Tuesday, September 11, 2012

4 Free Writing Courses that can Improve your Craft

Lauren Baily, a freelance education writer, contacted me about posting on my blog, and she's posting on a topic close to my heart: improving the craft of writing. I'm incredibly grateful to the wonderful teachers I've had. Over the years, I've spent thousands of dollars attending workshops and conferences, taking courses at my local college, pursuing any avenue I could find to hone my craft. Now, instead of traveling hundreds of miles to find the right teachers, we have instant access to masters of the craft through the internet. 

Amazingly, some excellent online writing courses are free. Check out what Lauren has to say:
Some writers are just naturally-gifted and need little or no training to get their work published and read. Others, like myself, occasionally need some assistance from a few experts in the field to help guide them in the right direction and improve their overall writing skills. While there are exceptionally qualified English and Literature professors scattered across the nation to help students develop and nurture their craft, attending college can be a bit pricey.
Thankfully, there are some online courses offered for free that can do the trick as well. Some of the most prestigious institutions in the country like MIT and Harvard publish old coursework material as a gift to the community—granted you may have to purchase appropriate textbooks or readings to get the full experience and there are no professors to give you feedback or grant you credit, but completing some of the writing exercises and workshops outlined in the syllabi can help improve your skills for an array of various writers. 
If your main struggle with the whole writing process is finding your muse and uncovering that much needed "creative spark" within, then this appropriately titled undergraduate course can really help you establish some methods to help you unleash your creativity using various techniques. [MIT]
Fiction writing is one of the more popular ways to express one self, but it's also sometimes one of the more difficult—after all, there are several different genres within fiction writing an it can be quite daunting developing characters and choosing the appropriate setting for your piece of work. This class, the title suggests, is specifically designed to help you start writing fiction. It will teach you how to brainstorm as well as bring your ideas to life on paper. [The Open University]
If you're interested in learning how to master writing short stories, then this undergraduate course is perfect for you. Students will learn the tricks of the trade by not only completing various workshops that the professor has created, but will also learn from the "Greats"—the course heavily requires the analysis of different well-known short stories. [MIT]
Lastly, is the "video-lecture" course Modern Poetry. In this 9-part series, students will learn all there is to know about modern poetry including how to include the best techniques in your own writing as well as how to resolves various concerns by discussing some of the best poets in the industry including Yeats, Eliot and Frost. [Yale University]
Lauren Bailey is a freelance education writer for Bestcollegesonline.com, an alternative learning website. She welcomes your comments.


I'd gone to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee when Dave called me back to the television, back to the morning news. We watched in horror. Later that day I went to work at the airport--at the time I worked for a United Airlines carrier. All flights were cancelled. We had endless meetings. New security directives. Periodically, I cried.

The week continued, but we would never be the same.

People trickled into the airport, and some told stories of survival: a passenger who'd been scheduled for a meeting at the towers, but he'd called in sick, someone who had missed his plane...

My family lives in New York. My parents' young neighbor vanished in the towers--leaving a young wife and two-week-old daughter. My friend, Roy, lives in downtown Manhattan, and he told me the smell lingered for weeks, and you knew you were breathing in the dead. My stepmother bought rolls of plastic and tape to cover the basement window, stocked up on water, made plans for creating a shelter from future attacks.

My job at the airport changed radically. 

I remember September 11th every day.

My heart goes out to all the participants of that horrendous destruction--the victims and the perpetrators. For how can someone commit such a act horrendous without intense suffering? My heart goes out to all of us, because--even if we don't realize it--every one of us still feels the ripples of that act.

May all beings be free from suffering.

Peace. Peace. Peace.