Written by A Guest Author August 19th, 2021

Why Writers Should Take Online Writing Classes

By Nancy Franklin

There is nothing like staring at a blank screen for hours on end, especially if you’re a beginning writer. If you find yourself procrastinating in ways that range from obsessively checking Facebook and Instagram, hitting the delete key on everything you’ve written, to wearing a path to the refrigerator for snacks, taking a writing class may be just the thing to jump-start your writing success.

It’s never too late to learn!

There are seminars and classes in every genre—from poetry and young adult fiction to science fiction, romance, comedy and satire. Simply Google what you’re most interested in (Satire Writing and Novel Writing Classes for example) and see what pops up. Frankly, there are so many interesting subjects that it might be hard to know where to start. But don’t procrastinate! Choose one!

My first seminar cost $25. My subsequent classes were more expensive. Most classes I considered were reasonably priced; some could be paid for in installments or offered scholarships. If a class was too expensive, I looked for similar, less expensive or free classes.

The old adage that “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach” goes by the wayside with writing classes. Most classes are taught by professional writers who are still actively pursuing their writing careers. They genuinely want to help their fellow writers and will often feature well-known guests who share important tips about aspects of their work or the profession—from developing characters to finding agents and publishers. It’s easy to compare curriculums, read comments from previous students, and review the instructors’ credentials online, and I encourage you to do so.

Some of the more extensive seminars or symposiums can have attendance at 50-150+ attendees, but look for a Q&A segment for each symposium or seminar. Many instructors I had provided personal emails if students had additional questions.

Most of the more structured, on-demand online classes are small, between 15-20 people, so it’s likely you’ll  get more personal interaction. Each week’s course was posted on a certain day and you had a full week to review the course and complete homework. The best thing about online courses is they’re all about you; you can attend any time, day or night, at your convenience. It doesn’t matter if you are naked, have a toddler adhered to your leg, or have bed head from just waking up from your midday nap. No one can see you! You simply log in and resume or review the course at your leisure.

Homework means you’re writing!

I can’t say enough about the importance of homework. If you’re lucky, each week you’ll have some to do. Whether it’s writing actual pieces for submission or review, your short bio (that gets attached to your published pieces!), your resume or developing your social media presence, having that assignment always meant that I had something to write and submit each week. This is not only a great way to keep from procrastinating but it also got me into the habit of writing.

You can’t write in a vacuum (Besides, it’s dusty in the vacuum bag!)

If you’re not reading others’ work in your genre, chances are your writing will be stale and musty. But with classes, you’re learning about what’s new and what’s happening in your particular genre. You’re reading your fellow classmates’ work. And they are reading yours.

Admittedly, it’s a bit scary to submit your work for feedback, but this is the best way to know what’s working and what’s not. Feedback is designed to be positive, encouraging, and helpful. It’s a good way of seeing your writing from someone else’s perspective. It may not change what you’ve written, but it’s certainly helpful to have suggestions and thoughts on improving your piece.

Network, network, network!

With classes, you’re developing your network! Your classmates come from all walks of life, all ages, and all locations around the world. I still keep in touch with many of my classmates. We share information about publications accepting submissions, new classes to take, and continue to provide feedback and encouragement on each other’s new pieces. We also send hearty congratulations when one of us is published.

Since taking my first class at the start of 2020, I have been published over 30 times in online publications, so I know classes have helped me. Maybe a few classes is all you need, too!

Bio: Nancy Franklin writes about life’s absurdities wherever and whenever she finds them. She has been published in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Daily Breeze and satire sites including Slackjaw, Points In Case and The Belladonna. For more of her work, visit her website at www.mirthquakes.com or on Twitter @mirthquakes_.


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