Cost: $199 or pay $25 per month for access to all courses; 7-day free trial available
Format: videos streamed through SkillSuccess.com
Length: 5 sections with about 75 minutes of content total
My Rating:(assuming you don’t pay full price!)
As you can tell from the title, this is a course on creative writing designed for beginners. I will add that it offers only the very basics, so I would consider it a bare-bones overview of creative writing for those with no writing experience. If you spend your days in the world of technical writing or journalism, you may also consider this a good jumping off point to get your brain thinking more creatively.
SkillSuccess.com isn’t dedicated to creative writing. The site features hundreds of courses on everything from playing the ukulele to painting and designing websites. I was skeptical about the qualifications of their writing instructors, but I was pleasantly surprised with their pick for this online writing course.
Tracy Baines teaches creative writing a college in the UK as well as through literary festivals and her private courses. She actively publishes her work in women’s magazines and has published a novel and nonfiction book.
What You’ll Learn:
- How to find creative writing ideas in the world around you
- How to use creative writing picture prompts successfully
- Creative exercises that you can use to spark writing ideas at any time
- How to save creative writing ideas so that you always have your own writing prompts on hand
- How to make creative writing fun
- The most important question to ask yourself when writing
- How to fit creative writing into your busy lifestyle – without guilt
- How to set effective writing goals
- How to silence your inner critic
- Simple techniques to create basic character profiles
- Easy ways to find the perfect character names
- The very basics of writing dialogue and setting scenes
- Introduction to point of view
- How to do basic market research if you’re writing to sell
- Simple ways to edit and proofread your work if you’re writing to sell
What You Must Know:
- The is a bare-bones introduction of creative writing that you can move through quickly. If you’re an experienced fiction writer or have taken other creative writing courses, you probably won’t gain much from taking this course.
- The course is broken up into five sections, but the meat of the course is found in the middle three sections.
- This is an interactive course, and you’re encouraged to complete the exercises as you move through each section. There are a couple exercises that you should complete in a secondary location, but you don’t have to pause the course until you do so. Continue with the course, and print out the PDF that details the exercise. You can complete it at a later time without holding up progress in the course.
- Most of the subsections are less than five minutes long. If you can access the website with your smartphone or a tablet, you can learn about creative writing whenever you have a few minutes to spare.
- While there are downloadable PDFs in this course, you can view them on the website without downloading. Most are simple reviews of the lessons contained within each section, but a couple will give you variations of the exercises presented.
- This course is focused on creative writing, and that includes fiction and nonfiction. All of the information applies directly to fiction writing, and most of the exercises can spark a fictional story.
- There is a fun bar that shows what percentage of the course you’ve completed, but it will stick at 0% if you don’t click “Mark this Unit Complete” after listening to each video.
It took me 75 minutes to complete this entire course, including the completion of a couple exercises. Most of the exercises would fall into the category of creative writing picture prompts, but there are a few other exercises that the instructor asks students to complete at a secondary location at a later time.
For instance, you will need to go to a public place to complete one of them. I didn’t include the time to complete those exercises here because you don’t have to stop the course to complete them. Simply print out the PDF sheets that explain the exercise and complete it at a later time. You can still complete the course in under two hours.
I found the instructor’s voice pleasant and enjoyed her presence on the videos. Since I’m an experienced fiction writer and have completed many university-level literature courses and creative writing workshops, I wasn’t compelled to take notes. I actually cleaned my living room while listening!
The course is designed for complete beginners who just want an overview of creative writing in general, so you may want to take some notes if you’re less experienced. You will definitely want to complete the exercises more than once, and the creative writing picture prompts are useful skills that you can use even as you become more advanced.
Some of the exercises in this fiction writing course represent activities that I do on a daily basis as an experienced writer. If you’re willing to write daily and fully embrace those exercises, you can develop a solid foundation as a creative writer even if you never complete another online writing course.
I don’t recommend that you pay the full asking price of $199 for this course, but I still gave the course five stars with the assumption you will pay significantly less. You can take advantage of the 7-day free trial and enjoy the course for free. You may also want to check Groupon because SkillSuccess.com regularly offers deals that dramatically reduce the cost of individual courses.
I Recommend this Course If You…
- Are a complete beginner and need to warm up to the page or blank screen.
- Haven’t written in a while and want to get your creative juices flowing again.
- Are interested in learning new methods of thinking creatively and coming up with fresh ideas.
- Aren’t sure if creative writing is for you and need a simple introduction.
- Don’t have much free time but want to take a creative writing course online.
- Want to learn about creative writing without paying hundreds of dollars for a premium course.
Alternative & Complimentary Courses or Resources:
If you haven’t already picked up a copy of Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I recommend all creative writers do so. This is especially true if you’re just beginning and want to take your creative writing seriously. Tracy Baines mentions this book briefly in the course, but there is much more to learn from the book than what she mentions.
I have The Complete Artist’s Way, which is a compilation of the original book plus a couple follow-up books. I love having them all in one gorgeous hardback book on my desk, and I read the essays regularly. I always gain something new, even as a more experienced writer.