Go “Back To School” With These 10 Online Writing Courses

Go “Back To School” With These 10 Online Writing Courses

It’s no wonder that many writers are lifelong learners — curiosity is one of our most important tools!

Whether that takes the form of attending local history lectures or spending hours in the rabbit hole of Wikipedia (guilty!), most writers I know are constantly trying to expand their minds and their skills.

Fortunately, new educational technology advancements are making it easier than ever for individuals to access the brains of some pretty stellar instructors.

If you’ve been looking for a way to improve your writing craft but don’t have the time — or the cash — to go back to school, check out these ten courses and guides.

1. Gotham Writers

Gotham Writers has been a learning resource for writers since it was founded in 1993. Now, the institution offers online courses on a variety of topics, taught by their talented faculty.

Unlike some online courses, Gotham Writers limits class size so that students get individualized instruction.

The courses range from $150-300, and touch everything from character creation to business writing.

2. The Writer’s Workshop

If you’re looking for a self-paced program with one-on-one help, the online writing classes through The Writer’s Workshop are a great option.

The courses cover everything from Writing 101 to advanced materials, with specialties like travel writing, nature writing and creative nonfiction.

All courses are $500, and can start at any time. Students have six months to complete the materials and the assignments under the direction of an instructor.

3. Start Writing Fiction (FutureLearn)

Start Writing Fiction is a free 8-week course through FutureLearn, a site which offers courses from universities and cultural institutions around the world.

The course is intended for newcomers to fiction, and features instruction from a variety of well-known literary writers.

4. Skillshare

Skillshare is a site where experts from a variety of fields from design to culinary arts share their knowledge through short courses.

The site’s selection of writing courses feature self-study courses like “Storytelling Fundamentals: Character, Conflict, Context, Craft” with Daniel José Older, and “Fundamentals of Free Writing: Opening the Floodgates to Your Creative Genius” with Aubrey Gail Ferreira.

You can test out some courses for free, or sign up for a Premium subscription for $12/month or $96/year, which gives you unlimited access to all Skillshare’s courses.

5. Story Genius (Author Accelerator)

Following up on Lisa Cron’s fantastic book, Story Genius: How to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel, the Story Genius course helps writers plot their novels from the inside out, by focusing on the character’s journey.

The course offers a self-study option ($399) or a full workshop option ($699) which includes live Q&As with instructors Lisa Cron and Jennie Nash.

6. Creative Writing Specialization (Coursera)

Coursera provides access to online courses from established institutions to students around the world. Along with individual courses, students can also enroll in an entire specialization, or set of courses on a topic.

Through Coursera, you can watch many of the video lectures for free to help you get a feel for the course. Individual courses are priced at about $29-99; multi-course specializations like Creative Writing from Wesleyan University or Become a Journalist from Michigan State University are priced at $250-500 each.

Self-study guides

Don’t have time for an intensive multi-session course? There are also some great self-guided courses and guides out there to help you improve your craft.

Here are some of our favorites:

7. How to Create Believable Characters, by James Chartrand of Men With Pens ($23)

Chartrand is known as a copywriting guru, but in this guide she dives into the world of fiction with a practical guide to help you create more believable characters.

8. The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing, by Ali Luke ($29)

This installment of Luke’s popular Blogger’s Guides series will help you take your blogging craft up a notch. The guide comes with an ebook, a series of templates, and bonus videos where Luke critiques sample blog posts to help you see the practical applications of her guide.

9. Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers, by Sarah Stone ($80)

Written as a college textbook, Deepening Fiction is excellent for self-study. Along with questions and exercises throughout the book, Stone also includes a mini-anthology of 22 stories meant to illustrate what students are learning. (A note: you can often find this book used for much less than the textbook price.)

10. Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, by Janet Burroway ($19)

Burroway is both an author and a professor of creative writing, and in this information-packed book she leads writers through exercises meant to develop skills in fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction.

Everyone from poets and creative nonfiction writers to bloggers and genre fiction writers will find something here. Happy learning!

Do you have a favorite online course or guide? Share in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

Filed Under: Craft
Free Newsletter

Enjoyed that post? Subscribe for more:

Unconventional Guide to Law & Order

Featured resource

Unconventional Guide to Law & Order

This guide from Chris Guillebeau is like hiring a legal team to answer all the questions you have when starting out on a small business venture.


  • I did the course with FutureLearn it wasn’t too bad. I wish the professor did more of the critiques though instead of the students. I think the students were too nervous to be honest because they didn’t want negative reviews themselves. Hearing from the professor/facilitator more would have been ideal and made me more confidence at the end of the 8 weeks. As a result, I didn’t purchase the certificate.

    • Jessie Kwak says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Challa.

    • Samantha H. says:

      THIS! Hearing from someone who doesn’t feel like they need to be nice would be helpful. Im not masochistic but if something I’ve written isn’t good, tell me what’s bad and give me your opinion on where I went wrong. I wished these classes as a pre-requisite for how to give constrictive criticism. I feel like i’m wasting money and not getting the real feedback I should be.

  • Rabina Pinto says:

    I took Ali Luke’s Effective Writing course online. It was helpful but later on I took a classroom training on content writing and that helped me a lot to understand not only effective content writing but many other related aspects as well. If anyone wants to be successful in blogging, only quality content writing may not be sufficient. Knowing how to promote and sell contents on different online platforms is really important these days. Thanks for sharing these resources.

  • ILENE Goldman says:

    Don’t forget LitReactor. I took a Personal Essay Writing class with Chloe Caldwell that helped me write and gave great feedback. They offer classes in different kinds of fiction and other writing, too.

  • Jennie Nash says:

    So thrilled to be included on this list!

  • Hi Jessie!

    As a bestselling author, I’ve just launched 3 online courses myself that I’d love to have you review for consideration! Publish A Profitable Book walks self-publishing authors from editing to the publishing of a book that is indistinguishable from the NYT bestseller that may be sitting next to it. Write Your Book in 75 Days guides writers toward that exact goal. CreateSpace: What, Why & How walks authors step-by-step through the CreateSpace space (pun intended), clearly explaining all four bookselling arms of Amazon as well as offering a video step-by-step walkthrough of the upload process to both CreateSpace and KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

  • Ken Kuhlken says:


    Please take a look at Perelandra College, url below. .

  • I write for a business magazine. My learning place is not listed since it is not that popular but i must say doing a course polishes your skill.

  • Digi Manthan says:

    Thanks Jessie for sharing great information. I always wanted to enhance my writing skills and “The Writer’s Workshop” is looking great to me.

  • J says:

    I know this post is old but I figured it was the best place to ask. What about Writers Digest University courses? I want to know if you have used them before and are they worth the money?