Creative Writing for Beginners Course Review

Cost: $199 or pay $25 per month for access to all courses; 7-day free trial available
Platform: SkillSuccess.com
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!)

 

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Course Introduction:

 

fiction writing course reviewAs 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.

 

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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

 

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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. Skill Success creative writing course review
  • 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.

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My Experience:

 

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.

fiction writing course reviews
Source: Bluefield Photos, bluefield.edu

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.

 

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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.

 

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Alternative & Complimentary Courses or Resources:

 

Artist's Way Book by Julia Cameron

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.

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Creative Writing for Beginners Course Review

  1. Jason Summer says:

    Hello, and thank you for your review of this product. Initially, I thought I might go ahead and try it, but I realized that I already have creative prompts, in a way. My issue is that I have only that: prompts. In my imagination, I get little flashes; a scene, no more than 5 seconds long, usually, as vivid and detailed as if it were happening in reality. Its really cool, and it inpires me to write about it, but then I do know where to go from there. I know, for example, that there is a room underground full of magical traps, and I can see it in detail perfectly, but I haven’t the slightest idea why its there, or what it’s hiding. What do I do to fill in the gaps? Sorry for the long question, but it’s a pretty complicated problem.

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Hey, Jason! What you’re getting are the “seeds” of a story. You can fill it in by asking yourself questions and fleshing out the story idea. There no right or wrong answers. It’s just a matter of using your own imagination and allowing your creativity to run free.

      So, taking your underground room for example, you could ask who lives there, what they look like, what they enjoy doing, what their main purpose in life is, and what they really want but can’t have. A story is created when a character wants or needs something, but there are obstacles stopping them from getting what they want or need. Take your “seeds” and attach them to characters, then question what those characters want and what is standing in their way. 

      This is the early part of fiction writing, and the part that I love most. The hard work of actually writing and crafting it into your vision is what comes next.

  2. Rachel says:

    I’m quite interested in taking a course on ‘creative’ writing as I love writing (I do need to improve on my writing skills too, actually).

    However, when I showed some of my works to others, instead of getting comments such as ‘it’s unique’ or ‘I haven’t seen this before’, I tend to get comments such as ‘this is the wrong way to write your story’ or ‘if you arrange your story line in this manner, your readers won’t understand’.

    Therefore, I’m quite confused on what ‘creativity’ actually means in the writing world. Since you have taken this course, can I ask if this course addresses this question of mine?

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      This would actually be the perfect course for you! It goes into detail about what creative writing is, how to get ideas, and then how to act on those ideas. 

      I think your mistake was showing others your work too soon. You have to give yourself time to fully develop a piece and to understand what you’re trying to accomplish with it. Even then, you should be selective about who you turn to for feedback. Some people will try to rewrite it for you, or they will give critical feedback because they’re a closeted or hidden writers too scared to come out. Try to find a local writing group where you can connect with other writers who are more trustworthy.

  3. Shannon says:

    I would love to take a course like this.  For me, it’s just finding the time to take any courses let alone being able to write.  I’ve developed a passion for it over the last few years, which is funny because I used to hate it when I was younger.  It’s crazy how much you grow and change over the years.  I may have to set aside some time for myself and delve into one of these courses.  🙂

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Hey, Shannon! The great thing about growing up is that you realize you have more talents and interests than you ever imagine! We’re also better at time management as we age, so I’m sure you’ll find time to take a course. I have found that a creative writing course will energize all areas of my life, so it’s a great way to get out of a rut in any aspect of life. Learning in general has always helped me get unstuck.

  4. Vicki says:

    I am a non-fiction writer Therese and sometimes while I’m writing my mind goes into orbit as it were 

    Do you have any advice for slowing down the creative thought that race along while I’m working on a particular piece of writing as sometimes it is so distracting

    Even when I make a few notes to clear my head it seems to make it more of a struggle 🙂

    Would really appreciate your help if you can

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Have you thought about starting an idea file? This can be a file in your word processing program that you keep open while you work or a notebook and pen that you keep next to your computer. When those thoughts start rushing through your mind and distracting you, simply note them in the file or notebook and get back to work. You will create a swipe file of creative ideas that you can use later for creative projects.

      That creative inspiration may seem like a curse, but you’re so lucky to have it! So many people struggle because they want to write but have few to no creative ideas. You just need to harvest the ideas so that they don’t become a distraction.

      Actually, you’re probably having all of those creative ideas because you’re meant to write something creative, whether that’s a novel, memoir, collection of stories or poems, or even a creative nonfiction that only you can produce. I urge you to give yourself a creative outlet, and I bet you will have fewer interruptions when it’s time for nonfiction.

  5. Stein says:

    Hello!

    I’ve always been a little skeptical too so expensive courses but assuming you have taken it. I assume it is quite good! Is this course for someone who has much free time? I am thinking of writing a book, and I’m wondering if this is the right course for me to take. I haven’t actually written so much. Just a blog.

    Øystein

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Hey, there! One of the things I like about this course is that it doesn’t take much time to complete at all. You can go through the material in one short afternoon or morning, assuming you go out later and do some of the exercises that take a bit more time. If you haven’t written much and you want to pick up some basics of creative writing to get the juices flowing and perhaps start a daily writing routine, I think this would work for you. I just wouldn’t pay full price for it…look on Groupon for deals offered by the website. You can get it for about $10 or less.

      Here’s a tip for free: start writing every single day even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Get into the habit of writing daily because writing a novel takes commitment.

  6. Stunning Bell says:

    I can say that I’ve just graduated to the level of an experienced writer, LOL. But it really took me some time to learn how to become creative in creating unique content for my websites every day.

    Even though it seems this course is oriented mainly towards fiction, am I right to say that the contents can be applied to any other sector? One topic really struck my curiosity: ”How to do basic market research if you’re writing to sell”. This course would have really helped a lot when I was starting my business online a year earlier.

    By the way, I was looking for the link to this particular course you were writing about but didn’t find it. You rather mentioned alternatives to this particular course. I would have loved to have a look.

    Thanks for this informative post.

  7. NSOH ALIEH LAURINE says:

    I can say that I’ve just graduated to the level of an experienced writer, LOL. But it really took me some time to learn how to become creative in creating unique content for my websites every day.

    Even though it seems this course is oriented mainly towards fiction, am I right to say that the contents can be applied to any other sector? One topic really struck my curiosity: ”How to do basic market research if you’re writing to sell”. This course would have really helped a lot when I was starting my business online a year earlier. 

    By the way, I was looking for the link to this particular course you were writing about but didn’t find it. You rather mentioned alternatives to this particular course. I would have loved to have a look.

    Thanks for this informative post.

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Hey, there! Did you click on the link for Skill Success at the very top of the page? I just checked, and it does go right to the course that I am talking about. Let me know if you need more help finding it. I can send you a direct link maybe.

      This is a general creative writing and thinking course, and it does reference both fiction and nonfiction. I think it could apply to anyone who wants to learn to think more creatively. I may not recommend it for you though, since you’ve moved past that beginner phase. I do have other course reviews coming that you would be better suited for, so stick around!

  8. Sherry says:

    Hi Theresa,

    I’ve never heard of the Skill Success platform before, but it sounds very interesting. I found your review of the Creative Writing course offered by Tracy Baines very informative, and something I just might give a try in the future. I’ve never tried writing fiction before myself, but I do love reading it!

    I’ve always had the thought that it’d be something I might like to do, but have no idea where to start, I’m actually more of an illustrator than a writer, although I do enjoy writing. Just the thought of trying to come up with characters, and a story line that would be interesting for others to read boggles my mind, lol.

    In all honesty, I really have no idea how to start, do you start with a story or plot of some kind, and then add characters? Or do you start with the characters first somehow?

    Anyways, thank you for pointing out the time it took you to go through this course and also that you can print out the PDFs on the exercises and complete them at a later time from what I understand.

    I’ll have to check this out sometime soon. I’m also thinking your review of this creative writing course may be of interest to a couple of my writer friends that are currently working on some new fiction books.

    Thanks for sharing, keep up the awesome work, Theresa!

    Best wishes ~Sherry

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      Hey, Sherry! Where you start with a story depends on you. Some writers start with a character and allow a plot to develop around them, and others are more plot focused. You really need all elements to somehow come together in the end, which is where taking online fiction writing courses comes into play. This particular course is great for anyone who writes anything at all, including website content or blogs. It covers the basics of creative writing in general, and a lot of it is based on nonfiction but can apply easily to fiction as well.

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