Writing is a rigorous journey paved in rewrites and empty coffee cups. Even with formal education, one does not simply stop learning how to be a writer—it’s a lifetime commitment, and if it isn’t your passion for it is gone. What I knew in college has vastly changed, as well as my writing habits, style and how I approach a project. The writing life may not be the easiest path but for myself, it’s the most rewarding. So how do we continue to fine-tune our skills long after classes close and when we work in an environment that only fosters one type of writing? Additionally, how do we do this when we physically cannot attend workshops? Well, online is certainly an option.
Writing community vs. webinars for the purpose of teaching
Countless websites offer webinars or online communities to connect with other writers. The question isn’t which one you need to choose—use both—but identifying which one is going to benefit you as a writer more. I say this because online courses/webinars often come with a fee. This past week, I came across one of these sights from an ad on Facebook.
James Patterson is only one of many celebrities/authors/professionals teaching courses in their fields of study. So what exactly is involved? As indicated above, and in the details you get:
- 22 video lessons
- Reading materials
The video/lesson segments are intriguing, including subjects such as:
- Passion & Habit (in order to get in the mindset of writing)
- Writers block
- Writing Dialogue
- Ending the book
- Getting published
- Marketing the Patterson way, among many others.
What you don’t get:
- Feedback on your work—because no, James Patterson is not going to read your novel—this doesn’t mean the class isn’t useful
If You Don’t Have the Cash…
Joining a writing community has its perks—though if you are looking for excellent advice from an established author, its not likely to be there. Though its also an opportunity to get feedback from other writers. Here’s a few sites:
- Writer’s Café (http://www.writerscafe.org/)
- Story Mash (http://storymash.com/)
- Writer’s Network (http://www.writers-network.com/)
- Mibba (http://www.mibba.com/)
Advise for the Cheap
Just because an author has decided to provide lessons on writing, doesn’t mean its going to cost you. Other than the mountain of books on writing, consider videos (because ironically the first one is James Patterson):
Or if you’re up to workshops, whether free or with a fee:
If you have the extra cash, a course from Masterclass may be worth it (I’m even considering it!) but if not, having a strong support system in your writing community can benefit your writing while perfecting the craft. Reading other people’s work can also help shape your own writing, spotting out errors and plot issues, which refines your own skills when your work is in the editing process.
So in conclusion:
What to do: continue challenging yourself as a writer
What not to do: Nothing because you think you don’t need any help—good luck with that