The 10 Best Online Creative Writing Classes of 2022 – Intelligent

The stereotype of the writer starving in their garret while waiting for inspiration to strike is far from the truth for today’s authors. Writers work in many fields, and the best of them get where they are through education and practice. A good writing course will feature a knowledgeable instructor, along with the opportunity to practice the skills they are teaching. To help you determine the best one for your own needs, we’ve sifted through the top options and reviewed the 10 best online writing courses below.

Our Ranking Criteria

The best online writing courses offer you the chance to take your natural writing skills and shape them into a form that will open the doors in your chosen field. Whether you want to pen tv sitcom scripts or write the next great American novel, the best online writing course for you will take you further than you would be able to go on your own, helping you develop professional-level skills that will allow you to obtain the job of your choice. We based our decisions for the best courses on the following criteria.

Basic Ranking Criteria

There’s no one factor that makes a writing course the best. Instead we looked at multiple aspects for each of 74 online classes and factored them all into our final ranking. In our first pass, we looked at basic ranking criteria:

Time to complete. Although it’s important to have the time you need to thoroughly understand what you’re learning, no one wants to spend more time in class than is necessary. Some of our chosen classes are self-paced, others take less than an hour to one year.

Prerequisites required. None of our finalists has any prerequisites, which means that anyone with a basic understanding of the English language can participate and learn. If you do have previous writing experience, all the better — but it’s not necessary.

Flexible schedule. All but two of our choices feature a flexible schedule. Your life is busy, and for most people it is difficult to have to sign into the course at a specific time. Eight of our chosen courses allow you to take the classes and do the work as you are able, at a time that’s convenient for you.

Certificate of completion. A certificate of completion is not standard for writing courses. However, if one is available, it is often a plus to add the certificate to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Advanced Ranking Criteria

Once we reviewed results for the basic ranking criteria, we looked at more advanced features which are specific to the topics of the courses. Since many of our finalists have different focuses (such as children’s literature or creative writing), we were more concerned that they each covered their topic completely, rather than covering the same things as the other courses.

  • The course thoroughly covers the material needed for an understanding of the topic.
  • Instructors have solid credentials in the field they are teaching.
  • The course includes materials that are appropriate to someone without skills or training in that area.
  • The course includes opportunities for students to practice their writing skills.
  • Instructors are personable and engaging.
  • Alumni of the course are equipped to write at a beginning professional level.
  • Graduates of the course have landed good jobs in their field.
  • The course does not require software beyond a basic writing program such as Microsoft Word.
  • Goals for the course are clear from the beginning.

10 Best Online Writing Courses Courses or Bootcamps

Coursera
Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University

Creative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan UniversityCreative Writing Specialization by Wesleyan University

Intelligent Award: Top Pick

Coursera’s business model is somewhat different from many online education companies. It partners with established colleges and universities to offer classes at the higher-ed level. You don’t earn college credit for many courses, but can gain valuable certificates by completing specializations. The Creative Writing specialization consists of five courses that focus on three genres: short story, narrative essay, and memoir. Within those genres, you’ll learn about crafting characters and settings, writing descriptions, and developing your style, followed by a capstone class that will result in a completed story, essay or memoir. Throughout the specialization, you’ll have access to peer readers who can critique your work and suggest improvements. The course is taught by faculty at Wesleyan University who are published authors and trained in the creative writing process.

  • Price: $49/month
  • Time to complete: 3-6 months
  • Prerequisites required: None
  • Flexible schedule: Yes
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: Yes

Who should take this course? This course is best for writers wishing to jumpstart or fire up their creative projects with college-level coursework.

What we like
What we don’t like

Distinguished university-level faculty
No instructor feedback

7-day free trial when signing up

Financial aid is available

Learn more

 

Udemy
Secret Sauce of Great Writing

Secret Sauce of Great Writing on UdemySecret Sauce of Great Writing on Udemy

Intelligent Award: Most Affordable

One of the better-known names in the online education industry, Udemy offers both paid and free courses, and, as of April 2021, had more than 40 million students. As you might imagine, an undertaking that vast will have a broad range of quality among its products. One of the company’s many courses on writing, The Secret Sauce of Great Writing stands out. Taught by former Wall Street Journal editor Shani Raja, the class focuses on what Raja believes are the four ingredients of good writing: simplicity, clarity, elegance, and evocativeness. Understanding and using these four ingredients, Raja says, will take your writing from the mundane to the inspiring. And at this price — it’s free! — and with a minimal time commitment (the course runs less than an hour), it is a great way to give your writing a boost and possibly learn some techniques that can enhance your output, whether you’re writing press releases or your autobiography.

  • Price: Free
  • Time to complete: 41 minutes
  • Prerequisites required: None
  • Flexible schedule: Yes
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: No

Who should take this course? Anyone looking for a short, inspirational course at no cost.

What we like
What we don’t like

Little time commitment needed
No interaction with instructor

Course available at no cost

Includes exercises

Learn more

 

MasterClass
Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television

Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television on MasterClassShonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television on MasterClass

Intelligent Award: Best for Multimedia Writing

Our top pick from MasterClass is Shonda Rhimes MasterClass on writing for television, although there are a number of excellent options for writers, including courses taught by Neil Gaiman, David Sedaris, and Joyce Carol Oates. Rhimes packs a lot into her 30 lessons, including how to create a compelling character, script structure, and writing authentic dialogue. But she also takes it beyond writing instruction, discussing editing, breaking into the industry, and showrunning, among other TV-centric topics. Your annual membership to MasterClass also gives you access to a pdf workbook and the opportunity to download the classes and watch them offline. Rhimes is one of the biggest names in television today and an engaging speaker who seems to relish letting learners in on all the secrets that got her to where she is today.

  • Price: $180 annual membership (access to 100+ classes)
  • Time to complete: Self-paced
  • Prerequisites required: None
  • Flexible schedule: Yes
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: No

Who should take this course? Best for those with some script-writing experience, or anyone who wants to try their luck with the notoriously-difficult-to-break-into world of TV writing.

What we like
What we don’t like

30-day guarantee
Classes are, on average, only 10 minutes long

Instructors at the top of their field

Subscription includes 100+ courses

Learn more

 

The Novelry
Writing for Children

Writing for Children on The NovelryWriting for Children on The Novelry

Intelligent Award: Best for Children’s Literature

The Novelry offers several programs for children’s writers, ranging from the Classic Course Box Set, which allows you to work through 45 lessons at your own speed for $365, up to The Book in a Year Plan, which guides you from planning, creating, and writing a children’s novel to publishing within a year (costs $1,999). The latter includes nine one-on-one sessions with a children’s fiction tutor to help you shape your creation — a valuable benefit for budding writers. An interactive platform allows you to ask questions or add comments online. Classes are 15-20 minutes in length, and the company recommends that you allow one hour a day for your writing. The platform keeps track of your progress and offers feedback as you go.

  • Price: $365 to $1,999
  • Time to complete. Self-paced; one year accessibility
  • Prerequisites required. None
  • Flexible schedule: Yes
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: Yes

Who should take this course? If you already have a great plan for a novel, the Book in a Year plan is ideal. If you’re still searching for an idea on which you can build a novel, try the Classic Course.

What we like
What we don’t like

45 lessons
Best for those who already have a book idea

Created by a Booker-listed author

One-on-one mentoring available

Learn more

 

Writer’s Digest University
Creative Writing 101

Writer's Digest UniversityWriter's Digest University

Intelligent Award: Best for Beginners

If you are at the very start of your writing career, you should consider checking out Writer’s Digest University. A venerable name in the writing world, Writer’s Digest has been publishing a magazine for writers since 1920, and it has the professional chops to offer solid, comprehensive courses to both beginners and experienced writers. Creative Writing 101 is geared toward those who have an idea and the urge to write, but are not sure where to begin. The classes lead you in shaping your protagonist and antagonist and fleshing out the plot of the story while addressing common writerly concerns such as determining point of view and how to motivate yourself to write. The 12 sessions are available for $579.99, which is a bit on the steep side for what you receive, but the quality of the courses is generally excellent.

  • Price: $579.99
  • Time to complete: 12 weeks
  • Prerequisites required: None
  • Flexible schedule: Yes
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: No

Who should take this course? Those who are at the beginning of their writing career without a strong sense of direction. It’s also good for established writers who would like a refresher on topics such as imagery and dialogue.

What we like
What we don’t like

Instructor feedback on written assignments
Only 12 sessions

Award-winning instructor
Cost is at the high end for a single course

Free writing resources available

Learn more

 

Two Weeks to Your Best Children's Book on BookfoxTwo Weeks to Your Best Children's Book on Bookfox

Intelligent Award: Best Editorial Support

Bookfox is the brainchild of John Matthew Fox, a former college professor, editor, and writer, who well understands the ins and outs of the publishing world. His courses, which include Two Weeks to Your Best Children’s Book, are packed with information. They delve far beyond the actual writing process, and include how to generate book ideas, the revision process, and, perhaps most importantly, how to successfully publish your book. He also touches on topics including finding an illustrator and agent as well as what you should know if you decide to self-publish. Fox himself teaches each class. The self-paced children’s book class has 14 lessons, which take anywhere from two weeks up to one year. As a one-man operation, Bookfox doesn’t have the highly-polished look and feel of companies like MasterClass, but Fox’s knowledge base more than makes up for his website’s lack of bells and whistles.

  • Price: $149
  • Time to complete: Up to one year
  • Prerequisites required: None
  • Flexible schedule: Yes
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: Yes

Who should take this course? Anyone who wants comprehensive information on the editorial and publishing process.

What we like
What we don’t like

Instructor access for questions
Video editing is clumsy

Downloadable resources
Limited course options

Money-back guarantee

Learn more

 

CreativeLive
Writing Your Story

Writing Your Story on CreativeLiveWriting Your Story on CreativeLive

Intelligent Award: Best for Memoir Writing

CreativeLive’s Memoir course, called “Writing Your Story,” is taught by celebrated novelist and memorist Joyce Maynard, who first came to public recognition following her account of her affair with J.D. Salinger, At Home in the World. She’s written several other books of an autobiographical nature along with 11 novels. Her teaching style is engaging and idiosyncratic, and involves numerous stories from her own life. If that piques your curiosity, you’ll find her course engaging and informative, with 26 lessons that range from 5-30 minutes long and discuss how to determine what to write, how to write it, and how to handle criticism and rejection. If you enjoy Maynard’s style of teaching, note that there are several other courses taught by her, including How to Write a Full-Length Memoir and How to Write a Personal Essay.

  • Price: $11/month for pass that includes 1500+ classes; $89 if you purchase just this class
  • Time to complete: Five hours, 19 minutes spread over 26 lessons
  • Prerequisites required: None
  • Flexible schedule: Yes
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: No

Who should take this course? A great option for anyone who wants to tell their own story.

What we like
What we don’t like

Lifetime access
Idiosyncratic teaching style

Fast track option available
Few supplementary materials

Instructor is a gifted writer

Learn more

 

Grammar Lion
A Grammar Refresher for All Writers & Editors

A Grammar Refresher for All Writers & Editors on Grammar LionA Grammar Refresher for All Writers & Editors on Grammar Lion

Intelligent Award: Best for Grammar Review

Having a great story to tell is important, but unless you have the basic building blocks of writing, you won’t be able to tell it. This means paying attention to grammar, and it’s what the Grammar Lion Grammar Refresher course offers. Appropriate both for those who need to learn about grammar as well as accomplished writers looking for a review of basic material, the course starts out by identifying the parts of speech, reviews sentence structure, delves into verb forms, and discusses shifts in person, tense, and structure. One whole lesson is given to matters of clarity and logic, and course extras include helpful resources and a favorite books list. The instructor is Ellen Feld, an author, editor, and educator who has taught more than 44,000 students in her online grammar refresher courses. You can connect to Feld via a discussion forum or by private email. She also offers one-on-one editing services for an additional fee.

  • Price: $67
  • Time to complete: 12 weeks
  • Prerequisites required: None
  • Flexible schedule: Yes
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: Yes

Who should take this course? Beginners who are learning grammar for the first time and experienced writers who need a refresh in the building blocks of language.

What we like
What we don’t like

Easy to engage with instructor
Only 12 weeks of access

Discussion forum allows peer review

ESL-friendly

Learn more

 

LitReactor
Writing the Weird

Writing the Weird on LitReactorWriting the Weird on LitReactor

Intelligent Award: Best Online Community

LitReactor’s courses are hip and decidedly off-center. Take, for example, the course Writing the Weird, taught by J.S. Breukelaar, a finalist for the Ladies of Horror Fiction award and author of Collision. Enrollment is limited to 16 students, who take a deep dive into surreal, fantastic, and otherwise bizarre literature to find and write the human elements that make a story stand out. The four week course is divided into four topics: humanity, structure, setting, and resolution. You’ll explore the work of writers from Kelly Link to Matt Bell, and discover how conventional narrative can be a starting point for delving into innovative and speculative fiction. Each week you’ll be given writing assignments that will be critiqued by Breukelaar and your classmates, and in the fourth and last week, you’ll develop a story from start to finish based on what you’ve learned. Depending on your job title, this class may be the least likely to get you a raise. But it just may be the most fun of all our finalists.

  • Price: $350
  • Time to complete: 4 weeks
  • Prerequisites required: None
  • Flexible schedule: Yes
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: No

Who should take this course? Anyone with a taste for the off-beat and a willingness to stretch themselves and think outside of the box.

What we like
What we don’t like

Instructor feedback available
Lack of practical info on publishing

Includes judgement-free peer discussions

Active online community

Learn more

 

Gotham Writers Workshop
Fiction Writing Level 1

Fiction Writing Level 1 on Gotham Writers WorkshopFiction Writing Level 1 on Gotham Writers Workshop

Intelligent Award: Best Supporting Materials

Gotham Writers Workshop has made a name for itself in the NYC region with in-person and Zoom classes, but it also offers well-regarded online classes. Level I classes, such as Fiction Writing I, max out with 16 students per class, so you are guaranteed personal attention from the instructor. Level II and III classes (which include the continuation of the Fiction Writing series), have a maximum of 14 students. You can access each class and do the accompanying exercises anytime during the week for the 10 week workshops. The online interface makes it easy to submit work and read critiques from instructors and fellow students. Lessons are text-based rather than video, and there is a wealth of accompanying materials, such as reading lists and podcasts, to help you extend your learning experience.

  • Price: Registration fee: $25; Online: $409; Returning students: $379; One-on-one: $1,745
  • Time to complete: 10 weeks
  • Prerequisites required: None
  • Flexible schedule: Modified flex time, with work needing to be completed within a week
  • Includes verified certificate of completion: No

Who should take this course? Anyone who prefers text-based lessons; those who want to interact personally with their instructor and peers.

What we like
What we don’t like

Good interaction with instructor, other students
Class doesn’t feature videos

Class size is small

Excellent computer interface.

Learn more

 

Online Course Comparison Chart

Tips for Succeeding in an Online Writing Course

1. Consider the cost

How much do online writing classes cost?

Online writing courses are offered at a broad range of price points, our cheapest option is free, and the highest is nearly $2K. Generally, the more personal one-on-one time you have with an editor or your instructor, the more you’ll pay. LitReactor, for example, has a vibrant online community and regular feedback from your instructor, and costs $350 for the roughly four-week class.

Many of our choices are paid for in one lump sum when you sign up. A few, however, follow Coursera’s model of charging by the month or year. Also, keep in mind that some of our choices, such as MasterClass, give you access to all courses for the membership fee. So, if you have the time and interest, your $180 annual fee at MasterClass could net you literally dozens of courses in a range of topics.

Will my employer pay for me to take the course?

If you work in the communications industry, or in any industry that values good, clear writing skills, you may be able to have all or part of your writing course fees paid for by your employer, especially if you can show them how the course will benefit them. It’s worth asking your boss or your HR supervisor if they will help out with the cost.

2. Get your tech squared away

You shouldn’t need any special software or hardware to take an online writing course. You will need a good internet connection and a computer that is loaded with the most recent version of your chosen browser and system files. Most courses are formatted to work on both desktop computers and other devices, such as your tablet or smartphone.  One handy app if you use Google Chrome is the company’s Video Speed Controller, which allows you to speed up or slow down HTML5 video, as needed.

3. Use the right study resources

One resource that many writers swear by is a good style guide. There are several of these, and you can generally find out which style guide your company uses with a quick question to the marketing or communications department. Here are the most common:

  • Associated Press Stylebook — now in its 55th edition, this is the granddaddy of them all. Used by journalists, it is also the favored choice for much web writing as well as some academia.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style — a wealth of information, the 17th edition features chapters on grammar and usage, a glossary of problematic words, and extensive information on citing sources.
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association — in its 7th edition, this style guide is used extensively by researchers and those in science and health care.

Frequently Asked Questions About Writing Courses

What jobs can you get after completing a writing course?

Few people are full-time authors. But the vast majority of professions, from legal work to health care, require those who can write clearly and concisely. According to the government’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, a full-time writer earns an average of $67,120 a year — but you can earn significantly more, depending on your job skills and professional area.

Are there free online writing courses?

Yes. In fact, one of our ten best choices is Udemy, which offers a broad range of free courses. In general, however, the old adage about how you get what you pay for holds true — the best, most well-designed courses will usually have a cost attached to them.

How long is the average online writing course?

Online writing courses vary from less than an hour to up to a year. Since most offer a flexible schedule, you can do them when you have time available. Keep in mind that in addition to lectures you’ll be watching or reading, you may also have exercises to complete, which take additional time.

Are online writing courses worth it?

They can be. Like many things in life, you will get as much out of it as you put into it. If you are taking a course for personal enrichment, all our chosen courses should benefit you. If you’re looking for professional advancement, a course with a certificate of completion may be a good idea, so you can show the certificate to your boss when done.

What are the best online writing courses?

There are probably hundreds of online writing courses — we looked at nearly 75 for this review. The best online writing courses are the ones we’ve featured above. The best writing course for your needs will depend on what you are looking to get out of it. If you’re hoping to write a best-selling children’s book, for example, the best writing class might not be Shonda Rhimes’ MasterClass. You’d be better off choosing an option like The Novelry’s program or John Matthew Fox’s Bookfox.