You’d think being on the road would inspire creativity. It does, but other tasks (exploring surroundings you may never see again) eat into the discipline part of the writing equation.
When I signed up for my first online class in early spring, I doubted I would stick with it. The only other online class I’d taken, in college, was a statistics class. I dropped out and took one of those “Incomplete” grades.
Writing classes are different. I’ve found, to my surprise, that they work—as in, they force fingers to keyboard, they coerce output. In an ideal scenario, you learn more craft, meet people and finish things. I’m still working on the latter.
Here’s a breakdown of the classes I’ve taken.
Lighthouse Writers Workshop
In a sentence: Challenged me to up the ante on comprehension of craft.
Summary: As a former Writerspace member, I have ties to the Lighthouse, Denver’s literary center, and appreciate their dedication to creating better writers (which they do, often). The small size of this class meant that students got to know each other as people and writers. With one reading assignment per week, one piece to workshop and one writing assignment, it can be immersive, but you can also opt to only workshop the one piece per week and pass on the rest. Two of your pieces get workshopped in this 8-week course. The teacher was incredibly responsive and posed challenging questions that helped me better understand the material. The reading assignments were well-curated and varied. I plan to take it again, because I like the personal attention and the small size that lets you get to know people. Note that you should sign up early to seal your spot.
Price: $310 w/annual $50 membership, otherwise $340
Duration: 8 weeks
Where to find out more: https://lighthousewriters.org
Structure of a Short Story
In a sentence: Helped me learn one thing well.
Summary: In one intense week (or two, for those that needed more time), One Story Co-Founder and Editor in Chief Hannah Tinti broke down the structure of a short story into easy and manageable steps, and gave brilliantly conceived assignments to help us understand it. One lesson and one assignment come out every day for a week. You can either keep up with assignments in real-time, or take another week to finish it all: the class is live for two weeks.
I loved the focus of this class, and the format was really effective—the way Hannah chose to teach and align her presentations with each lesson. The class was very affordable. The software platform they used made it hard to track ongoing conversations in this class of 300+ students, so I focused on individual study rather than forming relationships. I’d take this class or another from One Story again in a heartbeat.
Price: $60 for members, $75 non-members
Duration: 1-2 weeks
Where to find out more: Sign up for One Story’s newsletter, or keep an eye on their events tab.
Lit Star Training
In a sentence: Supportive, fun forum that inspired surprising writing.
Summary: If you’ve read Gore’s writing, it’s always fresh and alive, and that’s how this workshop is, too. Literary Kitchen is an honest and inspiring forum for women in particular, a group of strangers that in short order feel like a tribe of sisters. It had a powerful effect on my creativity and motivation. One writing prompt per week (or just send out whatever you’re working on), and three people plus Gore give feedback. She also sends you one optional quick assignment every weekend to get your juices flowing. I liked Gore’s writing assignments so much that I ended up following the prompts every week, rather than having existing work reviewed, because the prompts got me thinking differently and really upped the energy in my writing. The class plucked me out of my motivational sludge in short order, and I relished it for that.
Duration: 8 weeks
Where to find out more: Go to the upcoming courses section of Literary Kitchen.