Once of the 10 Commandments of a Serious Writer is “I shall always be learning”. Part of this is practicing your writing consistently. Part of it is reading books that teach you new techniques or new things about the world. Yet at some point it becomes necessary to do more, to take learning about your craft to the next level.
So how do you do this without spending thousands of dollars and hours getting an MFA?
I’ve talked a lot about the value of a writing group in the last few weeks, but you can step it up a notch by taking an online course. Several universities now offer free writing courses, and some writing communities offer them to members as well.
Still, sometimes what you need to reinvigorate your writing is an investment. We work hard to earn our money, and we’re more likely to take something seriously if we paid for it out of pocket. And thanks to the internet, you can find courses catered to people at any stage of their writing life with a wide range of prices.
Assessing what you need
Before you even start looking at the many courses available, figure out what you really need from a writing course. Do you need a course to help you finish a novel? Is it the submission process that’s giving you trouble now? Will you be satisfied with recorded video instruction, or do you need personalized advice and feedback from a teacher? Maybe all you need is a course with weekly exercises to get you back into the writing group, or a quick crash course to refresh your grammar skills.
Whatever you need, there’s probably a course out there designed specifically for that purpose. Don’t spend money on a course unless you’re absolutely sure it will help you deepen your understanding of writing.
Finding the right course
Look through your favourite writing blogs. Many bloggers such as Linda Formichelli and Gabriela Pereira offer writing courses through their websites on different topics. Of course, these all involve varying levels of commitment both financially and mentally, so make sure you’re really prepared for what you’re signing up for. Your favourite bloggers might have also recommended courses they’ve taken, so glance through the archives to see if you can find something interesting.
There are also several sites dedicated to online education in general or writing education which offer many different courses. I’m currently taking a course on YA fiction writing through Udemy, and it’s quite enjoyable. The videos are perfect to get me into the mood for working on my WIP, and the courses are quite affordable. If you’re looking for something with more intense, personalized instruction try the Gotham Writer’s Workshop.
The right course will be worth every penny you spent, and will help take your writing–and your perception of writing–to the next level.
Have you ever taken a writing course, online or in person? What was it like?