Looking to unleash your inner Hemingway?
Maybe you have an idea for the next Harry Potter and want to get it out?
Or maybe you just want to pick up a new skill that can help you earn money on the side?
No matter the reason, an online writing course might be just the thing to help you.
These are writing courses that you can take from the comfort of your own couch. That means no sitting in a stuffy classroom, or paying exorbitant fees for college tuition.
There are TONS of different writing courses out there though. They cover the gamut of genres, formats, and approaches. How are you going to choose the one that’s right for you?
Luckily, I’m here to help.
Over the course of my career as a professional writer, I’ve taken dozens of online writing courses and sat in on more writing workshops and seminars than I can count. I can safely say that there are a lot of bad writing courses out there. But, there are plenty that stand out too.
Below are my reviews and recommendations for the ones that stand out.
Choosing an online writing course
Before we dive into the best courses, you should know why you want to sign up for one.
After all, this is going to be an investment of your time and–depending on which course you choose–money as well. You want to make sure you’re getting the most out of the course you go with.
To that end, the most important thing you should decide on first is your goals. Why exactly are you looking for a writing course?
Do you want to write a fiction best seller?
Do you want to learn the basics of copywriting for your career?
Are you looking to create the next Oscar winning screenplay?
Whatever your decision, it’s important to know your goals before you choose. Writing is a HUGe topic. It covers a range of things from screenwriting, to novel writing, to journalism, to content marketing.
Come up with your goals first. Once you do, keep reading to find the writing course that helps you achieve those goals.
The 5 Best Online Writing Courses of 2020
Below are our recommendations for the best online writing courses of 2020:
- Write of Passage – The Best Online Writing Course for Audience Building and Networking
- Copyschool – The Best Online Copywriting Course
- The 90 Day Novel – The Best Online Writing Course for Writing Novels
- Masterclass – The Best Online Writing Course(s) Taught By Pros
- Gotham Writers Workshop – The Best Online Writing Course Community
Keep reading for our in-depth review of each course.
#1. Write of Passage – The Best Online Writing Course for Audience Building and Networking
David Perell is a writer, entrepreneur, and the host of the North Star podcast. He’s also the founder of one of the most lauded online writing courses out there.
Write of Passage is a five-week online writing course that’s helped hundreds of students across the world learn how to build an audience and write online.
It’s split up into seven different modules—each one focusing on a different topic:
- Module 1: The Age of Leverage covers how writing online helps your career as well as introduces you to the course.
- Module 2: Make Your Serendipity Vehicle covers how to build a habit of coming up with writing ideas.
- Module 3: Create Your Online Home covers building a website that attracts an audience.
- Module 4: Set Up Your Distribution System covers building a newsletter and other methods of distributing your writing
- Module 5: Learn to Write Clearly and Persuasively covers the nuts and bolts of good writing itself.
- Module 6: Connect with Anyone teaches you how to use your writing effectively network and connect with people.
- Module 7: Build Your Personal Monopoly shows you how to use your knowledge and skills to stand out from the rest of the competition.
Overall, this is a perfect choice if you’re a professional looking to make stronger connections in your industry, or if you’re looking for new opportunities through your writing.
Each cohort also gets access to templates, writing assignments, writing templates, and feedback with other members of your cohort.
One downside: The pricing is expensive.
The Essentials Course which includes the the 7 modules, writing workshops, live sessions, and the student-only forum is $4,000. While the Premium Course which includes more tutorials and live interviews is $6,000.
However, based on everything I’ve heard about Write of Passage, the price is well worth it.
#2. Copyschool – The Best Online Copywriting Course
- Best for copywriting
- Learn about sales pages, social media ads, and more
- Instant access to 7 courses
- One-time payment of $2,997
Founded by copywriter extraordinaire Joanna Wiebe in 2011, Copyhackers offers a massive repository of copywriting resources.
They’ll help you learn the basics of copywriting and improve your marketing efforts for any goal you’re looking to crush.
On top of their free resources, they also include the Copy School. This gives you instant access to all of their writing courses:
- 10x Sales Pages
- 10x Web Copy
- 10x Funnels
- 10x Emails
- 10x Launches
- 10x Landing Pages
- 10x Facebook & Instagram Ads
Each of those courses individually cost $1,000 – $2,000. All told it’s $9,000.
But Copy School allows you to get it for a one-time payment of $2,997. You can also $297 per month for 12 months, but you save $567 by paying it all at once.
Alternatively, you can purchase Copy School for a team of three. In which case it’ll cost you 12 monthly payments of $697. There are one-time payments available though the price is obscured on the site.
Copy School will help you improve your copywriting skills across all those topics. Each course includes the modules and actionable insights you need to elevate your writing to the next level. Most are hosted and taught by Joanna Wiebe, but a few include some other great marketing pros such as Wahida Lakhani and Ry Schwartz.
Overall, it’s a perfect choice for any copywriter looking to boost their skills.
#3. The 90 Day Novel – The Best Online Writing Course for Novels
- Best for writing novels
- 100+ actionable lessons
- Learn to plot, outline, and create characters
- Prices start at $269/month for 3 months
Looking to finally write and/or finish that Great American Novel you’ve been working on? The 90 Day Novel helps you cross the finish line with a book you can be proud of at the end of three months.
Brought to you by Novelry, an online writing school, the 90 Day Novel helps you write and finish your novel through more than 100 actionable lessons. They’ll give you step-by-step instructions on how to finish your book as well as online mentorship sessions with a tutor.
That means you’ll get an experienced writer showing you the ropes and helping you get your writing off the ground. All the tutors are published authors who you can choose based on your needs and wants.
From plotting, to outlining, to genres, to actually sitting down and putting words to paper, this online writing course shows you everything you need to know about creating a novel. The best part is that it’s great for whether you’re a complete beginner or if you have had writing experience before.
The course itself is split up into six phases, with each phase lasting anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks:
- Week 1: Inspiration and Preparation. Students learn the importance of writing habits and how to come up with a novel idea.
- Week 2-3: Construction. You learn the importance of building characters and plot to find the emotional core of your store.
- Weeks 4-6: The Swim. Having established your writing habit, you now break down the craft of writing.
- Week 7: The Heat Phase. You learn how to raise the stakes of your story as well as pushing past mental roadblocks.
- Weeks 8-10: Enlightenment. The course breaks down a successful novel and shows you how and why it works.
- Weeks 11-12: Home. You wrap up your novel and learn how to push through to finish it once and for all.
Pricing is not too bad either. The way it works is you pay a certain amount depending on which tier you choose over the course of three months. The difference between each tier comes down to how much tutoring and live coaching sessions you’d like. The more live tutoring, the more you’ll have to pay, with the Intensive Plus plan including feedback on your novel as well.
#4. Masterclass – The Best Online Writing Course(s) to Learn from Pros
- Taught by big name writers
- Instructors include Neil Gaiman, James Patterson, and more
- Access to all Masterclasses
- Costs just $15/month
Ever wonder how Dan Brown seems to magically get you to keep turning the pages of his thrillers?
Or how Margaret Atwood develops rich and compelling characters?
Or maybe how David Sedaris crafts such witty and poignant essays?
Masterclass has your back.
The online compendium of literally any lesson you could possibly want from guitar lessons from Carlos Santana, to tennis lessons with Serena Williams, also offers writing classes from your very favorite authors including:
- Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television
- James Patterson Teaches Writing
- David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor
- Billy Collins Teaches Reading and Writing Poetry
- David Baldacci Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing
- Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
- Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers
- Joyce Carol Oates Teaches the Art of the Short Story
- David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing
- Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
- Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing
- R.L. Stine Teaches Writing for Young Audiences
- Judy Blume Teaches Writing
And there are more big names being added regularly.
The classes themselves are broken up into a multi-video lesson plan and lasts anywhere between 3-5 hours. Along with the videos taught by the writers themselves, you’ll also get access to a community of students also taking the course, as well as homework assignments. Some of the teachers have been known to pop in the student forums to take part in their learning as well!
Pricing wise, Masterclass is unique. For one they bill you annually at $15 / month for a total of $180. Once you subscribe, you not only get access to every writing course, but you also are able to take part in Masterclass’s entire catalog of courses. For the money you pay, it’s an incredible deal especially when compared to some other online writing courses out there.
Of course, there are some downsides. If you’re looking for a personalized experience, you’re not going to get much of that. After all, your teachers are big name professionals who can’t be at your beck and call for every question. Also, some of the lessons can lack the actionable steps you’re looking for if you want to improve your writing.
However, it’s a solid choice if you ever wondered about the process behind some of your favorite stories and storytellers.
#5. Gotham Writers Workshops – Best Online Writing Course Community
- Legendary writers workshop in NYC
- Online writing classes and Zoom workshops
- Guided instruction
- Fantastic community of writers!
Since 1993, the Gotham Writers Workshop has helped untold amounts of writers hone their craft and become the best writers they can be.
Though they’re based out of New York City, you don’t have to be in the Big Apple to take part. In fact, they offer two types of online writing courses that you can take anywhere with an Internet connection:
- Online Writing Classes. These are 10 week workshops that allow you to learn at your own pace. That means anytime and anywhere.
- Zoom Classes. These are more involved classes where you meet with a cohort of writers and instructors to replicate an in-person writing workshop. As such, you must meet at a specified time.
The Gotham Writers Workshop is a NYC institution and not enough can be said about what they have done for the writing community as whole. If you’re looking to improve your fiction, essay, screenwriting, poetry, or playwriting chops, this is the place for you.
Pricing varies depending on what you’re looking for but a typical Fiction Writing course is going to cost $409.
What to look for in an online writing course
While the course you ultimately choose is up to you and your goals, there are a few things that separate the good courses from the bad ones.
Here are the criteria we used when deciding which courses we should include on this list.
There’s an old saying: Those who can’t do, teach.
When it comes to online writing courses, the saying should go: Those who can do, teach. That’s why we looked towards the background and credentials of the instructors who are teaching these online writing courses.
If your instructor isn’t published or experienced in the writing topic they’re setting out to teach you, I highly suggest you look elsewhere. After all, if they couldn’t get published or craft good stories themselves, why would they be able to show you how?
When looking at online writing courses, investigate your instructors background. Where have they been published? What is their experience like outside of the classroom?
Amount of lessons
Though quality beats quantity most of the time, this is an area you want to make sure you’re getting a lot of reps in.
You can’t teach someone how to write great stories or copy in a single lesson. You can’t do that in a few lessons. That’s why when you’re taking a look at which writing courses to take, you should also consider the amount of time you’ll actually spend learning.
If it’s just a one-day workshop, you’ll actually might get more value by turning elsewhere that offers comprehensive multi-week long courses. That way you know you’ll at least be able to keep a habit of writing and learning, rather than making it a one off thing.
Perhaps the best way to improve as a writer is to get consistent and constructive feedback. After all, you never know what’s working and what isn’t working.
Try to find an online course that offers good feedback and critiques on your writing. This can come in a number of different forms. Perhaps the best way is when an experienced writer and instructor can give you personalized feedback. A few courses above offer that–however, most don’t.
Instead, they rely on community feedback from your peers in the class. This can be especially helpful as other students can keep you motivated and in check when it comes to your writing habits. Also it’s known that teaching someone how to do something is a great way to learn yourself. That means when you read and critique work, it inadvertently improves your own writing as well.
Looking for the best online writing course? Choose any of the ones above based on your goals and you’re sure to learn a thing or two about writing.
Just remember: The important thing to get better at writing is doing it…a lot. So just get started and we’ll see you on the NYT bestseller list.