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.
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.
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!
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