• Strong communication and writing skills will help you succeed in any profession.
  • Online classes are an affordable and flexible way to learn new writing strategies, as well as practice and receive feedback on your work.
  • All of the classes on this list are taught by accomplished, award-winning writers who have decades of experience.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.


Good writing skills can take you far (just take it from a business major who wormed her way into editorial). Regardless of your profession, clear language, engaging tone, and strategic delivery help you connect with your audience and achieve your goals. How you communicate, down to the nitty-gritty of punctuation, can make a huge difference - even up to $5 million (R88.2 million), in one case.

Year after year, strong written communication skills top the list of employers' most-desired qualities in hires, but good writing doesn't come easily or instinctively to everyone. As with any skill, you won't get any better at writing simply by reading books or watching videos about it.

Online classes are affordable, flexible ways to not only learn the proper strategies but also practice and receive feedback on your writing. And who better to learn from than actual published authors, writers, and editors?

Discover more online classes

The following classes are all taught by accomplished, award-winning writers who have decades of experience in communicating ideas, telling stories, and captivating audiences. Some specialise in fiction, while others employ storytelling tricks to make even the driest facts shine.

If you see the word "creative" in the title, don't immediately dismiss the class. All the courses have valuable lessons to learn for making your writing more effective, whether you're in a creative industry or not.

Improve your writing skills by taking these 11 classes taught by experienced authors, writers, and editors.


Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context, Craft

Skillshare

Take Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context, Craft on Skillshare here

The course: This short 40-minute class breaks down the fundamentals of narrative storytelling and what makes a story different from a mere anecdote. Learn the "4 C's" of storytelling and see them in action in one of the teacher's own short stories. The fun final project is to write a short story about something that happened on a single block in your hometown over the course of one hour.

The teacher: Daniel José Older is the New York Times bestselling author of the "Bone Street Rumba" urban fantasy series and the YA novel "Shadowshaper." "Shadowshaper" was a New York Times Notable Book of 2015 and named one of Esquire's "80 Books Every Person Should Read." His short stories and essays have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, and a number of other sites.


The Writer's Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit

Skillshare

Take The Writer's Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit on Skillshare here

The course: Writing should be approachable and fun, not torturous. By optimising your space for your writing style, creating a daily writing routine, and gathering and acting on inspiration, you can build a long-term writing process you can rely on for years to come.

The teacher: Simon Van Booy's short story collection "Love Begins in Winter" won the 2009 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. He has written two other short story collections as well as three anthologies of philosophy, and his work has been translated into over a dozen languages throughout the world. In 2013, he founded Writers for Children, a project that helps young people build confidence in their storytelling abilities through annual awards.


The Designer's Guide to Writing and Research

Skillshare

Take The Designer's Guide to Writing and Research at Skillshare here

The course: Geared towards designers, this course illuminates the parallels between writing and design. You'll learn about the professional importance of research and writing to designers today, best practices for developing your voice, and creative ways to communicate. The final project is a 500-word essay on an object in your wallet, bag, or pocket.

The teacher: Steven Heller writes the Visuals column for the New York Times Book Review and is the editor of the AIGA Journal of Graphic Design. A former New York Times art director, he is the author, co-author, or editor of over 170 books on design and popular culture, and also regularly contributes to design publications.


Ninja Writing: The Four Levels Of Writing Mastery

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Take Ninja Writing: The Four Levels Of Writing Mastery on Udemy here

The course: Ninja Writing is a top-rated, bestselling Udemy course that teaches you how to turn disjointed thoughts and ideas into clear, beautiful narratives. Marketers, bloggers, executives, journalists, copywriters, and students will benefit from the powerful lessons in this four-hour class.

The teacher: Shani Raja is a former Wall Street Journal editor who has written for The Economist, Financial Times, and Bloomberg News. He has also taught advanced writing skills to professionals and edited for leading global companies like Microsoft, IBM, and PwC.


Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass

Masterclass

Take Malcolm Gladwell's Masterclass on writing here

The course: In 24 lessons, you'll learn how to find, research, and write stories that capture big ideas. This is Gladwell's first-ever online class, where he analyzes his own works to reveal his unique creative process. He also answers select student questions during virtual office hours.

The teacher: Malcolm Gladwell has written for The New Yorker since 1996. His fascinating books, which include "The Tipping Point," "Blink," and "Outliers," reveal the most unexpected insights into our world. "The Tipping Point" was named as one of the best books of the decade by Amazon customers, The A.V. Club, and The Guardian, and was Barnes & Noble's fifth bestselling nonfiction book of the decade.


Writing With Flair: How To Become An Exceptional Writer

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Take Writing With Flair: How To Become An Exceptional Writer on Udemy here

The course: Another bestseller from Shani Raja, this course promises to "dramatically improve the quality of your writing in as little as days or weeks" through a few key principles. Both new students and experienced writers have benefitted from the course, which teaches you how to sharpen your words and command the reader's attention.

The teacher: Shani Raja is a former Wall Street Journal editor who has written for The Economist, Financial Times, and Bloomberg News. He has also taught advanced writing skills to professionals and edited for leading global companies like Microsoft, IBM, and PwC.


Academic and Business Writing

Strelka Institute/Flickr

Take Academic and Business Writing on edX here

The course: In this five-week course you'll focus on the nitty-gritty of writing, like vocabulary, tone, diction, and editing. Students will learn persuasive writing techniques and essay development tricks, as well as gain skills in proofreading, self-editing, revision, tone, and vocabulary. Assignments include short writing assignments, quizzes, journal entries, and longer essays, and students have the opportunity to focus all assignments on areas of interest to them.

The teacher: Dr. Maggie Sokolik is the Director of College Writing Programs at the University of California, Berkeley. She has a PhD in Applied Linguistics and has been on faculty at Harvard, MIT, and other top universities. She is the author of more than 20 ESL and composition textbooks, as well as English Language Specialist for the US Department of State.


Writing With Confidence: Writing Beginner To Writing Pro

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Take Writing With Confidence: Writing Beginner to Writing Pro on Udemy here

The course: Learn powerful principles that can be applied to all types of writing, including emails, speeches, news, and even presentations. The course takes you through fundamentals from techniques to beat writer's block to lessons on getting readers hooked and creating a clear, persuasive angle.

The teacher: Dr. Clare Lynch is a former Financial Times journalist who teaches academic writing and professional communication at the University of Cambridge. She has written for organisations like Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, and UBS and is the author of the business-writing blog Good Copy, Bad Copy.


Creative Writing Specialization

Wesleyan University/Facebook

Take the Creative Writing Specialisation on Coursera here

The course: This specialisation created by Wesleyan University consists of four courses, each taught by a teacher below, and covers elements of three major creative writing genres: short story, narrative essay, and memoir. It culminates in a challenging capstone project in which you'll draft, rewrite, and complete a substantial original story in the genre of your choosing.

The teachers: Salvatore Scibona was named to The New Yorker's "20 under 40: Fiction Writers to Watch" and is the author of 2008 National Book Award finalist "The End," the research for which he conducted while on a Fulbright Fellowship.

Amy Bloom, author of two New York Times best-sellers and three collections of short stories, has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Vogue, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award for Fiction. Her work has been translated into fifteen languages.

Brando Skyhorse is an Associate Professor of English at Indiana University in Bloomington who won the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the 2011 Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction for his debut novel "The Madonnas of Echo Park."

Amity Gaige is the author of three novels, "O My Darling", "The Folded World", and "Schroder", which was shortlisted for The Folio Prize in 2014. To date, "Schroder" has been published in eighteen countries.


Creative Nonfiction: Write Truth with Style

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Take Creative Nonfiction: Write Truth with Style on Skillshare here

The course: The best nonfiction makes facts compelling and interesting to read, but it's not easy to do this. This course takes students through Susan Orlean's writing process, from finding a topic to making final edits, and helps them polish their own creative processes. The class project is a 1,000-word profile on someone you find mysterious.

The teacher: Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992 and is the author of eight books, including New York Times bestseller "Rin Tin Tin" and "The Orchid Thief," which was later adapted into Spike Jonze's "Adaptation," in which Meryl Streep portrayed Orlean.


Finding Your Writing Voice: How to Express Your Unique Self in Your Work

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Take Finding Your Writing Voice: How to Express Your Unique Self in Your Work on Skillshare here

The course: You don't have to lose your unique personality when you write; in fact, it's what will make your writing stand out in the crowd. Using pop culture references like Beyonce and Britney Spears, the class discusses different voices and explores ways to take chances with your writing.

The teacher: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is a former Entertainment Weekly writer and current TV columnist for BBC Culture who has also written for The New York Times Book Review, Fast Company, New York's Vulture, and The Verge. She wrote the New York Times bestseller "Seinfeldia: The Secret World of the Show About Nothing that Changed Everything."

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