.
Online writing courses are offered at a broad range of price points, our cheapest option is free, and the highest is nearly $2K. Generally, the more personal one-on-one time you have with an editor or your instructor, the more you’ll pay. LitReactor, for example, has a vibrant online community and regular feedback from your instructor, and costs $350 for the roughly four-week class.
Many of our choices are paid for in one lump sum when you sign up. A few, however, follow Coursera’s model of charging by the month or year. Also, keep in mind that some of our choices, such as MasterClass, give you access to all courses for the membership fee. So, if you have the time and interest, your $180 annual fee at MasterClass could net you literally dozens of courses in a range of topics.
Will my employer pay for me to take the course?
If you work in the communications industry, or in any industry that values good, clear writing skills, you may be able to have all or part of your writing course fees paid for by your employer, especially if you can show them how the course will benefit them. It’s worth asking your boss or your HR supervisor if they will help out with the cost.
2. Get your tech squared away
You shouldn’t need any special software or hardware to take an online writing course. You will need a good internet connection and a computer that is loaded with the most recent version of your chosen browser and system files. Most courses are formatted to work on both desktop computers and other devices, such as your tablet or smartphone. One handy app if you use Google Chrome is the company’s Video Speed Controller , which allows you to speed up or slow down HTML5 video, as needed.
3. Use the right study resources
One resource that many writers swear by is a good style guide. There are several of these, and you can generally find out which style guide your company uses with a quick question to the marketing or communications department. Here are the most common:
- Associated Press Stylebook — now in its 55th edition, this is the granddaddy of them all. Used by journalists, it is also the favored choice for much web writing as well as some academia.
- The Chicago Manual of Style — a wealth of information, the 17th edition features chapters on grammar and usage, a glossary of problematic words, and extensive information on citing sources.
- Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association — in its 7th edition, this style guide is used extensively by researchers and those in science and health care.
Frequently Asked Questions About Writing Courses
What jobs can you get after completing a writing course.
Few people are full-time authors. But the vast majority of professions, from legal work to health care, require those who can write clearly and concisely. According to the government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook , a full-time writer earns an average of $67,120 a year — but you can earn significantly more, depending on your job skills and professional area.
Are there free online writing courses?
Yes. In fact, one of our ten best choices is Udemy, which offers a broad range of free courses. In general, however, the old adage about how you get what you pay for holds true — the best, most well-designed courses will usually have a cost attached to them.
How long is the average online writing course?
Online writing courses vary from less than an hour to up to a year. Since most offer a flexible schedule, you can do them when you have time available. Keep in mind that in addition to lectures you’ll be watching or reading, you may also have exercises to complete, which take additional time.
Are online writing courses worth it?
They can be. Like many things in life, you will get as much out of it as you put into it. If you are taking a course for personal enrichment, all our chosen courses should benefit you. If you’re looking for professional advancement, a course with a certificate of completion may be a good idea, so you can show the certificate to your boss when done.
What are the best online writing courses?
There are probably hundreds of online writing courses — we looked at nearly 75 for this review. The best online writing courses are the ones we’ve featured above. The best writing course for your needs will depend on what you are looking to get out of it. If you’re hoping to write a best-selling children’s book, for example, the best writing class might not be Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass. You’d be better off choosing an option like The Novelry’s program or John Matthew Fox’s Bookfox.
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Last updated on May 12, 2021
Creative Writing Classes: 13 Online Courses for Writers
These days, there’s no shortage of ways to learn from the comfort of your own home, and writing is no exception. Creative writing classes abound on the internet, but in such a crowded market, it's difficult to know which are best suited to your skill level, interests, and learning preferences.
Below, we’ve gathered thirteen of our favorite online creative writing classes. These courses range quite a bit in price, time commitment, and writing topics, so there’s bound to be something that will fit your needs and lifestyle.
💲 Cost: Free 👨🏫 Type: Email lessons
If you’re struggling to find time for creative writing classes, Reedsy Learning is for you. These bite-sized lessons are emailed to you once a day for ten days and can be read in five minutes or less. But don’t let their compact size fool you — each lesson is packed with practical tips, links to additional resources, and enough exercises to keep your skills sharp. There are also courses on editing , marketing , and publishing for when you’re ready to take your creative writing to the next level.
Gotham Writers’ Workshop
💲 Cost: $165 - $409 (plus registration fees) 👨🏫 Type: Video lectures, live Zoom classes, assignments, critique
The largest adult-education writing school in the US, Gotham Writers has been helping budding authors hone their skills since the 1990s. Based in New York City, they offer in-person classes as well as a variety of online options for students all over the globe. With self-paced courses, live Zoom lectures, write-ins, and several free events per term, Gotham Writers emulates the university feel wherever possible.
Note: Gotham Writers' Workshop has a free course on Novel Revision on Reedsy Learning.
💲 Cost: $0 - $109 👨🏫 Type: Lectures (videos, slides, and text)
Founded in 2010, Udemy is a massive online open course (MOOC) platform, created to provide an alternative to in-person, university learning. Their primary audience is made up of professionals and students — some of their courses even offer credit toward technical certifications. Their creative writing courses are broad and geared mainly toward beginners, through there are some intermediate courses that get into specific niches.
💲 Cost: $0 - $998 👨🏫 Type: Video lectures, online assignments
Another MOOC, edX was started as a collaboration between Harvard and MIT, but these days boasts classes from a wide variety of respected universities. Like Udemy, some of their courses also offer college credits. edX’s courses are weekly, consisting of short videos, interactive learning exercises, and online discussion groups. Their writing courses cover everything from novels to stand-up comedy to digital content. There are also related courses in journalism, composition, and grammar, among other specializations.
💲 Cost: Free (Creative Writing Specialization) 👨🏫 Type: Video lectures, online assignments
One last MOOC for our list, this time founded by several Computer Science professors from Stanford University. But don’t let its history fool you — Coursera offers humanities classes as much as science and technology. In addition to general courses, Coursera also offers specializations, a series of courses that work together much like what you’d find in a university.
💲 Cost: $180/year 👨🏫 Type: Video lectures, workbooks
If learning from household-name celebrities sounds like an exciting way to develop your skills, Masterclass is perfect for you. Each Masterclass course is taught by renowned professionals — which, for writers, means learning from the likes of Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, R.L. Stine, Neil Gaiman, and many more. Work through the lectures at your own pace. Detailed workbooks will give you plenty to do, both during and after the course.
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💲 Cost: $19.99/month when billed monthly, or $99/year when billed annually 👨🏫 Type: Video lectures, worksheets, assigned projects
While Skillshare offers some celebrity-hosted courses (want to learn how to write a personal essay from Roxane Gay?), the bulk of their classes are led by enthusiastic experts ready to share their knowledge with a hungry audience. In addition to the videos, Skillshare courses provide students with a course-long assignment to complete, which then gets reviewed and discussed with the course instructor.
Writer’s Digest University
💲 Cost: $49.99 - $799.99 👨🏫 Type: Video lectures, assignments, critique, discussion group
Run by Writer’s Digest, these new ‘University’ courses are aimed at students with a wide range of skill levels and career goals. Whether you just want to practice your artistic skills in poetry or novels , or you’re looking to get creative with blogging, you can browse courses based on the form of writing, your goals as a writer, or the elements of writing you’re aiming to improve. Each course gives you access to a discussion group as well as a private “journal” where you can write notes visible only to you and your instructor.
LitReactor Online Writing Workshops
💲 Cost: $99 - $399 👨🏫 Type: Video lectures, assignments, critique
Unlike most of the other courses on our list, LitReactor’s ever-changing roster of online classes only runs for a few weeks at a time— so if there’s one you want to participate in, make sure you sign up while you can. Still, if you can make their schedule work for you, these highly interactive courses could provide you with exactly the boost you need to get into a solid writing habit.
The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers
💲 Cost: $9 - $29 👨🏫 Type: Lectures (written and video), exercises
Run by Nebula-award-winning author and two-term former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Cat Rambo, these courses are a treasure trove of highly targeted but widely useful creative writing topics. Need to find time to write in the cracks of your life? There's a course for that. Want to get your hands on nuanced breakdowns of revising, or the finer points of literary prose? You're in the right place. Are you brimming with genre-specific questions on fairy tale retellings or steampunk worldbuilding? Rambo's got you covered.
The Creative Penn Courses
💲 Cost: $69 - $297 👨🏫 Type: Video lectures, downloadable slides, discussion group
While Joanna Penn is perhaps best known for her advice on selling and marketing your work, she also offers creative writing courses on nonfiction, co-writing books, and crafting novels. Each course is self-paced, and full of Penn’s trademark no-nonsense advice and inspiring, uplifting attitude.
Brandon Sanderon’s lecture series
💲 Cost: Free 👨🏫 Type: Video lectures
If you’ve ever dreamt of sitting in on a college-level course taught by a prolific, bestselling author, look no further. This lecture series is literally just a recording of Brandon Sanderson’s creative writing course that he teaches at BYU. Widely regarded as a must-watch video series for writers of science fiction and fantasy, Sanderson covers topics ranging from weaving intricate plots and fleshing out a believable fantasy world to writing fantastical short stories. Since it’s available for free on YouTube, many genre writers find themselves revisiting it over and over again.
Lastly, we have our very own Reedsy Live: a series of webinars presented by a wide range of expert editors across many different genres. These video replays are the perfect way to sharpen your skill in a fun, upbeat environment. Whether you’re looking to write for a middle grade audience , want to learn how to create spine-chilling suspense , or simply want help refining your author “voice,” our editors will walk you through the process with wisdom and experience. (Like what one of them has to say? You can even hire them to edit your work to perfection!) Reedsy Live also covers how to take your creative writing project all the way to publication — and beyond.
With this wealth of resources at your fingertips, there really is no reason not to get out there and pursue your creative writing dreams. We can’t wait to see your work on the shelves someday!
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- Featured Writing Courses
- Online Writing Courses
- Free Writing Courses
- Creative Nonfiction
- Writing Tips
What to Expect in a Creative Writing Class
1. learn grammar and punctuation.
2. Extend your vocabulary
3. problem-solving abilities, 4. develop ideas, 5. increase your observation of the world, 6. instructor and peer assessment, 7. improve creative writing skills.
What Do You Learn in a Creative Writing Course?
1. ascertain your writing goals, 2. discover your writing strengths and weaknesses, 3. learn from interacting with other writers, 4. improve your writing skills, 5. form good writing habits, 6. learn from an expert.
Benefits of Studying Creative Writing
1. improve understanding of english language, 2. communication skills, 3. engage readers, 4. self-confidence, 5. self-expression.
6. Career prospects
All Creative Nonfiction Featured Courses Free Writing Courses Online Writing Courses Screenwriting Writing Tips
Most of the creative writing workshops I've been in will have the desks arranged in a circle so that people can make eye contact and see each
Creative writing classes are a good way to learn how to tap into your intuition, your memory, your senses, and turn it into words on the page. Many new writers
Creative writing classes focus specifically on craft: the elements of language and storytelling that make a work of prose or poetry successful.
I have taught a lot of creative writing classes. ... You might naturally have skin like old leather, but if you don't you're going to build
Most creative writing classes are based on the roundtable system, in which your fellow students will read your work and provide commentary. Wait
Creative writing is all about using your imagination and creativity to express ideas and thoughts in a way which is personal to you. Quite simply, it's about
Generally you will work on your stories throughout the semester and each week 1-4 people will read their work aloud, and the class and professor
Within those genres, you'll learn about crafting characters and settings, writing descriptions, and developing your style, followed by a
Like Udemy, some of their courses also offer college credits. edX's courses are weekly, consisting of short videos, interactive learning
What to Expect in a Creative Writing Class · 1. Learn grammar and punctuation · 2. Extend your vocabulary · 3. Problem-solving abilities · 4.