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7 Online Writing Courses Every Writer Should Know About

7 Online Writing Courses Every Writer Should Know About

Being able to write isn’t something you’re just born with For most people it’s an acquired skill that you have to work at. Sure, there are people who aren’t naturally as good at writing as others, but there are ways to hone those muscles, some without ever leaving your house. There is a plethora of online writing courses available to teach you a lot of different lessons about a lot of different kinds of writing. Here are 7 particularly effective online writing courses for aspiring writers.

1. Be a Freelance Blogger

Be A Freelance Blogger

    If you want to do the work I’m doing more now, blogging for a notable website, then this is your best bet. Successful blogger Sophie Lizard has a writing course almost as awesome as her reptilian surname. She’ll send you a new email every day for 28 days, each with one small step you can do to become a better or more marketable writer. By only asking you to do one thing at a time, it reduces the risk that you’ll become overwhelmed. Instead, it’s one of the few online writing courses that can seamlessly fit into your schedule. As someone who has benefitted from the knowledge Sophie shares on her blog (it’s how I got my job at Lifehack!) I highly recommend it.

    Price: $99

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    2. Make a Living Writing

    Make A Living Writing

      One of themost important tutors in my freelance writing education was Carol Tice. Specifically, her e-books and email courses were extremely helpful. Here’s one in which she offers a 1-hour podcast and transcript, plus “fear-busting tips from 17 pro writers.” The podcast covers how to move forward even when you’re worried about failing, take on new kinds of freelance projects, and stop being such a perfectionist. It includes a story of how one successful freelancer made a career out of writing even though, at the beginning, he didn’t know a word of English! Tice also has more in-depth online writing courses that you have to pay for, but those are on a more seasonal basis.

      Price: Free

      3. Digital Journalism Certification Program

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      Digital Journalism Certification Program

        Mediabistro’s Digital Journalism Certificate Program offers a lot of practical training in creating content for new media platforms. The curriculum was put together by media pros who know how to produce multimedia packages, utilize social media in a lot of different ways, and write and edit for the web. You get to choose your electives, giving you the chance to learn more about podcasting, blogging, online video and other mediums. It’s definitely pricey, but Mediabistro has a good reputation. For one, it has one of the best job boards for careers in old and new media. Plus, it’s much more of a full-fledged program than the previous two online writing courses on this list. If you’re looking for an extensive learning experience in journalism, this is a good option.

        Price: $1650

        4. Brand Writing

        Brand Writing

          Mediabistro has another high quality but much less expensive online writing course. It’s for brand writing, which is writing for a company in a way that matches their image. It’s one of the most marketable kinds of writing, a must-have skill for people working in public relations, marketing and even for small business entrepreneurs. You’ll learn how and why people display such fierce brand loyalty. Ever wonder why people are so in love with their Apple products or Google apps? This is where you can find out. By the end of the course you will have a brand writing dossier with your mission statement, a repositioning brief, examples in email and social media, and more.

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          Price: $385

          5. Creative Writing 101

          Creative Writing 101

            On the opposite end of the spectrum from writing for companies, Creative Writing 101 is about writing something more personal. This is a six week program that forces you to write in ways you haven’t before. You’ll get ways to find new ideas, feedback from an instructor, new writing techniques to use, good writing habits to implement, and a stronger awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. All this in a low-pressure environment.

            Price: $324

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            6. Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy

            If you’re absolutely determined to see your name on the big screen, you might be serious and crazy enough to pay out big money for a course from the prestigious New York Film Academy. There aren’t many places you’ll find a better education in screenwriting (you definitely won’t find it on the internet). This is one of those online writing courses that, for the right person, might be worth its enormous cost.

            Price: $4,500

            7. Comics Experience

            Comics Experience

              Want to try something a bit more eclectic? You can give writing comics a shot. Comics is a really interesting medium that’s much more than capes and tights, and with Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience course you can learn from the best how to add words to pictures. All the online writing courses on this list are great, but this is probably the most fun.

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              Price: $595

              Featured photo credit: Gene Wilburn via flickr.com

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              Matt OKeefe

              Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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              Last Updated on July 21, 2021

              The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

              The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

              No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

              Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

              Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

              A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

              Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

              In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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              From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

              A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

              For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

              This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

              The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

              That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

              Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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              The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

              Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

              But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

              The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

              The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

              A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

              For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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              But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

              If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

              For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

              These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

              For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

              How to Make a Reminder Works for You

              Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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              Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

              Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

              My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

              Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

              I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

              More on Building Habits

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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              Reference

              [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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