Top 10 Creative Writing Classes (2024): Can These Courses Get You Published?

by Joe Bunting | 0 comments

If you want to transform from aspiring writer to published author, you might be thinking maybe a few creative writing classes would help. But with so many classes out there, which ones should you take? After all, if you're like me, you have a limited amount of time and money to invest in your writing.

Which creative writing classes should you take to give you the best chance of accomplishing your writing goals and getting published?

Top 10 Creative Writing Classes

In this post, we're going to review the top creative writing classes so that you can make an informed decision. We'll also talk about the different types of courses, how to evaluate them, and give you tips to get the most out of the ones you choose to take.

But first, let's talk a little about whether creative writing classes actually work, whether they will really help you get published.

Should YOU Take a Creative Writing Class? 5 Benefits of Courses

I used to believe that no one could teach you to become a better creative writer. You either were a good writer or you weren't one (of course, I was a good writer, and was going to prove it).

But that changed when I discovered the power of deliberate practice.

At The Write Practice, we believe anyone can become a great writer and get published if you practice writing deliberately, and creative writing classes can be a great way to do that.

Classes provide structure, give you the chance to learn new things, and can help you get the feedback you need to get better. Most of all, they can be great sources of deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice has five components, and creative writing classes can be evaluated based on how they help creative writers practice deliberately.

  1. Theory and Knowledge. A good creative writing course should provide essential information on various writing techniques, storytelling principles, and literary devices. This knowledge will help students understand the craft of writing better and improve their skills.
  2. Practice and Process. Learning isn't enough, though. You also have to do the work! Good courses include a clear process that can guide you to achieve your writing goals. This might involve breaking down larger projects into manageable tasks, providing templates or outlines, or offering techniques for overcoming writer's block. Good courses also can hold you accountable so you actually follow through with the process and complete your projects.
  3. A coach. You need a mentor who can show you the process. A good coach can provide insights, share their own experiences, and offer guidance to help students navigate challenges and improve their skills. Interaction with your coach can also be a source of accountability and direction.
  4. Feedback. We all need feedback on what's working in our writing and what's not, both from professional editors and writing peers. Good courses should offer opportunities for you to get feedback on your writing, whether through peer review, one-on-one coaching, or group workshops.
  5. A team. Writing is hard, and you need encouragement and support from a community of people to help you keep going. A course that encourages collaboration, peer support, and networking can help you stay motivated, share ideas, and learn from your fellow writers.

If you practice deliberately, you'll grow. You'll become a better creative writer. You'll accomplish your writing goals, get published, and perhaps even become a professional writer.

That's why we evaluated the creative writing classes reviewed in this guide based on these criteria.

By the way, did you know we have creative writing classes at The Write Practice designed specifically around deliberate practice? Check out our community and see if we can help you transform from aspiring writer into published author. Check out our classes here.

Types of Creative Writing Classes

There are many different types of creative writing classes available to suit your unique preferences, learning styles, budget, and goals.

That's why it's so important to think through what aspects are important to you, and how to accomplish your writing goals with the classes available to you and your budget and time constraints.

To help you choose the right class for you (the write class?), we've created a pdf worksheet 10 Questions to Consider When Choosing a Writing Class. You can download it here and use it as you make your decision for your next writing class. Get the worksheet »

Here are the different types of creative writing classes:

  1. Online Classes: These classes are conducted virtually and can offer flexibility, allowing you to complete coursework and engage in discussions from the comfort of your home.
  2. Creative Writing Certificate Classes: These programs typically consist of a series of courses focused on developing your writing skills in various genres and styles. They may be offered online or in-person and result in a certificate upon completion.
  3. Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in creative writing: These programs are intensive, graduate-level programs that provide advanced instruction and mentorship in various writing genres. They usually require a significant time commitment and culminate in a final thesis or project.
  4. In-Person Classes: These classes are conducted at a physical location, such as a university or writing center, and often provide more opportunities for face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers.
  5. Low Residency Programs: These programs combine short, intensive on-campus residencies with online coursework, allowing students to maintain their personal and professional commitments while pursuing a degree or certificate in creative writing.
  6. Self-Guided Classes: These classes often consist of pre-recorded lectures, reading materials, and exercises that you can complete at your own pace, without direct interaction with an instructor or classmates.
  7. Writing Type-Based Classes: These focus on specific forms, such as fiction writing classes, poetry, screenwriting, or memoir, and are designed to help you develop skills and techniques relevant to that form.
  8. Genre-Based Classes: These classes explore the conventions, techniques, and structures of specific genres, such as mystery, science fiction, romance, or historical fiction, helping you hone your skills within your chosen genre.

Which of these class types most interest you? Let us know in the comments!

Of course, there can also be overlap with each of these types. For example, you might take an online fiction writing class that focuses on writing crime short stories, or a low-residency MFA class that's largely online and focuses on memoir.

Each of these types tend to have different cost ranges as well. For example, in-person MFA programs tend to be more costly than online self-guided ones.

However, I will add that just because a class is more expensive or has a larger time commitment doesn't make it better or more effective. For example, in our 100 Day Book program, we work with many writers doing their MFA who despite their advanced curriculum find they need the accountability and support to finish their books. Sometimes a variety of classes can be most effective.

How to Choose the Right Creative Writing Class

When comparing traditional creative writing programs like the University of Oxford and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop with online programs like Gotham Writers Workshop, MasterClass, and community-based programs like GrubStreet, it's essential to consider various factors, including your personal learning style, goals, time commitment, and budget. Here are some points to consider when evaluating these different types of programs:

To help you choose the right class for you (the write class?), we've created a pdf worksheet 10 Questions to Consider When Choosing a Writing Class. You can download it here and use it as you make your decision for your next writing class. Get the worksheet »

  1. Format: Traditional programs like Oxford and the University of Iowa typically involve attending classes in-person, providing a more immersive and structured experience. Online programs like Gotham Writers Workshop and MasterClass offer greater flexibility, allowing you to work at your own pace and from the comfort of your home.
  2. Interaction: In-person programs often allow for more interaction with instructors and classmates, which can foster a sense of community, collaboration, and networking opportunities. Online courses may offer limited interaction, depending on the platform and course format.
  3. Credentials: Traditional programs, particularly those offered by renowned institutions like Oxford and the University of Iowa, carry a certain level of prestige and recognition in the literary world. Completing a well-regarded MFA program can help establish your credibility as a writer. Online and community-based programs may not carry the same weight, but they can still offer valuable instruction and skill development.
  4. Cost: Traditional programs, especially those at prestigious universities, can be expensive, and may require a significant investment of time and resources. Online and community-based programs like Gotham Writers Workshop, MasterClass, and GrubStreet tend to be more affordable and accessible, making them an attractive option for those on a budget or with limited time.
  5. Course offerings: Traditional programs may offer a broader range of courses and specialization options, while online and community-based programs may focus on specific genres or writing techniques. Be sure to review the course offerings for each program to ensure they align with your interests and goals.
  6. Networking and connections: Traditional programs often provide opportunities for networking with professors, visiting writers, and fellow students, which can be valuable for your future career. Online and community-based programs may offer some networking opportunities, but they may be more limited in scope.

Ultimately, the best program for you will depend on your individual needs, goals, and preferences. Take the time to research each option thoroughly, consider reviews and testimonials, and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, so choose the program that best aligns with your personal objectives and learning style.

Top 10 Creative Writing Classes

The 10 best creative writing classes can vary depending on personal preferences and individual learning styles. However, here is a list of some popular and reputable creative writing classes that have gained recognition for their quality and effectiveness:

1. MasterClass

Neil Gaiman MasterClass Review 1

Some of our favorite authors offer courses on MasterClass, including Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Aaron Sorkin, Joyce Carol Oates, and Malcolm Gladwell.

We love Masterclasses because each class gives you behind-the-scenes insight into the writing processes and techniques of some of the most successful authors in the world.

We have lots to say about Masterclass, more than we have time for here, but you can read our MasterClass review of their best creative writing classes here.

And if you're ready to check them out and sign up, you can do that here.

MasterClass Features:

  1. Format: Online, subscription based pre-recorded writing classes taught by some of the most successful authors in the world
  2. Interaction: Limited online interaction
  3. Credentials: None
  4. Cost: $180 per year
  5. Course offerings: behind-the scenes look at the processes of top writers (view our favorite creative writing MasterClasses)
  6. Networking and connections: limited

Learn more and sign up here.

2. The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop

This MFA program is one of if not the most prestigious in the world, having produced numerous successful authors, including Flannery O'Connor, John Irving, Marilynne Robinson, Michael Cunningham, and Ann Patchett, among many others.

It offers intensive creative writing courses in fiction and poetry, with an emphasis on peer critique and workshopping, taught by accomplished faculty who focuses mostly on literary writing.

Even better, it is fully funded or close to fully funded, with applicants earning their tuition by teaching or winning a fellowship.

Perhaps that's why it's also one of the most competitive writing programs in the world to get into, admitting fewer than five percent of applicants!

Learn more about the Iowa Writer's Workshop here.

Iowa Writer's Workshop Features:

  1. Format: In-person residency based MFA program
  2. Interaction: Highly interactive
  3. Credentials: Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA)
  4. Cost: fully funded (or close to fully funded) through teaching or fellowship programs
  5. Course offerings: in depth courses in poetry, fiction, or nonfiction
  6. Networking and connections: high level of interaction with professors and industry insiders

Learn more and apply here.

3. The University of Oxford

Oxford offers a variety of creative writing classes, both online and on-campus, and both for “credit” or not, as part of their Continuing Education program.

You can take their online classes, sure, but a Summer program in Oxford sounds pretty great, right?

Learn more about the University of Oxford's creative writing classes here.

Oxford Writing Program Features:

  1. Format: Online OR In-person classes taught live, some a part-time Masters program
  2. Interaction: Varies, from low level online classes to high level in-person programs
  3. Credentials: Varies from non-accredited to Masters degree
  4. Cost: Varies, from £535 (~$665) for online classes to £11,446 (~$14,200) per year for a two year Masters
  5. Course offerings: in depth courses in poetry, fiction, or nonfiction (view courses)
  6. Networking and connections: high level of interaction with professors and industry insiders

Learn more and apply here.

4. The Write Practice

Inside 100 Day Book

We're biased, of course, but we think The Write Practice's classes are among the best in the world.

Our writing classes use the power of deliberate practice to help transform you from aspiring writer to published author, combining community-based learning (because you learn most from your peers), practical curriculum (because you need to learn through doing), coaching to help hold you accountable, and workshopping opportunities to help you get feedback.

Check out our classes and programs here.

The Write Practice Features:

  1. Format: Online classes, taught live and pre-recorded
  2. Interaction: High-level of interaction and feedback online
  3. Credentials: Non-accredited (but you will finish a book by the end of our flagship course, 100 Day Book)
  4. Cost: $49 / month for unlimited writing classes, $99 / month for classes plus book coaching
  5. Course offerings: classes on the writing process, craft, and publishing industry
  6. Networking and connections: high level of interaction with team and fellow writers

Learn more and sign up here.

5. Gotham Writers Workshop

This well-regarded writing school offers hundreds of online (and in-person) courses in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and more.

Their faculty is full of usually published and often successful writers, and their courses tend to have a nice balance of theory and practice (although they seem to lean slightly toward theory).

Check out Gotham Writers Workshop here.

Gotham Writers Workshop Features:

  1. Format: In-person classes taught live or Online, a la carte classes, either taught live or pre-recorded
  2. Interaction: Medium level of interaction, varies by course
  3. Credentials: Non-accredited
  4. Cost: varies, usually between $200 to $500 for online classes
  5. Course offerings: classes on the writing process, craft, and publishing industry
  6. Networking and connections: high level of interaction with team and fellow writers

Learn more and sign up here.

6. The Writers' Studio

This writing school was originally founded in 1987 by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Philip Schultz, and began offering online classes in 2001. Their online and in person creative writing classes are taught with different levels of instruction (e.g. Level 1 Poetry, Level 2 Poetry, etc). Like Gotham Writer's Workshop, they have both an in-person experiences—held in New York City, San Francisco, and Tucson—and online classes.

Their extensive faculty consists mostly of former students of Philip Schultz's classes, ranging from Pushcart nominee Joel Hinman to unpublished authors working on their first novels.

Learn more about The Writers' Studio here.

The Writer's Studio Features:

  1. Format: In-person classes taught in New York City, San Fransisco, and Tucson or Online, a la carte classes taught live
  2. Interaction: High level of online or offline interaction
  3. Credentials: Non-accredited
  4. Cost: between $400 to $500 per eight-week class
  5. Course offerings: classes on fiction and poetry (view classes)
  6. Networking and connections: varies, but medium level of interaction in online classes and higher level in in-person classes

Learn more and sign up here.

7. Skillshare Creative Writing Classes

These budget friendly, self-guided, online creative writing classes are from experienced writers and editors and include project-based learning. There's very little interaction (although it's available), but as with Masterclass, the chance to learn from some of the most successful writers in the world is cool.

I also like that they have assignments for each class, which you can post for peer feedback (although the feedback seems quite sparse).

Check out our full review of Skillshare writing classes or sign up for a free trial here.

Skillshare Creative Writing Class Features:

  1. Format: Online, subscription based pre-recorded writing classes
  2. Interaction: Low-level of interaction
  3. Credentials: Non-accredited
  4. Cost: $19 per month or $99 per year
  5. Course offerings: various classes on creative writing, fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry (view our favorite Skillshare writing classes)
  6. Networking and connections: none

Learn more and sign up here.

8. GrubStreet

This non-profit, Boston-based writing center offers online and in-person classes in various genres and skill levels, including workshops, seminars, and multi-week courses.

Several notable writers have come out of GrubStreet, including New York Times bestselling Jenna Blum, award-winning author Rishi Reddi, and bestselling author Celeste Ng, who was at the center of a controversy featuring GrubStreet around an incident of plagiarism, documented in the New York Times article “Bad Art Friend” and subsequent Twitter revelations.

Learn more about GrubStreet here.

GrubStreet Features:

  1. Format: Online and in-person (Boston) live seminars and writing classes
  2. Interaction: Medium to high-level of interaction and feedback
  3. Credentials: Non-accredited
  4. Cost: $80 for one-day seminars to $600+ for multi-week classes
  5. Course offerings: various classes on creative writing, fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry (view all of GrubStreet's writing classes here)
  6. Networking and connections: depends on the class and how involved you get in the community, most (but not all) networking opportunities will be in-person

Learn more and sign up here.

9. Stanford Continuing Studies

Stanford University's continuing education program offers a variety of online creative writing courses for aspiring writers of all levels.

Learn more about Stanford's classes here.

Stanford Creative Writing Class Features:

  1. Format: Online live classes or in-person workshops of less than one month
  2. Interaction: Medium- to high-level of interaction depending on the course and location
  3. Credentials: They have an “Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing,” although it's mostly an vanity certificate and wouldn't qualify you for professional advancement
  4. Cost: $300 to $700 per class
  5. Course offerings: various classes on creative writing and publishing (view all)
  6. Networking and connections: Varies depending on the class and format

Learn more and sign up here.

10. The Kenyon Review Writers Workshop

This annual summer writing program, hosted by the prestigious Kenyon Review literary journal, offers weeklong summer workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, both online and in person. They recently added a winter program as well.

Learn more about The Kenyon Review's program here.

The Kenyon Review Writers Workshop Features:

  1. Format: In-person weeklong writing workshop
  2. Interaction: high-level of interaction, especially at their in-person events
  3. Credentials: Non-accredited
  4. Cost: $2,395 for in-person summer workshop, $895 for online
  5. Course offerings: various classes on creative writing, fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry (view our favorite Skillshare writing classes)
  6. Networking and connections: high, especially at their in-person workshops

Learn more about The Kenyon Review's program here.

Keep in mind that the “best” course for you will depend on your specific goals, interests, and learning preferences. Be sure to research each option thoroughly and consider any reviews or testimonials to determine which program is the best fit for your needs.

Tips for Making the Most of Creative Writing Classes

These are all great classes and programs. However, even the best classes won't work for you if you don't go into them with the right attitude. Here are my best tips to make the most out of the creative writing classes you sign up for.

1. Set Clear Goals

Before starting a creative writing class, set specific goals for what you want to achieve. This could be anything from completing a short story to improving your writing skills. Having a clear goal in mind will help you stay motivated and focused throughout the class.

2. Participate in Class Discussions

Class discussions are a great opportunity to learn from your peers and get feedback on your writing. Be an active participant in these discussions by asking questions, sharing your thoughts, and listening to others. This will help you develop a deeper understanding of the writing process and improve your own writing skills.

3. Give and Receive Feedback

Feedback is an essential part of the creative writing process. Be open to receiving feedback from your classmates and instructors, and be willing to give constructive feedback in return. This will help you identify areas where you can improve your writing and develop a stronger sense of your own writing style.

4. Practice!

Of course we believe in practice! The more you practice writing, the better you will become. Set aside time each day to write, even if it's just for a few minutes. Try different writing exercises and techniques to help you develop your skills and find your voice as a writer.

By following these tips, you can make the most of your creative writing classes and take your writing to the next level. Remember, writing is a journey, and every step you take along the way is an opportunity to learn and grow as a writer.

Ready to Become a Better Writer?

You can become a great writer if you practice deliberately. At The Write Practice, we want to help! Check out these resources below and start transforming from aspiring writer to published author today:

Learn more about The Write Practice's Writing Classes
Join 100 Day Book: Finally Finish Your Book in this Online Writing Program
Top Resources for Writers

How about you? Which creative writing classes have you gotten the most out of? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Today's post is all about choosing the best class for you. What happens when someone finds themselves in the wrong class? Set your timer for 15 minutes. Write a scene where a character thinks they've signed up for one course, and it turns out that it's not what they expected (in either a positive or a negative way). How will they react? What will they do? Write out the scene.

When your time is up, share your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop here and give feedback to a few other writers. And I hope to see you in class!

How to Write Like Louise PennyWant to write like Louise Penny? Join our new class and learn how. Learn more and sign up here.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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