Online classes may seem a bit too informal or unusual to become of any use to an aspiring writer. But they can be quite useful and helpful, especially for those without any resources.
As writers say, everyone has at least one good story to tell. The only problem one has to overcome when trying to tell that story is the telling itself—especially when one’s form of choice for telling the story is writing. Many people think that writing is easy. However, the only people who would say writing is easy are those who do not know how to write.
Indeed, writing can be quite daunting, but it’s not exactly an art form that is hard to learn and understand (of course, one’s level of learning and understanding, as well one’s mastery of the skill, is a different story altogether). For one, there are online writing classes that can help beginners with their writing endeavors. Online classes may seem a bit to informal or too unusual to become of any use to an aspiring writer. But they can be quite useful and helpful, especially for those without any resources.
The benefits of online courses
First off, online writing classes (or any online classes in general) are cheaper than the traditional college classes. Online courses should not be used as a replacement for college education (unless the course is a full, accredited course). However, they are useful for purposes such as learning a specific skill or interest (such as writing). In any case, comparatively speaking, online writing courses cost less, even if you simply compare it to just one course from a college or university. But since universities usually do not offer single courses, the cost will be significantly different.
But more than the cost, writing courses online offer focus and attention a physical, traditional class may not be able to provide. This has something to do with the medium. With the internet, the focus is all about the writing. Traditional education requires a student to take minor subjects—subjects that are not remotely connected to writing. And while any kind of influence or knowledge is beneficial in writing, do you really want to waste time taking math courses while you can be reading or writing? Also, online classes are more specialized. Writing courses are great online because it doesn’t really require anything beyond the readings and the writing exercise. In fact, you can learn writing without any supervision; writing courses only make then easier.
This brings us to another advantage of online writing classes—the teachers. With traditional schools, you are stuck with the professors or teachers employed by the school. However, you have so much more choices when it comes to online courses. You can choose the teacher according your preference (his credentials, his experience, his specialty). Universities allow professors to teach a writing subject as long as they are qualified according to their academic qualifications and not their writing credentials. And with writing, the experience is very important. A non-writer teacher can only teach the technical and theoretical side of writing (something you can learn from books). With online courses, you can choose your teachers according to your standards.
Your own standards and qualifications are measured here. In traditional classes, the skill level of the students is hardly considered. On the other hand, while a writing course online per se may not cater to everyone, writing courses online in general do cater to everyone. There are courses for beginners and courses for professionals. This allows you to gauge your skill level and assess what kind of writing class will cater to your skills. The specialization is also key here, as there are writing classes available for almost any writing discipline. Journalism , fiction writing, poetry, non-fiction, technical writing—everything is catered.
How to find one?
So how do you find online writing classes?
There are a number of traditional universities that offer online writing classes. Some of them are even for free. For instance, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers writing courses for both undergraduates and graduates. The free classes are less formal than the paid ones, but these writing courses are great alternatives and should be considered. Beginners can take advantage of the MIT’s materials, created especially by their able and qualified faculty. Other universities in America and the United Kingdom offer online writing courses as well.
If you want something more organized, there are several websites offering such classes. Of courses, before enrolling, you need to check out some things first: the curriculum or the program, the instructor or teacher, and the mode of the course. Some writing courses are purely theoretical in nature (where the teacher simply instructs students about concepts, similar to how classroom classes work), while others are purely workshop in form (where students submit works and everyone, including the teacher, critiques on the work). It is best to go for a course that works on both forms. Needless to say, the instructor’s credentials should be measured. You should be able to answer the question: “Why makes him qualified to teach me?” After all, you wouldn’t ask a basketball player to teach you how to swim. Granted, he may know how to swim, but would that be enough to teach you something you can use? Writing is a specialized skill; you need someone who knows what he is doing/
Some people may say that you wouldn’t need writing classes to learn the art of writing. As mentioned earlier, this is true. Many professionals say all you need to learn how to write is to read, read, read—and write. But guidance is also necessary. As a beginner, you need someone to tell you what is wrong and what is right not just in your writing but in any form of writing regardless of the author. You need to know what is good writing or good literature and what makes them good. You need to know what to read and what reading materials what help you with your writing. At the very least, these are what online writing classes should and can do. Enrolling in such classes does not instantly make your writing. Instead, they give you the right tools so you can be one.