Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Free Online Writing Courses

In recent years the UK has seen a marked rise in the phenomena that is the post graduate Creative Writing degree. Almost every major British University now has an MA in Creative Writing with such prestigious authors as Martin Amis, Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage all holding teaching positions. Yet the MA is not the most suitable route for many writers and during the same time period we have seen the rise of online writing courses.


There are a number of companies offering online courses for a range of fees.

Writing Classes (the highest ranking hit when I googled online creative writing courses) charge £150 for a ten week course. They say:

All our creative writing courses run for ten weeks (a free familiarisation week + nine conferences). During each conference participants read online notes, complete writing assignments and are encouraged to appraise each other's work.

This is pretty typical.


In addition to paid courses there is a growing band of free online courses.

Here are some examples I came across:

Creative Writing 101

Writing what you know (Open University)

Start writing fiction (Open University)

Approaching prose fiction (Open University)

What is poetry? (Open University)

Approaching poetry (Open University)

What is good writing? (Open University)

Introduction to Fiction (MIT)

Writing and Reading the Essay (MIT)

Steven Barnes' Free Writing Class

Three English courses from Yale

Publishing Poetry

Cleaning Your Copy

Proofreading Your Writing

Basic Grammar Skills

Conquering the Comma


So has anyone had experience of these online course? Worth the money/time?


  1. Wow I didn't realise there were so many online free writing courses available - I've only been aware of the paid OU courses. i'll certainly be checking them out and will report back!

  2. Nice post - I'm not familiar with any of these but will check 'em out. I liked Stephen King's "On Writing" very much.

    I hope other readers might have feedback, too.

  3. Chicklit - I think some courses are better than others. It would be nice to compile a list on the site of recommended courses.

    Jim Doran - On Writing is my favorite Stephen King book - essential reading for any writer.

  4. The free online OU writing courses are just extracts (usually a single chapter)from the paid courses. The full courses cost from £155 to £600. Having just taken A215 (Creative Writing) which is the sourse 'Writing What you know' is taken from, I can say they are well worth it and you can get full funding plus a grant if you are working towards a degree. They also do an Advanced Creative Writing course and are planning an MA.

    Of course if you are looking for a taster, these free Open Learn Extracts are excellent.