I Bit the Bullet and Took an Online Writing Class

Writing in a room of one's own, as you can do in an online writing class - Pyragraph

Yep, I did it, and it has completely changed the way I write.

No, I didn’t read another awesome writing book or start writing with a quill dipped in ink (although now I want to).

I signed up for a writing class.

I held off on signing up for a while because I didn’t want to spend money on something I didn’t think I needed. I can sit down and bust out ten pages any day, even if the work quality is questionable. And basically all writing advice says the best way to learn to write is just write.

And classes with a teacher and weekly meetings range from about $400 to $700+. That’s expensive.

And yet, I dipped into my precious savings account a few weeks ago and said f*¢k it. After my month of non-stop NaNoWriMo marathoning, I was burned out. And now I was sitting on a 50,000-word “novel” that needed an editing overhaul. I had neither the willpower nor motivation to grapple with such a daunting project. A friend told me about a 20% off deal for a Mediabistro online novel-writing class, and I figured the universe was telling me to jump on it. The total for the class was $540 for 12 weeks, or $45 per week.

This online writing class has completely renewed my desire to write.

The class consists of three parts:

  1. Weekly discussion in a chat room, led by the teacher. I love that I don’t have to leave my bed to go to class.
  2. Weekly reading and feedback. Four students per week volunteer to submit up to 15 pages (double spaced) for critique. The class and teacher then post feedback.
  3. Writing. Perhaps the hardest part, since no one but me cares if I do it or not. Our teacher suggests that we write 30 double-spaced pages per week. I try my hardest to get an hour in each morning.

Like anything else in life, you get what you put into it. When a classmate takes the time to give me well-thought-out critique, I remember that and make sure to do the same for them.

I’ve also found I really enjoy reading other students’ work. Much of it is completely different from anything I’d normally read—vampires (in a good way), kidnapping, and the supernatural. I like seeing other writers hack away at ideas that once only lived in their heads.

If you’re on the fence about spending the money, I say go for it. Don’t wait around to magically improve your writing. Maybe you have the passion, but unless you get into the practice (and critique/feedback), you might as well print out the pages you write each day to throw them in the trash.

Coming in Part 2: Writing an outline, where my own theories about what’s best for me as a writer have been proven wrong, yet again.

Photo by Robertaaron Maes.

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