You already know how to write, so why should you take an online writing course?
Good question. Let me explain…
I became an empty-nester in September. All three kids are off living in three different cities, studying to become someone who can earn a living at something they enjoy for the rest of their lives (at least this is the plan). As for me, this means I should have oodles more time to finish that novel (or multiple novels) that I have on the go, right? There are no kids wandering around my kitchen begging to be fed at a certain time. I have a husband who enjoys cooking for me and he doesn’t mind throwing in a load of laundry or washing dishes, while I write.
What’s my problem then?
Well, I felt a little lost. Unfocused. Sad. I wasn’t really needed as a mom anymore. Sure, I was still writing every day, but I just didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere fast. In the year of immediate gratification, I felt like I needed to be pushed, prodded and kicked in the ass to do something different. Hence: the online writing courses. Since September, I have completed four writing courses, and I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Here are 10 Great Reasons Why Writers Should Take an Online Writing Course
- Guidance – Finding an amazing teacher you can learn from, bond with and become friends with is a treasure all on its own. This is a person who has already travelled the path you are currently wandering on, or it’s a person who has the editing experience for a specific magazine you are trying to publish in, or it’s a person who has won numerous awards in her genre who can share intimate details of behind the scenes in areas you know nothing about. It’s like having a personal mentor in which you can ask specific questions and get immediate answers directly related to your personal writing issues that allows you to progress quicker.
- Education – Just because you think you can write a novel or a short story, doesn’t mean you know anything about how to write a personal essay or how to write in other genres or forms. Example: The Creative Nonfiction world is full of lyrical essays, hermit crab essays, prose poetry, and flash fiction… all of which were brand new to me. Writing a story down on paper is one thing, but learning how many different forms and options there are to tell it in, is definitely eye-opening (and exciting). The instructors provide examples from published sources that will inspire you and motivate you to try new ways to express yourself and tell your truthful or fictitious tales. Not to mention, they introduce you to new ways to submit and keep organized by using Duotrope and Submittable, and new ways to communicate by using Discus Digest and Zoom Video Conferencing, etc.
- Feedback – Easily, this is hands-down my favourite reason. How do you know if you are on the right track without receiving some editing advice? The writing instructors are amazing at pointing out your trouble areas and your strengths. Plus, if your instructor uses an online discussion board like Disqus Digest or a closed Facebook Group, your fellow classmates can also give you great critiques, recommendations and feedback about why they like what you have posted or why they don’t like it and what’s not working with your piece. You can use them to bounce ideas off of, as well.
- Networking – While you and your fellow writers are all working on the course exercises, you become a tight knit group with the same focus and drive for completing your pieces. Some classes have an online aspect, where you meet once or twice a week online over a “Zoom” gathering to chat in-person about writing and questions of process and craft. This was great to get to know each other, especially since we were all from different countries around the globe. I’ve become writing buddies with all of the participants in the four writing courses.
- Stimulation – The creative writing courses allow you to stimulate your brain and foster many new ideas in a fresh creative way. One of my teachers actually gave us copies of her personal examples showing the steps she took to get from pulling the first idea from the hundreds of possibilities all the way to finished product. It really helps someone learn the form by watching someone go through the step-by-step process of how it started as a two-word idea that magically transformed into a finished piece winning an award. Fascinating.
- Development – The online writing courses help develop your writing style and your writing skills from actually having to do the work. You are required to complete exercises and discuss them with the class. They work on specific deadlines, which are perfect for making the three-toed sloth writer into a cheetah writer. You can no longer procrastinate and say you’ll work on your story next week, because you have to hand in a new story every Monday. So, not only do you have to write something new in a seven-day period, BUT, you need to edit it a few times and make it worthy of someone else reading it.
- Resilience – Online courses come with constructive criticism and feedback, as I mentioned above. However, they teach you how to withstand or recover quickly from difficult comments or edits that you didn’t want to see or hear. You can choose to agree or ignore the comments, but if they are consistent with more than one person, you may want to look closer at what they are trying to tell you. They may be correct. It also teaches you how to be comfortable in giving comments to other writers as well. Becoming resilient by giving and taking criticism is a useful skill, whether you are writing short stories, essays or novels.
- Motivation – Each writing course will have writing exercises for you to complete, whether it be to answer questions about your general writing practice routine, or what your novel is actually about, or to create a completely new story or essay. Either way, these questions motivate you into actually sitting your butt in the chair and getting you to write something.
- Inspiration – With each writing exercise you create, you will think of three other ideas that you want to try once the class is over. It inspires you to think outside the box and attempt projects you may never have even thought about before. Not to mention it inspires you to take chances and submit to contests you never would have dreamed about entering before.
- Commitment – We have an accountability group for each course, to check in and tell each other how many submissions we have sent out into the world, how many rejections we have received and how many acceptances or contest wins we have nailed. It is quite motivating to have people wondering how you are doing. You start to write each and every day, getting more serious with your writing, moving toward more completed pieces of work… yes, actually finishing pieces and submitting them too. All wonderful things for a writer.
Bottom line: You don’t need to take an online writing course to write that novel, short story or essay.
However, for me, I think they were all beneficial. I feel inspired and motivated to write faster, to write in different genres and to definitely submit my work more often.
I have also learned…
- To focus hard on several different aspects of my writing life.
- To commit and submit to Literary Magazines (thanks to Rachel Thompson).
- To edit and polish my prose like a ROCKSTAR (thanks to Rachel Thompson).
- To write my novel like a fearless finisher should (thanks to Lauren Carter).
- To try the new forms of writing and submitting creative nonfiction (thanks to Nicole Breit).
These three amazing teachers/instructors have made my last six months full of fun and allowed me to feel more confident with my ability to write something. They have inspired me to continue on and write like tomorrow might be my last day on earth, and I need to celebrate every small thing (with cake). Three cheers to online writing courses! Hope to see you in the next one.
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