• Kathleen Lees

Online Classes: Skillshare for the Curious Writers



Shortly after our wedding, during which we planned to take our honeymoon to Tenerife, my husband and I got COVID. We recently tested negative (yay!), but about the last two weeks, we’ve just been taking masked walks through our neighborhood and lazing around the house. Of course, we had to completely rearrange our summer schedule, but that’s life.


In any case, I was looking through my blog and realized that I needed to update a few things. I wrote about some websites that offered free classes in a previous post before a paywall. I took some classes over the last several months, and below is what I think are the best sites for classes, particularly with writers in mind.


LinkedIn Premium

I looked at several different organizations in my last post regarding this, and I even signed up for LinkedIn Premium. You can get 1 month free before your trial with LinkedIn Premium is over, and it offers a lot of classes on business and technology. I took two that focused just on Excel, which were extremely helpful. However, I found that for the price, roughly $30 per month, I wasn’t really using it.


Another reason someone might use LinkedIn Premium, for instance, is because you see when potential employers look at your job profile. I personally found when working in writing and teaching, that many of my connections do not come via LinkedIn. They come through outside organizations, my personal website, or other organizations that I belong to that promote writing and creative endeavors. In other words, LinkedIn just wasn’t worth the money. But for someone in a different career field (or for a different type of writer, it very well may be.)


Creativebug

Yikes! I feel terrible. I never looked into Creativebug. If I do, it’ll have to be during a holiday. I absolutely LOVE arts and crafts. But I typically don’t have the time to buy all the supplies and then sit down and do something like that. That said, the whole thing is extremely inexpensive. There is a 60 day free trial. After that, it’s only $8 a month. It’s just fun, and who can’t use a little relaxation now and then? (Me!)


Skillshare

I was really impressed with Skillshare ($14 a month). I took Susan Orlean’s class “Creative Nonfiction: Write Truth with Style.” She is a staff writer for the New Yorker.


Even with a background in this kind of thing, there was still a lot of new information for me (so it’s really great that someone with no background in writing has access to this class.)


Orlean teaches by focusing on her 1992 Esquire story “The American Man at Age Ten.” Even though Macaulay Culkin is featured on the cover of the magazine (who her editor originally wanted her to interview) she discusses why she decided to interview an ordinary 10-year-old boy who lived in a suburb of New Jersey for the piece. In addition, she further talks about how regular and ordinary people and things are essentially more interesting and complex. (One example she gives is how she got a story idea on a catalog in a friend's house that focused on taxidermy competitions.)


Particular takeaways from the class for me were still actually taking notes for interviews (I always just record…) Orlean suggested using a type of smartpen because it’s better for the interviewer to take notes as you’re engaging yourself more. It's also better to take notes for the interviewee because it makes them feel that you’re more engaged in what they have to share.


In addition, in thinking back to journalism school, she also highlighted some typical “rules” that she despised or some things that she did differently that worked for her, including making an outline when creating your story (in case the story changed when you were writing or revising it.) She suggested writing and rewriting all handwritten notes on the computer, but putting your “outline” on note cards.


Lastly, and my favorite thing that she stated, is that no story ever has a real conclusion. And that’s because no subject can ever really be thoroughly exhausted enough. The simple hope is that the reader (or majority of readers) are following a similar experience that you are, and they learned something new and can move on.


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