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10+ free online creative writing courses in the USA to learn to write a novel, book, memoir, short stories or poetry. These free online writing classes, workshops and courses are for new writers and authors with experience wanting to learn and improve writing fiction and creative nonfiction.
So why not enroll on to writing classes at a time and place that suits you without the need to attend university or college in person. The following online classes for creative writing are based in the United States but can be accessed anywhere (unless there are specific country restrictions) and on various devices.
The following free online creative writing courses in the USA featured are provided by expert and professional teachers, published authors, and established e-learning platforms.
Learn the foundations of storytelling, the basics to improve your writing, and enhance your creativity with these free virtual courses.
If you’ve always wanted to improve your writing skills online for free, try creative writing but you're not sure where to start, or write fiction to become a successful author, check out these 10+ free online creative writing courses available in the USA.
1. Write Your First Novel – Michigan State University
If your dream is to write a novel but you’re not sure where to start, this free online writing course from Michigan State University via Coursera could help you. On this course you will be taught how to write and complete a 50,000-word novel.
So don’t put off any longer writing your first novel. In this course “you’ll learn to break down your creative endeavor into components and you’ll discover a process that will allow you to do what few have done: produce and complete a full-length work of fiction in the form of a 50,000-word novel”.
Learner Review: "You teach storytelling like no other teacher. I cannot put in words how much I appreciate it. This daily writing, and the product that comes with it, have been a great mental support during the pandemic time. Art is a support for life, as Stephen King said, and thanks to you I experienced it first-hand during this time. I think I will keep writing 500 words per night for the rest of my life. I owe it to you. You taught me how to write a novel, and it works every time. Huge thanks, and wishing you all the best."
On this free writing course you will learn:
About this course
View course: Write Your First Novel – Coursera
2. Storytelling for Social Change – The University of Michigan
A free online creative writing course from The University of Michigan via FutureLearn where students will "discover how crafting an engaging story can deliver a message that inspires audiences and effects real change".
The tutor for this course is Anita Gonzalez (Ph.D.), who is a Professor of Theatre and Associate Dean at the University of Michigan. Anita promotes engaged learning, internationalism in the arts, and interdisciplinary research.
The topics covered in this free writing course include harnessing the power of storytelling and improving your communication skills, learning how storytelling can communicate powerful ideas, and utilising the power of visual storytelling. If you would like to learn the top tips and advice for writing an impactful story, this course could benefit you.
View course: Storytelling for Social Change – University of Michigan
3. Endless Story Ideas – Creative Writing Now
This free online writing course from Creative Writing Now helps writers utilize methods to "generate story ideas whenever you need them", which can then be developed for future projects.
A student review for Creative Writing Now online classes:
"I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the lessons and feel they were very helpful in introducing new ideas and perspectives to my writing. I am sure I will go back frequently to review them for reference during many of my future writing projects. Thanks again!"
View course: Endless Story Ideas – Creative Writing Now
4. Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop – California Institute of the Arts
If you would like to improve your poetry writing, learn key poetic terms and devices as well as understand how poetic composition tools can be used, this free online writing course from the California Institute of the Arts via Coursera may be the course for you.
Learner Review: "This was a superb workshop. I enjoyed myself thoroughly and learned a lot that came in my way. Grasping poetry devices taught in such an fun way was really awesome. The mentors were very supportive."
On this free writing course you will learn:
About this course:
View course: Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop – Coursera
6. Free Writing Courses and Tutorials All Levels – Udemy
If you would like a more advance writing course, check out more free online writing courses from Udemy which are applicable for all levels of writers.
Here are a few of Udemy's free online writing courses for all writing levels:
You can find a full list of Udemy's free online writing courses here.
5. Free Writing Courses and Tutorials Beginner Level – Udemy
Why not have a go at a free Udemy online writing course for beginners? The course content is the same high quality as their paid courses, but course participants don’t receive a certificate of completion or have Q&A access to instructors.
Udemy is a well-known and popular e-learning platform that teaches millions of students globally with its 130,000 courses. Other courses provided include health and fitness, business, programming, marketing, and much more.
Here are some of Udemy's free online writing courses for beginner level:
Once you've tried a free course (or many) from Udemy, you can enroll in one of the numerous in-depth paid course with low prices during flash sales.
7. How to Craft a Killer Short Story – Reedsy
This free online creative writing course from Reedsy comprises 10 lessons on writing short stories. Participants will "find out what writing skills are required in the art of a great short story and how to put them to good use while submitting to short story magazines".
The course is taught by Laura Mae Isaacman, who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn, New York. Among the writers she has worked with are Noam Chomsky, Joyce Carol Oates, and T.C. Boyle. She is the co-founder of Tweed’s Magazine of Literature & Art, and has lectured on the topics of writing and publishing.
The topics covered in this free writing course include an introduction to short story writing, building characters, embracing the restrictions of a short story, stepping back after the first draft, editing your work, and more. If you would like to write succinct, character-driven and clear short stories, the learning and information provided on this course could benefit you.
View course: How to Craft a Killer Short Story – Reedsy
8. Writing for Young Readers – Alison
On this free course from Alison, you will “learn how to write and publish stories using character, plot, setting and theme with this free online writing course”.
This writing class aims to show new and aspiring writers how to write for young readers. It also offers a solid foundation in editing and publishing as well as writing. It features an interview with Uma Krishnaswami, the author of picture books and children's novels, and Apirana Taylor, who is a novelist, storyteller, and poet.
In this free online writing course, you will learn about writing structures, plot, language, character, setting, forms, theme, genres, and proofreading.
You will also learn about the various publishing options – self-publishing, traditional publishing and digital publishing – and working with industry professionals so that your finalised and published book becomes a reality and is available to buy as a print copy and/or ebook.
Whether you want to write in the fantasy, adventure, contemporary or historical genres, or stories, picture books, poems, plays or nonfiction, this course could be the ideal option for you.
*Students need to achieve a score of 80% or higher on any course to receive a certificate and become an Alison Graduate.
It is free to enroll, study and complete all Alison courses. There is the option to upgrade your account to a premium monthly package which enables subscribers access to more features for a fee. The difference between the free and premium packages on Alison can be found here.
View course: Writing for Young Readers – Alison
9. How to Stop Talking about Writing a Book and Actually Start Doing It – Reedsy
If you’ve started to write a book but need some help and advice to carry on to complete your manuscript or you have an idea but you’re not sure how to begin, this is another free online writing course from Reedsy that could benefit you.
The instructor for this course is Jennie Nash; she has written four novels and three memoirs. She is also a private book coach whose clients regularly receive national self-publishing awards, are signed up with top New York agents, and have book deals with publishing houses such as Simon & Schuster, and Random House.
This is a 10-day course where the 5-minute lessons are delivered to your inbox each day. Sign up to a free account is required to get instant access to the course.
So if you want to stop talking about writing a book and actually start doing it or finally complete that final draft, this course may be the ideal option for you.
View course: How to Stop Talking about Writing a Book and Actually Start Doing It – Reedsy
10. Creative Writing Course – Free Training Tutorial
From Free Training Tutorial, this free online creative writing course covers the purpose of creative writing, how to create a character, how to create a setting, the theme of a story, and point of view writing.
This course aims to "help you find that inner writer". All the course content is available on the website with no registration required.
View course: Creative Writing Course – Free Training Tutorial
Learning from a specialized writing course will help to improve your creativity and storytelling proficiency, so taking advantage of a free writing course will boost your confidence and motivation as well as enabling you to write your book, novel, short story, or poetry.
If you make time to write each day, even for just a few minutes, and apply the techniques and tips from a writing class, you will see the improvements and growth as a writer.
While you keep writing, developing, and learning, you’ll soon see how much a difference practice and utilizing the information from a writing course can make.
All the best on the next step of your writing journey!
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