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Writing Classes Available Online

With so much remote these days, it’s no surprise that many writing classes have gone remote, too

Although online writing instruction has long been available, in the era of COVID-19, a lot of resources that once required in-person attendance have moved online, at least for now. This means that writing conferences and festivals, as well as writing classes, that may not have been accessible to some due to the cost of travel and lodging may be more realistic, at least for now.

Typically, you have to live near a writing institution — or be willing to travel to it — in order to take a class or attend a conference. Both in-person instruction and conferences, which pack many different courses into a few days, can be incredibly beneficial for writers of all levels, as instructors and fellow attendees inspire new thoughts, ideas, and approaches in writing. Unfortunately, although sometimes actually attending a conference isn’t too costly, traveling there and paying for a hotel while you’re there can be. Below are some of the writing courses, festivals, and conferences that are planned to take place virtually this year. That means no airplane ticket, no hotel, and no time away from home — which may just mean you can go ahead and dig in.

GrubStreet

GrubStreet is a leading institution for writers of all levels. It’s headquartered in Boston, which is where a lot of its in-person classes (some of which are free!) traditionally take place. It’s also where GrubStreet’s annual three-day conference, The Muse and the Marketplace, is held. Since March, GrubStreet has moved all of its programming online, which means its multi-week classes as well as its once-in-a-while free classes, which were traditionally held in public spaces in Boston, are accessible to people around the world. Free classes include happy hour writing sessions in which GrubStreet instructors offer prompts and free writing time to spur your creativity. In addition, GrubStreet has announced that The Muse and the Marketplace will be held fully online in 2021 as an “enhanced writing residency” over the course of five days in April.

StoryStudio Chicago

StoryStudio offers writing classes to writers of all levels. Its artistic director is Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. In addition to offering its single-session and multi-week classes online, StoryStudio is offering a virtual publishing intensive October 1 through 4, which will include panel discussions with agents, authors, and publishers.

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs holds a major conference each year called AWP. In 2020, it was one of the last major writing conferences to be held during the pandemic (a decision seen as controversial by many would-be, immune-compromised attendees). The association says it is still working with officials in Kansas City to determine whether or not it can hold an in-person conference for 2021, but in the meantime, it is planning a fully remote option. This means travel and lodging costs are eliminated (which often makes up the bulk of what one would spend to attend the conference), which may make the conference accessible to some writers who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to attend. The conference is held over four days in March and according to the organizers, regardless of whether an in-person component exists, remote access will be available.

The Writers Studio

The Writers Studio has, according to its website, offered its online programming to far-reaching corners of the world, including Mexico, Tuscany, Tasmania, and an air-force base in Vietnam. Most classes offered online meet for eight weeks at specified times, though intensive one-on-one tutorials are also offered. Classes range in target skill levels from beginners to experts and are offered in fiction, poetry, and memoir.

CreativeMornings

CreativeMornings is known as “the world’s largest face-to-face creative community” and its “Field Trips,” specially-designed creative discussions and courses, are virtual. These little bits of instruction and food for thought aren’t strictly about writing but rather play to creativity at large, which of course is helpful for any creative person, including writers. Topics include how to develop a creative process, learning to draw your emotions, boosting creativity and productivity, and how to navigate our new reality of connection and community to find the opportunities and possibilities it holds for us.

We hope some of the ideas above bring you some new access and insight into how you can tap into creative instruction from anywhere through your computer. Though the pandemic has brought us plenty of challenges, it has also opened doors, and writing instruction is one arena that has really become quite accessible through virtual connection. Enjoy!

Lauren Harkawik
Author

Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik is a journalist, essayist, and fiction writer based in Vermont. You can read her writing on her website.

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