William Faulkner once said to “read, read, read. Read everything-- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” You can easily replace the word “read” with “learn” because, as we all know, reading is learning, and the more you learn, the more tools you acquire for your writing arsenal. This is why I prompt every writer to visit the following sites:
Each of these links leads to websites that allow you to either audit online college courses from prestigious universities like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, etc. for free or take courses to earn certificates for a fee (always a great resume booster). Finally, classes you can take for fun without the pressure of grades!
These courses don’t count towards college credit, but I have found them to be an invaluable resource for writing. Through free online writing courses, I’ve relearned old lessons from new perspectives and learned new writing techniques from established bestselling authors. If there’s a subject I need to research that’s essential for a story that goes beyond just a simple Google search, I’ll peruse through some of the courses offered on these websites: there’s everything from computer science, architecture, humanities, law, etc. Best of all, by auditing a course or two when I’m suffering from stale ideas or writer’s block, I find that my writing feels more inspired and ideas begin to flow.
Everybody knows that reading the authors you admire will help you become a better writer, but nobody cares how good of a writer you are if you don’t do your research. It’s a good thing, then, that we live in a time where almost anything is accessible on the internet, even free classes. So why not learn from the experts? Take a gander and revel in the wonders of history, learn the lingo of computer science, or retake a few writing classes to get your pen moving.