We have an informal staff motto: “There are two kinds of people: writers, and budding writers.” In other words, if you have something to say—something to share with the world—then you can write, and an online creative writing course can help.
Online creative writing classes can help you hone your craft in any creative writing form, from poetry to short story to novel writing to memoir. An important question, though, is what to look for in the online writing courses you choose. Four key features to look for are:
- A strong community of like-minded writers.
- A well-reviewed provider with a track record of delivering value to students.
- Proven instructors that are both well-published in their discipline and experienced educators.
- Effective feedback, from both instructors and fellow students.
Read on to learn more about what differentiates a mediocre online creative writing workshop from a great one.
What to look for in online creative writing courses for adults
1. A strong community
Look for strong community features in the online creative writing workshops you choose. There are several aspects of a strong community, such as teacher-student relationships, student-student relationships, and networking opportunities with writers.
Smaller classes mean that there’s potential to build rapport and a professional relationship with your teacher. Small classes also foster positive, working relationships amongst students. One of the major benefits of having a small class is that there’s the potential for sharing current pieces of writing and getting valuable insight and feedback from other students, who are also writers, in addition to the feedback from your teacher. The learning process can be a challenge to students as well, so these small online creative writing courses also allow the opportunity for students to share their struggles, successes, and little sparks of inspiration.
A strong alumni network means that there’s support following the completion of an online creative writing class. Seize the opportunity for generating new ideas, getting suggestions or feedback from fellow writers, and building possible links to publishing houses. With a strong alumni network, the possibilities are endless.
2. A well-reviewed provider
The company or institution that provides your online creative writing courses should be experienced, reputable, and well-reviewed. You should be as attentive to provider quality as if you were looking for an in-person course. It’s best if the online writing school you find has been in operation consistently for many years and has a large volume of positive student reviews.
A good place to start is the provider’s website; here you can learn more about the history of the provider, the student experience, and the experience of the teaching staff.
Then you may want to look online for reviews by real students who have completed courses. Many providers have their own reviews pages, or have reviews available on websites like Google or Facebook. A good sign of a reputable provider is that it has a great alumni network. This shows that the provider is held in high regard by its current students and alumni. If alumni enroll into another course once they’ve completed to continue their studies, it’s another great sign that an online creative writing school is meeting the expectations of its clientele.
3. Experienced, published instructors who love to teach
Before you sign up for a creative writing class online, be sure to have an in-depth look at the teacher. It’s important that the people teaching you are top-quality, published, have relevant experience, and are experienced teachers. The teacher should be published in the style of writing being taught, and you should be able to find some of his or her own work online. Bonus points if you really like or otherwise connect with his or her writing.
The teacher should be not only an experienced writer, but an experienced teacher of writing. Look for previous teaching experience, and ideally you should be able to find numerous positive student reviews of the teacher’s performance in a teaching role.
In sum, the more experienced the teacher—as both a writer and educator—the better.
4. Consistent, effective, and personalized feedback
Small classes also mean that there’s more personalized attention and feedback from experienced teachers. The feedback from teachers should be targeted to each student, level specific, and should include notes of advice and edits.
The teacher in an adult creative writing course should provide relevant feedback to students: consistently positive and encouraging feedback that also identifies personally relevant areas of improvement.
Specific feedback can also be helpful for people who’ve been writing for a long time and have developed troublesome patterns in their writing. Experienced teachers can point out any unknown “fossilized” areas in need of improvement. Identifying these habits can be one key to improving your writing.
The teacher should include notes of advice on each piece you submit, and should advise on making changes and edits to your work.
Lastly, there should be a strong culture of peer-to-peer feedback among students. Other students will often see things in your writing that you won’t, and both getting and giving feedback will
You’re ready to sign up for an online creative writing course
Whether you’re looking to write a novel, poetry, a memoir, or even to learn about the connection between writing and happiness, be sure to look for online writing classes with four features: a strong community, including lots of direct connection with fellow students, teachers, and an alumni network; an established and well-reviewed writing course provider; deeply experienced instructors who love to teach; and direct, relevant, useful feedback on each piece you submit.
If you can find these four things, the chances are you’ll have a wonderful time. If you’d like to see lots of upcoming courses that fit the bill: