Expressing creativity through writing is more accessible than ever thanks to the internet. With online creative writing programs, courses, communities, and self-publishing options, writers can develop their skills and find an audience from the comfort of home. If you want to dip your toes into creative writing, or take your talents to the next level, it’s easier than you think to get started online.
Formal Creative Writing Programs and Courses
If you’re looking for instruction and critique from professionals, online creative writing programs and courses are a great option. Many major colleges and universities now offer online creative writing degrees and certificates through their esteemed creative writing programs. For example, New York Times bestselling authors like Roxane Gay and Celeste Ng teach online writing courses through Northwestern University’s top-ranked creative writing program. With online courses, you can learn from big name authors and professors without needing to live near campus.
Another route is massive open online courses (MOOCs) through platforms like Coursera, edX, Udemy, and MasterClass. These classes allow you to learn the craft from the best in the business. Want to study graphic novels and comic books? Take a course from the legendary graphic novel writer Art Spiegelman. Have a novel idea but need plotting help? Bestselling author James Patterson offers a course on storytelling and writing a novel. Pick individual classes based on your interests and goals. Most MOOCs provide quizzes, assignments, and feedback from fellow students. This allows you to workshop your writing and improve critical thinking skills. Online courses also give you deadlines and accountability during the duration of the class.
In addition to formal programs, many good writers teach affordable online creative writing courses through their own websites. These classes offer a more intimate experience with personalized feedback. Do your research to find courses taught by published authors with strong teaching skills in your genre.
When evaluating creative writing classes, read course descriptions and syllabi closely. Make sure the course planning fits your current abilities while also challenging you to improve. Look for a balance of lectures, writing exercises, workshopping opportunities, and instructor feedback.
Submit Your Work to Literary Journals and Magazines
Once you have polished pieces to share, literary magazines and journals are a great way to get your creative writing published. Prestigious publications like The Paris Review, Tin House, McSweeney’s, and countless others accept online submissions from writers worldwide. Browse submission guidelines to find literary magazines and journals in your preferred genre and style. That may be anything from avant-garde poetry to sci-fi flash fiction.
Narrow down your list to target publications that seem like a good match. Then, carefully follow the magazines’ submission rules and formatting requirements. Most accept submissions through email or online forms on their website. Sending short, polished pieces gives you the best chance of catching an editor’s eye. Rejection is common, so persist and keep putting your best work out there. Securing a spot in a selective literary magazine or journal, whether print or online, is an esteemed accomplishment.
Self-Publishing Your Creative Writing Online
Want to share your writing while retaining creative control? Online self-publishing empowers authors to put their work out independently. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to publish ebooks that readers can buy with just a few clicks. Other popular platforms like Wattpad, Radish, and Leanpub help writers serialize novels, build fandoms, and earn money through micropayments.
Before going the self-publishing route, get feedback from critique groups to improve your work. Self-publishing online means you won’t get traditional marketing support. So writers have to work hard on promotion and find creative ways to connect with readers. Start building your online author platform through blogging, social media, participating in forums, and forming relationships with those interested in your niche.
Join Online Writing Communities for Feedback and Support
One of the best parts of online creative writing is the ability to share ideas and get critiques from fellow writers worldwide. Check Reddit for active creative writing subreddits like r/writing, r/WritersGroup, and r/DestructiveReaders. Set up a routine for giving feedback as well as receiving it. Online forums remove geography limitations, allowing you to learn from a diverse community.
Facebook writing groups also abound for everything from sci-fi to poetry. Search for ones relevant to your genre and interests. Introduce yourself and offer helpful critiques on others’ posts to become part of the group. Some online communities hold free workshops and critique nights over Zoom.
It takes thick skin to share writing and hear constructive criticism. But doing so will elevate your skills much faster. Don’t be shy about putting your work out to online groups who can provide valuable feedback.
Creative Writing Skills Matter in Many Fields
Pursuing online creative writing opportunities has benefits even for those not planning a novelist career. Skills like conveying complex ideas clearly, crafting narratives, and expanding your imagination translate broadly. That’s why creative writing majors from university programs like the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop have gone on to succeed in fields like law, business, medicine and more. Developing your unique writing voice and style builds confidence to share ideas. Online writing critique groups also strengthen critical thinking and communication abilities.
Mastering descriptive writing makes it easier to compose an engaging whitepaper, product page, or press release. Creative writing teaches us to express concepts and visions that are hard to explain logically. All fields need people who can write clearly to inform and inspire. Online writing courses and communities let you flex your creative muscles while benefiting your professional abilities.
Writing for Mental Health
An additional perk of online creative writing is it can reduce stress and anxiety. The simple act of writing accesses our right brain and activates relaxation responses. Just journaling for 15 minutes daily has been shown to boost mood and mental health. Online writing groups provide social connections to combat isolation. Sharing creative work gives a sense of purpose and pride. During turbulent times like the COVID-19 pandemic, creative outlets and communities offer meaningful ways to cope.
So if you’re seeking a new hobby to ease anxiety or depression, online creative writing can help. An online writing class provides structure and motivation. Consistent practice builds a beneficial ritual into your routine. Writing out thoughts, fears, and emotions brings relief. And receiving encouragement from online writing communities builds confidence. Consider online creative writing for your mental health, as well as expanding your skills.
Ways to Get Started Today with Online Creative Writing
If you feel inspired to explore online creative writing options, here are a few ideas to begin today:
- Search online writing courses and find one that fits your schedule. Sign up for a starting date a few weeks out to create anticipation. Consider both formal programs as well as individual classes taught by published writers.
- Make a list of literary magazines and journals you want to submit to. Read through current issues and highlighted pieces so you understand the style and voice.
- Start a daily journaling habit, even if it’s just freewriting stream-of-consciousness entries for 15 minutes. This builds momentum.
- Join a writers Facebook group or follow writing subreddits. Introduce yourself and start reading posts. Offer thoughtful critiques on others’ work.
- Check submission calls from online literary journals for contests and themed issues. These provide opportunities to submit on intriguing topics.
- Commit to a writing routine that works for you – perhaps waking up 30 minutes early or using lunch breaks. Consistency moves your skills forward.
- Look into graduate programs in creative writing if you want to take your education further. Many leading programs offer online degrees, certificates, and individual classes.
- Research grants or fellowships like the National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowships. These provide funding for writers to focus on independent projects.
Remember there is no one right path into online creative writing. Experiment to find what excites you and fits your lifestyle. Don’t put pressure on yourself to master fiction or publish a novel immediately. Enjoy the creative process and community. With online resources, it’s simple and rewarding to start developing your writing talents today.