Recently, I took a little course on the Udemy platform called “Becoming a Writer“, by Cathy Presland ($29 for about 50 minutes of lectures, not including time it takes to do the 12 assignments). The course introduces you to fiction writing, and how tell a story to the reader in an effective manner.
The course clearly centers around the 12 exercises – it’s the tagline for the course, as well as the central offering once you get into the course. So while it took only a few minutes to watch the introduction to each exercise, I found myself pausing the video at the end and doing the assignment.
Cathy intended for this process to take a couple of weeks, as evidenced by the fact that she says “see you tomorrow” at the end of each exercise. That means you only need to set aside a few minutes per day for this – 2-3 minutes to watch the video, and however long it takes to do the work. For instance, the first exercise has a hard time-limit of 3 minutes to complete.
Any writing course – the good ones at least – should force you to practice the craft through doing actual writing. The bad thing about the Udemy platform is there does not exist very easy ways to test students knowledge of what they have learned. Now a creative pursuit like writing will always be difficult to grade, more so in a class with 10,000+ students, but this course could perhaps use some more pauses to ensure the listener picked up on what was being taught. It’s a tiny quibble, ultimately, and doesn’t take away from the quality of what is being taught.
I really liked the graphic design on this course for some reason, more than courses I’ve taken in a while. The font is really cool, and the graphics just have that “professional” quality that show they were not done by someone with an analytical mind (like me) but an artistic one. It’s a small touch that makes the course nicer in my opinion.
I am not sure that by taking this course, one will become a non-fiction writer. Obviously there are complexities about creating a compelling plot, character development, and the hundreds and hundreds (and thousands) of hours that go into writing a novel. But it’s too much to expect an online course to make you a writer. You need to follow up this course with joining a community of other writers (like Cathy’s The Big Book Project website), take more training, and practice writing. You need to show your book to others, take their feedback, and make it better. Honing of a craft is a well-worn process and the modern age has not changed it all that much.
If you’ve always wanted to become a writer, if you have a fiction book inside you screaming to get out, you might consider starting with this little course, get into the habit of daily practice, and move on from there.