The Best Online Creative Writing Courses: 12 Things to Look For

Sean Glatch  |  January 25, 2024  | 

Are you looking for the best online creative writing courses? You may have found some promising classes online, but you may also be unsure if the course is actually good. How can you know you’ll benefit from the course without spending your money first?

The good news is, there are creative writing courses out there for everyone, and they’re sure to improve your writing. Even better news, the best online creative writing courses share many of the same qualities.

If you want to learn how to write creatively, or if you simply want to improve your everyday writing, the best online creative writing courses can transform your writing abilities. Let’s explore what you might learn in creative writing classes, and how they help writers of all skill levels.

The Best Online Creative Writing Courses: Contents

12 Things to Look For In the Best Online Creative Writing Courses

1. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Have a Reputable Instructor

Your course is only as good as the instructor who teaches it. For online writing classes to teach you the craft, they need to have reputable, trustworthy instructors. A great instructor will also be empathetic, community-oriented, adaptive to your writing needs, and a great writer themselves.

A great instructor will also be empathetic, community-oriented, adaptive to your writing needs, and a great writer themselves.

Do some research on the course instructor: they should have a terminal degree in their field (M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D., etc.), as well as a significant publication history. A reputable instructor will make all the difference in your course: as part of their education, the instructor should have undergone dozens of writing workshops, submitted to countless literary journals, and had their work scrutinized by critics and book lovers alike.

In order for an instructor to help you develop your creative writing skills, they need to be successful on their own. The best instructors are what make the best online creative writing courses.

2. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Have a Clear Course Description

What does the course teach you, and what will you learn week by week? In addition to listing a reputable instructor, the course description should tell you exactly what you’ll gain from taking the course.

In addition to listing a reputable instructor, the course description should tell you exactly what you’ll gain from taking the course.

Be sure you know exactly what you’re getting out of your online creative writing course, including what you might learn and write in the process. Consider what will help you the most as you embark on your writing journey: entering a course with certain goals or learning objectives will help you make the most of the course’s lectures and writing assignments.

There should be no ambiguity: if you’re paying for the course, you deserve to know exactly what you’re paying for. And, if you have questions, ask the program administrator before you enroll. They should be happy to hear from you!

woman taking the best online creative writing classes

3. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Promise a Great Experience

The best online creative writing courses prioritize one thing: YOU! Your learning, your goals, and your writing should be at the center of your experience. And, your course should guarantee that experience.

The best online creative writing courses prioritize your learning, your goals, and your writing.

Creative writing classes can be a risk, since they probably won’t confer university credit and you probably haven’t interacted with that instructor before. You want to be confident that your learning is guaranteed, otherwise you’ll only waste your time, money, and creativity.

Before you enroll in an online writing course, look to see if the program administrators have a student promise. Your experience in the course should be the number one priority of the instructor and administrators; otherwise, you’re better off looking elsewhere for the best online creative writing courses.

4. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Offer Constructive Feedback

In addition to useful lectures and assignments, creative writing courses give you access to helpful, instructional feedback. Most instructors hold Masters or Doctoral degrees in English or creative writing and, as a result, they have ample knowledge of what works in literature, as well as tons of experience in giving feedback.

Creative writing courses give you access to helpful, instructional feedback.

In the best online creative writing classes, an instructor will both inspire you to write and guide you towards being a better writer. Their feedback will cover the many aspects of great writing. For example, your instructor might comment on:

  • Unclear language
  • Ideas that need to be expanded
  • Sentences that are too wordy or passive
  • Opportunities to use more engaging vocabulary
  • Places to improve writing structure
  • Grammar and spelling corrections

Finally, an instructor will tell you what you are already doing well in your writing. When you write a really great metaphor, use interesting word choice, or find a moment of great insight, your instructor will tell you—highlighting the creative writing skills you have already mastered.

5. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Focus on Craft

You might be wondering how creative writing classes are different from high school English. The big difference is that, where a typical English class focuses on basic grammar and literacy skills, creative writing classes focus specifically on craft.

Creative writing classes focus specifically on craft: the elements of language and storytelling that make a work of prose or poetry successful.

What is creative writing craft? Craft involves the elements of language and storytelling that make a work of prose or poetry successful. Focusing on craft is how creative writing classes primarily improve your writing.

Your writing class might focus on the structure of a short story, the different types of literary devices, the importance of effective word choice, or the elements of storytelling. A writing class should break down successful works of literature into the components that make it work, giving you the tools to practice your own creative writing skills.

Additionally, craft-focused writing helps you with everyday writing. From improving your vocabulary to structuring an email, the creative writing practice translates to improved writing in every aspect of your life.

journaling in an online creative writing course

6. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Respect Your Creative Autonomy

One of the benefits of creative writing classes is the perspective you get from different writers. No two writers are working on the same projects, and in your course, you’re likely to work with students of different genres and writing styles.

your creative authority should be respected no matter how new you are to creative writing.

With so many different writing philosophies in one class, the new ideas you encounter can help strengthen your own writing. But in the worst-case scenario, a student or instructor might try to force their writing philosophy onto you. This is always unfair, as there is no one-size-fits-all writing advice, your creative authority should be respected no matter how new you are to creative writing.

For example, let’s say you’re writing a poem about your childhood cat, and the instructor thinks it should be a poem about your experiences growing up. No matter how many times you explain you want this poem to be about your cat, the instructor keeps telling you to write more about your childhood. By ignoring your goals for the poem, the instructor is not respecting your creative autonomy, because they think they know your writing needs better than you do.

No matter where you are in your writing journey, you are a writer, and you deserve respect and compassion as such. Every writer is on a constant journey of growth and discovery; your instructor and course should acknowledge and respect that. In your course, you will encounter many different ideas, but you should also encounter the freedom to accept or reject those ideas. It’s your writing: you get the final say!

7. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Foster a Writing Community

A creative writing course fosters a creative writing community. This community gives you the motivation to create, as it creates a safe environment to experiment, take risks, and grow in your writing practice.

A writing community gives you the motivation to create, as it creates a safe environment to experiment, take risks, and grow in your writing practice.

For even the most solitary of writers, writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Participating in a community of word enthusiasts can jog your creativity and give you useful feedback on your work. Additionally, the feedback you provide other writers in the community also helps you learn. It’s a self-fulfilling, self-sustaining process, where members of a writing group can continuously grow, improve, and fine-tune their love of the craft.

In fact, well-known authors throughout history have been a part of valuable writing communities, such as The Beat Poets, Stratford-on-Odeon, and other famous writing groups.

When you enroll in creative writing classes, you also take part in a writing community. Foster relationships, make new writing friends, and forge your own writing group—it may one day be famous, too!

8. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Motivate You to Write

Writing is a skill that you can only develop through practice. For anyone just starting on our writing journeys, the best online creative writing classes keep you motivated and accountable.

The best online creative writing classes keep you motivated and accountable.

Every instructor works differently, but you can expect the following in a creative writing class:

  • Creative writing prompts
  • Daily journaling assignments
  • Helpful revisions
  • Inspirational readings
  • Ideas to combat writer’s block
  • Different opinions on how to write creatively

Some courses are even designed to motivate you, such as our course Write Your Novel! The Workshop With Jack. Sometimes, the biggest struggle is simply to begin, and creative writing courses help you do that.

9. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Jumpstart a Writing Habit

The best online creative writing courses will get you into a writing habit. By combining lectures with thought-provoking assignments, one of the primary goals of a writing course is simply to get you writing.

You’ll gain the most from your creative writing courses if you block out the time to write every day.

To make the most of your creative writing classes, try to find time to write every day. It’s best to write at the same time every day, but if your schedule doesn’t allow this, sneak time where you can.

Here are some ways you can steal time as a writer:

  • Journal for 15 minutes before you go to bed.
  • Write while you wake up with your morning breakfast or coffee.
  • Keep a journal on your phone during work and lunch breaks.
  • Write on your commute to and from work. If you’re driving, consider keeping an audio journal, where you write by speaking into your phone’s recording device.
  • Write on your phone while running on the treadmill.
  • Put pen to paper while taking a bath.

These ideas won’t work for everyone, and it all depends on your schedule and lifestyle. Nonetheless, you’ll gain the most from your creative writing courses if you block out the time to write every day, no matter how brief that time is. And, your course should help you find the time to write!

10. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Broaden Your Literary Horizons

You need to read great writing to produce great writing. The best online creative writing courses will introduce you to great literature, giving you additional opportunities to explore the writing craft.

The best online creative writing courses will introduce you to great literature, giving you additional opportunities to explore the writing craft.

In creative writing classes, you might read both classic and contemporary literature. As writers, it’s good to have knowledge of both worlds. Classic literature introduces you to the bedrock of modern writing, including the devices and rhetorical strategies that make for effective poetry and prose.

Contemporary literature, on the other hand, gives you a glimpse into today’s literary zeitgeist. It’s important to understand today’s publishing landscape and the type of work that’s being published, even if you don’t intend to write like contemporary authors.

In fact, it’s better if you don’t try to write like anyone else! Reading other writers shows you what works in literature and what doesn’t, giving you opportunities to experiment with form and style. But, at the end of the day, your writing is for you, not for publishers or particular writing schools.

Use your creative writing classes as opportunities to explore literature, experiment with words, and discover what you’d like to write yourself.

reading in a creative writing course online

11. The Best Online Creative Writing Classes Offer a Healthy Creative Outlet

Creative writing classes offer a healthy outlet for your creativity and emotions.

A healthy writing space can supplement your emotional health and wellbeing.

How is that so? With a space to put thoughts to paper, many writers inevitably reach breakthroughs about their own feelings and experiences. This is true regardless of whether you write poetry, fiction, plays, articles, or creative nonfiction.

Now, even the best online creative writing courses can’t replace the benefits of therapy. But, a healthy writing space can certainly supplement your emotional health and wellbeing. Between the prompts, community, and writing habits that a creative writing class fosters, you’re sure to come away from your course with renewed emotional health.

12. The Best Online Creative Writing Courses Give You Next Steps

Your education doesn’t end at the end of your course. If anything, the best online creative writing courses are only the beginning of your writing journey!

The best online creative writing courses are only the beginning of your writing journey!

The best online creative writing courses give you opportunities for continuous growth. Those opportunities can take many forms, such as: a list of literary journals to submit to, further readings on a topic of interest, future creative writing classes, or even simply the instructor’s email.

If you’re ready to move on to the next level of your career, your instructor should provide you with next steps. And if you crave more learning, ask the instructor!

How to Make the Most of Online Creative Writing Courses

A creative writing course is much like life: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Being an active participant will teach you as much about creative writing as the instructor will, because engaging with language is how you grow as a writer. Actively working with suggestions and ideas, keeping a daily writing practice, and offering other students constructive feedback will all boost your creative writing skills.

A creative writing course is much like life: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Additionally, do your research before you enroll in the course, or you might end up taking a class that isn’t suited to your needs. Look up the instructor for the course, their teaching style and previous publications, and how much experience they have as a writing coach. If they don’t seem well suited towards your learning style, they might develop your creative writing skills, and they won’t be worth the cost.

Find the Best Online Creative Writing Courses at Writers.com!

Are you looking for a writing community? Are you ready to get writing? Check out some of the upcoming courses at Writers.com, the oldest creative writing school on the internet.

Sean Glatch

Sean Glatch is a poet, storyteller, and screenwriter based in New York City. His work has appeared in 8Poems, The Poetry Annals, Rising Phoenix Press, Ghost City Press, on local TV, and elsewhere. When he's not writing, which is often, he thinks he should be writing.

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