All of us want to improve our writing skills, hone our craft, and get ahead in our writing careers. Not all of us can go back to school and get our MFA in writing—heck, not all of us want to! Thankfully, the internet makes it possible to take great online writing courses for free (no matter where you live, what your circumstances, or your budget). Taking a writing course online can help you polish your writing to be the best it can be—a critical step before either self-publishing or submitting your manuscript to publishers. Through these free writing courses, you’ll gain practical tips and strategies to help you improve your writing—both for your current manuscript and for future projects.
Free Online Writing CoursesThe more you learn and practice, the easier writing will become and the better your books will be. And that’s key to attracting and growing a devoted audience and becoming a full-time author!
How to Choose an Online Writing CourseYou’ll want to choose a course that meets your needs, which means you need to know your needs first.
Identify Your GoalsWhen picking a course, ask yourself what specific areas you’re looking to improve:
- Do you want to pick up basic writing skills, like improving your grammar?
- Do you want to learn more about how to create gripping plots?
- Do you want to learn to create realistic, vivid characters?
- Do you want to learn how to add value to your nonfiction writing?
- Do you want to turn your life experiences into a book that has meaning for a broad audience?
- Do you want to learn how to earn a living off a specific kind of writing?
- Do you want to dive deep into a specific area of craft, like dialogue construction?
Set Your Course BudgetNext, you’ll want to ask yourself what you’re willing to commit to a course, both in terms of time and money. There are some great free courses out there, as well as other courses that charge a fee. You might consider starting with a free class to make sure that you can handle the online learning format, then stepping up to a more advanced paid class later.
Pick a Commitment LevelAny course or class, no matter whether it’s online or not, requires dedication to actually make a difference in your life. You’ll need to be ready to listen to lectures, read papers and presentations, follow through on assignments, and engage with your classmates. Some online courses are completely self-paced, which means you work through the material on your own, taking as long as you like. This is great for people with busy lives, jobs, and family commitments—but it also means you have to take responsibility for structuring your time and doing the work. Other courses have weekly assignments, sometimes even monitored or graded by an instructor, along with class chat sessions, feedback opportunities, and other ways to have a full classroom experience without actually going to a university. These types of courses are less flexible, as they often require you to log in at certain times, and they demand that you do your work on time! But they also offer a lot of benefits in terms of helping you manage your time and devote energy to improving your writing and to working with other writers to start forming a community. Once you’ve figured out what you’re looking to learn, what you’re willing to commit (in terms of time, energy, dedication, and money), and how you think you’ll learn best, you can get started with your writing course! Of course, you might not be quite ready to take the plunge into paying for an online writing class just yet. Will you be able to keep up with the assignments? How do online lectures work, anyway? To help you get started in the world of online learning, we’ve rounded up some of the best free online writing courses out there, regardless of your focus: creative writing, fiction, and nonfiction. Ready to find the right course for you? Let’s check them out!
Free Creative Writing CoursesCreative writing courses are amazing because they can be applied to just about anything you want to write, from memoirs to novels…even nonfiction! These classes teach you the basic skills you need to write fluidly, fluently, and with style—essential no matter what your genre or field. More advanced classes help you find your writing voice, learn the secrets of creating an author brand and ecosystem, and improve your technique. English Composition class will help you master the basics so that you can improve every aspect of your writing, no matter what your focus is. Over the eight-week intensive course, you’ll learn a variety of useful skills that can serve as the building blocks of your future writing career, helping you gain mastery over the English language and learn to write in a way that others respect and admire. You’ll be asked to complete several writing assignments, as well as writing a reflection piece on each of them. You’ll also have the opportunity to engage with other learners and get feedback on your work as you develop your skills. In this course, you’ll learn:
- How to target your writing to your audience’s needs
- How to think critically about reading and writing
- How to use style conventions and techniques to improve your writing
- How to use technology to write more effectively and efficiently
- How to unlock your creativity
- How to develop good writing habits
- How to uncover your personal writing style and voice
- The basics of writing a short story
- How to choose an effective point of view
- How to use vivid imagery to bring your ideas to life
- How to find and use writers’ groups, competitions, and communities of writers
- The basics of publishing and marketing your work
Free Fiction Writing ClassesIf you’ve already started on your career as a novelist and are looking to take your skills to the next level, a fiction-specific writing course might be best for you! Start Writing Fiction takes you from zero to novelist in eight weeks. You’ll listen to lectures from renowned novelists, develop your skills through writing prompts and assignments, and get personalized feedback from your classmates and instructor during the class. In this course, you’ll learn:
- How and why to keep a writing journal
- How to write better dialogue
- How to do better research
- How to structure a plot
- Why reading matters as a writer
- How to self-edit your work
- How to keep track of your fiction ideas
- How (and why) to outline your novel
- Basic worldbuilding techniques
- Character development tips and tricks
- How to create a daily writing habit
- How to pick a great short story topic
- How to trim the fat from your writing
- How to edit short stories
- How to sell your stories to literary journals, anthologies, and magazines
Free Nonfiction Writing CoursesReady to hone your skills at turning real-life information, tips, techniques, and situations into enthralling prose that changes your readers’ lives? Take one of these free nonfiction writing courses! The Non-Sexy Business of Writing Nonfiction walks you through the good, the bad, and the ugly of writing, publishing, and marketing nonfiction books. In this 10-day course, you’ll get an email each day walking you through some critical aspect of writing and publishing nonfiction, covering topics like:
- How to get started on your book
- How to do targeted market research
- Tools and strategies to maximize your productivity
- Tips for outlining
- Using life experiences in your writing
- Creating vivid imagery
- Constructing and pacing scenes
- Using memories to structure narrative
- Turning the everyday into the memorable
- Important questions to ask before writing your book
- How to outline and structure
- How to set manageable goals
- How to build your audience
Start Taking Free Online Writing CoursesNo matter where you are on your writing journey, there’s always something new to learn. That’s the great thing about this path—we can learn, grow, and stretch ourselves in new and different ways every day! One or more of the online writing courses we’ve covered here is sure to help you develop your skills and move to the next level as a writer, regardless of what genre you’re focused on or what your goals are. Pick a class or two, sign up, and try it out! Apply the new techniques and strategies you’ve learned to your next writing project and see what a difference practice and development can make for you. Then pick another class and keep on going! Want to learn more about honing your craft as a writer? Check out these great resources:
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