Taking creative writing classes in college really lit a fire in me for exploring creative writing theory and practice (beyond just whatever I word-vomit on paper and screen).
But I’m not in college anymore!
But I still want to take classes!
But I can’t commit to something in person!
Also, I’m broke and in serious school debt.
I turned to my last resort (jk, it’s always the first thing I do) – searching the internet!
I have looked into various different ways of taking free writing “classes” online to keep up a writing practice and I’ve found that, for me, structure is key.
I can’t do self-driven classes that you start whenever, finish whenever, without some kind of set dates and deadlines.
I would start strong, and then fall off the wagon in about a week.
Then I found the CalArts Poetry Writing Workshop on Coursera. Love!
This course is 6 weeks long, and each week has a set of videos and a quiz about various components of poetry: meter, rhyme, rhythm, etc.
Beyond that, there are 2 prompts each week to try to implement the ideas in the lessons.
Twice in the course, you can submit a poem from one of the prompts to have two of your peers comment and review.
(You also have to review two of your peer’s poems, of course.)
While this is an online course, and no one is really on you to complete the work so you have to have some self-discipline, the deadlines provide the structure needed to keep up with the work.
Other courses do not have this structure.
I have found that I need to stay away from “self-directed” learning courses that provide a syllabus and materials and you can do the work whenever.
If there is no feedback, I can’t do it.
Some courses on Coursera are a bit like this.
There is a start date, and discussion threads to talk to classmates, but with so many people in a course (I had one with about 700 people it seemed), it’s difficult to really build a relationship with anyone.
There is no guaranteed teacher interaction, and I can not do it.
Overall, online classes, especially free online “classes” are hit and miss. Really read the expectations and see if the work is something you can do by yourself.
Every person has individual needs, so judge for yourself.
Also, just try what I did – give the class a shot. If it’s free, you don’t have anything to lose.
(Just don’t try to stick to a class you dislike. Feel free to stop and do something actually helpful to you.)
If you know any great online classes, let me know!
I would encourage you to check out CalArts on Coursera if you want to explore poetry!