Last week, I shared with you a new writing workshop I’ve been enjoying over the past six weeks and made the case for how writing workshops can help you advance your writing.
When I did my Facebook Live last Friday (as I do on my Resilient Writers Facebook Page every Friday at 5pm Eastern — come join me!) a few people asked “So where do I find these online writing workshops?”
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!
This week, I’m going to share 7 options for online writing workshops I think you’ll love.
Online Writing Workshops: How to Choose
But first, let’s talk about how you would go about selecting the kind of writing workshop that’s right for you.
If you’re investing in yourself as a writer to improve your writing craft and generate more work — and I really hope you are doing this! — then you want to know that you’re taking the right kind of writing workshop.
It’s important to be intentional with the online writing workshops you invest in. Ask yourself these questions:
- What area of my writing do I most need to work on right now?
- Do I want a workshop where I get feedback from the instructor and fellow students?
- How important is it to be to be able to build community with the other writers?
- Do I need a genre-specific workshop to really go deep with my short stories, poetry, novel or memoir?
- How big or small a group do I want to join?
- Would I rather do something short-and-sweet, or a workshop that happens once a week over several months?
- How intensive an experience do I want? And how much time do I have to give?
- What is my budget?
Let me say a word about budget… We’d all like writing workshops, like most things, to be free. But no good workshop will be free. The writer has costs to cover in order to offer it, and no one should be expected to work for free.
I firmly believe that all artists — writers definitely included — deserve to be paid for their time.
While many writers offer scholarships for those who truly can’t afford a workshop, most workshops I’ve seen are between $300 and $1000 for a course or workshop that is group-based and runs over several weeks — usually in the 8-12 weeks range.
There are less expensive options, but these are typically “self-directed” where the material is pre-recorded and you go through it on your own time. For the less expensive workshops, community isn’t usually a big component, if it's available at all.
Occasionally, there are online conferences or shorter workshops that last a day or two — these will often be under $100. (My friend Emma Dhesi ran a great online summit recently where you could buy a set of interviews she conducted with about 20 writers about their writing and publishing tips.)
For workshops in the $1,000+ range, these are typically more intensive in nature and spread out over more weeks or months. In these kinds of workshops (some of which also incorporate some kind of group coaching programme) you can definitely expect to have more connection with the instructor and fellow writers, in a way that helps you build community.
Budget is not the only thing to consider when selecting a writing workshop. Here are some criteria you can consider to help you weigh your options:
- Is the instructor or workshop leader a published writer? Have they studied enough about the craft of writing to be ahead of you on the path?
- Does the workshop design help you meet your most important writing goals, whether that is to generate new work, learn more about writing in a specific genre, or help you finish work you’ve already started?
- Is the program designed in a way that will help you connect with other writers, so that you can build community and make writing friendships that will hopefully last well into the future?
The online writing workshops I’ve linked to below are ones I’ve either taken myself, or I know someone who’s taken them and have heard good things about them. They are workshops run by writers I know and respect so I feel comfortable recommending them. I’ve indicated which workshops might be best, depending on your writing goals.
Are you a beginning writer who wants to learn and write in an encouraging atmosphere?
Try one of the workshops offered by Firefly Creative Writing.
Firefly has a diverse team of writing coaches, and they offer some short (one day) workshops as well as longer ones. Their programmes are carefully designed with clear information provided as to how the workshop operates and who it is designed for, and for whom it would not be appropriate.
Firefly runs small group workshops and quite a number of them are suitable for the beginner writer. An 8-week workshop is in the range of $575 CDN or so. They do offer a few bursaries each year. https://fireflycreativewriting.com/bursaries
Are you wanting to try your hand at blogging? Consider Kerry Clare's Blogging School.
Novelist and well-known book blogger, Kerry Clare runs an online school focused entirely on blogging. Kerry has run the popular book blog Pickle Me This for many years now and if you’re ever wondering what to read next, she’s a fount of knowledge about the latest book with buzz.
Her next blogging workshop (Let’s Get Together, cost: $100 CDN) will start in June 2021 and she also has an 8-week self-directed program (cost: $200 CDN) as well, for anyone looking to learn the detailed ins-and-outs of blogging. I’ve taken her blogging course and can highly recommend it.
Are you looking to learn more about different genres, such as children’s literature or the mystery novel? Try a genre-specific workshop with Gotham Writers.
Gotham Writers Workshop is a creative home in New York City and Online where writers develop their craft and come together in the spirit of discovery and fellowship. Their site notes that they have been teaching creative writing and business writing since 1993 — I know a few people who’ve done their courses and really enjoyed them.
Gotham (gotta love the name!) offers a great variety of courses across multiple genres, all taught by published writers. (For example, you can take a 10-week course on Children’s Book Writing, or Memoir, or the Mystery Novel…and so many more!) Their 10-week courses are in the $400 US range.
Are you looking for a deep and intensive experience focused on the short story? Check out the Sarah Selecky Writing School.
Award-winning fiction author, Sarah Selecky, has been teaching writing workshops online for well over a decade now. Her special focus is the short story and there’s no one better to learn from. (Sarah’s own short story collection This Cake Is For The Party was nominated for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Frank O'Connor Short Story Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book Award.)
Sarah offers a self-directed course — The Story Course (cost: $475 US) — and a longer course that’s more akin to a college semester course, called The Story Intensive (cost: $4,750 US) which is for writers who want to put writing at the center of their lives and give it serious attention for a longer period of time. The next session starts on August 23rd.
Sarah does offer scholarships — best to follow her online (@sarahseleckywritingschool on Instagram) to find out about the application process and window for these. Although Sarah’s workshops focus on the short story, much of what you’d learn would be applicable for other forms of writing as well.
Do you need some help with self-editing? Experienced Canadian editor Kimmy Beach has you covered with her e-course on editing your own prose.
Kimmy Beach is well-known for her sharp editing eye and has worked with a long list of authors to finalize their books. (She also offers 1:1 editing services as well.) Her e-course is a great option for a writer needing to learn how to effectively self-edit. It’s self-directed, so you can complete it at your own pace. (Cost: $198 CDN, plus tax.)
Want to write more/better poetry?
Award-winning poet George Murray offers two levels of poetry workshops through his Walk The Line site.
Both currently available workshops cost $350 CDN. I have been taking his “Built From Scratch” workshop over the past 6 weeks and I’m absolutely loving it. George is a great instructor, the program is well-designed and is incredibly high-touch for the price, with feedback from George and fellow poets.
Highly recommend these workshops for anyone who loves poetry! (His workshop The Poet’s Toolbox would be great for a beginning poet who wants to learn more about poetry craft.)
Have you started writing a book but not (yet) been able to finish it? Then I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my own group programme for writers: First Book Finish.
This is a 12-week group programme designed to take writers from a partially written manuscript all the way to “The End” with a completed draft — plus a plan to revise and publish! Accountability and community are built into the programme.
The next session of First Book Finish will begin on July 12th, 2021 and you can get on the Waiting List here to hear about it early and receive a special offer not available anywhere else. I do offer some scholarships and you can find out more about those here.
If you’re not yet at the stage of writing a book, I also have a free mini-workshop for my email subscribers called The Notebook Project, and you can get immediate access to that here.
The above workshops are privately organized, but of course there are also lots of creative writing programmes run through colleges and universities. (Just Google your local options!) Many of these can be done in person after the pandemic, or online as well.
Some of these are courses that allow you to earn credits towards a degree program or diploma, but there are a few good options under “Continuing Education” as well. In Canada, both the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia (my alma mater) offer excellent continuing education options for creative writing.
Have you taken a writing workshop recently that you’ve loved? Come join me Live on Facebook this Friday at 5pm Eastern time to tell me about it — I’d love to hear!