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Are online writing classes worth it?
I tend to be a cheapo, ahem, frugal when it comes to certain things. Writing classes aren’t cheap, but I’m totally willing to pay a premium for them, as long as I know I’m learning and gaining skills as a writer.
When I first began researching, I paid $13 on a whim for a Domestika class. I thought, if it’s stupid at least it’s only $13. The one-hour pre-recorded class was so fluffy I found myself mourning the 13 bucks. (That’s like two or three Starbucks coffees.)
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I’d like to believe my expectations for my book are realistic. I know I probably won’t make much money from it and that’s fine. I do, however, want it to be engaging and emotional and a page-turner. In order to do that, I knew early on I would need professional help, be it from a book coach, a class, or a writing community.
After tons of research and rabbit holes, I concluded that I needed a live teacher. None of this pre-recorded crap. I also considered a book coach (I’ll write about my experience with almost signing up with one, in a future Substack.)
So many kinds of writing courses. Which one?
I looked at platforms like MasterClass, Udemy, and Coursera. I found a lot of helpful Reddit threads about book coaches and book coaching programs. These are 1:1 and the average cost was around $400+ per month. A coach is an accountability resource that gives you homework and on some level, helps you with feedback and structure for your book. But at this point, I felt like I was putting the cart before the horse and I didn’t want to make such an expensive commitment so early on, especially since a lot of programs lock you into a six-month program.
I also signed up for the free trial of Coursera and after seven days, decided it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t motivating.
I craved more of a community—other writers who were in the same boat as me. So with this in mind, I knew an online class with a real, live human would be my best bet. But which teacher?
Memoir Writing for Geniuses
I found myself going back again and again to Wendy Dale’s YouTube page to devour every single one of her easy-to-understand videos multiple times. She has a brand called Memoir Writing for Geniuses. I liked that she focused specifically on memoir writing.
Compared to other teachers, Wendy’s explanations about how to structure a memoir were clear. She always had a useful example to back up whatever she was discussing, usually excerpts from published memoirs. I learned more in her free course than I did reading books about how to write your memoir, other YouTube videos, paid webinars, and mini-courses.
I kept wishing, Wendy please offer a class already. I noticed her last class was completely sold out. I was determined to get into the next one. She only allows 6 to 8 students in a class at a time, which also appealed to me. I’m all about intimate group discussions.
I signed up for her newsletter, joined her Facebook group, and set notifications to get her latest YouTube videos. It’s stalker time.
Then, as if she had heard me, I got an email that announced she was opening enrollment for her class on structure one final time. Eek! I set my alarm on my phone so that the minute the class opened, I’d be the first to sign up.
This is exactly what I do before checking in on Southwest so I can be in boarding group A even though I end up being in group B. I was thrilled when I saw my enrollment went through on her site. Yay!
My structure is getting there
I’m now in week seven of class and I’ve learned so much about structure. As I wrote before, when I don’t have a roadmap, I procrastinate. I hate that feeling.
Classes are once a week for two hours. Wendy uses this time to go over the assignments we’re given and to give us feedback. Through absorbing conversations about my classmates’ assignments and Wendy’s specific suggestions, it all started to make more sense.
My memoir began shifting and taking shape each week. I started to see the bigger picture through a structure that made sense, both from a timeline point of view and storyline.
In fact, all of my classmates went through this structure and story metamorphosis. From week one to where I am now, I know I have something way more compelling and clear.
So now, with only a few more weeks of class left, I feel confident that I almost have a solid outline in place. I banged out 2,300 words this morning based on Wendy’s tailored assignment for me.
I love the progress I’m making, and the fact that this is all tied in with NaNoWriMo is even more fulfilling and motivating! BTW, if you’re interested in signing up for NaNoWriMo, it’s free and a great way to connect with your writing community. My username is Claire809.
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