How it works
Our online writing courses are designed to help you develop your ideas, boost your creativity and take a professional approach to your writing. They are not MOOCs or video lectures; the focus is on practical learning in small groups guided by an expert tutor.
Taking a professional approach
Not everyone wants to learn for professional reasons, but we think it’s important to take a professional approach to writing from the outset.
That means taking the craft seriously whether seeking a traditional publishing deal, writing for self-expression, well-being, for work or for fun.
It’s also about understanding the context — who you are writing for, how the industry works, and how people expect you to interact with them — whether you’re writing a novel, briefing a client or running a writing group.
Why we teach online
We have studied, trialled and evaluated different ways of teaching writing online while tutoring degree, masters, CPD and recreational writing courses and while mentoring creative writers and in the workplace. We’re confident that our online teaching model is the most effective — and enjoyable — way to learn writing and story structure.
It allows you to work at your own pace…
We’ve found that learning about writing and story works best when you allow plenty of time for reflection and for lessons to sink in. The weekly, or fortnightly, structure gives you space to read and think between sessions, and to learn by sharing, reading and giving feedback on the work of your fellow students.
… while developing the discipline needed to be a writer
But we all need a little discipline to get started. So we set achievable writing deadlines to spur you on, and realistic goals to aim for — which helps you gauge your progress as a writer.
It takes the pressure off
Our courses are not like learning in school or university. We don’t set exams or unrealistic challenges, we don’t ask you to submit work to be graded by a teacher, or expect you to write something then stand in front of the class and read it aloud. We know that writers are often shy about sharing work and we want you to feel comfortable and supported at every step.
It’s more effective to work in a group
Sharing your ideas — and fears — about writing is more enjoyable than slogging away on your own, wondering if you’re doing it right. We only run small groups, so in addition to the guidance and support of your tutor, you’ll have invaluable input from fellow writers as you learn together.
Learning to write online is ideal for people juggling work with family life and you can log on at any time that suits you wherever you are in the world.
What’s more, our courses are accessible if you find face-to-face training tricky. Whether you live in a remote place, are unable to attend a classroom-based course, have a reading or writing challenge such as dyslexia, or simply feel shy about meeting new people.
We believe that none of these things should stop you from becoming a successful writer.
Is an online writing course for you?
If you haven’t studied since school, or are used to academic studies, you may find our approach to teaching writing different to what you’d expect.
We run our courses as online workshops. You’ll listen to lectures and watch short talks, enjoy guided reading and practical writing assignments and take part in discussions with your tutor and group. You’ll be writing from day one and will share your work with your group. We’ll show you how to hone your critical reading skills while developing your writing — because the best writers read like a writer and understand how essential it is to redraft and edit.
To see if you’re ready, ask yourself:
- Do I have at least the seed of an idea I would like to develop?
- Do I have time each week to commit to my learning?
- Am ready to share my work with fellow learners and tutors?
- Am I ready to be challenged and push myself?
- Do I have a computer with reliable internet access?
Collaborative workshops and writers’ peer groups hadn’t been invented when I was young. They’re a wonderful invention. They put the writer into a community of people all working at the same art, the kind of group musicians and painters and dancers have always had.
How will I learn?
Our online classroom looks and feels like a website. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be able to see your course and all the related learning materials (videos, podcasts, quizzes and writing assignments), as well as chat with your tutor and fellow students using the forums and chatrooms.
We design our courses to give you a mix of theory, practical assignments, discussion with other students in your group, and clear instructions on how to read each other’s work and give useful feedback notes. We take a step-by-step approach that helps build your knowledge gradually, as you develop and practise your writing skills.
We use a variety of course materials, exercises and workshop techniques to make sure your learning experience is not only practical, easy to follow and interesting, but also suits your individual learning style.
We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts.
You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.
You share your work with the group.
Your fellow learners read your work and give guided, professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor — a critical part of the writing process.
You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.
- Review and improve
You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.
The task of commenting on the work of others and having them comment on mine took the experience to a level I’d never before experienced or even imagined. Reading the work of others and the comments we made on one another’s work provided me with insights into my writing processes and products, their many weaknesses and a few strengths, that I had never previously imagined.
The critiquing seems scary at first but I think it becomes much more intuitive once you’ve got the ball rolling. The guidelines we receive at the start of the course really help. I learned as much from reading and critiquing other people’s work as I learned from receiving comments from our colleagues on the Writing a Novel course. Now I am totally hooked on ‘workshopping’ our works in progress.
I’m really enjoying the course and the chance to learn from each other.
It’s amazing to have so many eloquent eyes on our writing. I am finding it so helpful.
I’ve really enjoyed the process and am now more aware of when something is missing or not working in my work and why that might be. Before it might be a gut feeling — now I have the tools, the problem solving is much more tangible.