Free online resources for writers

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There’s no skirting around the fact that 2020 has been the year from hell. So many people worldwide are dealing, quite literally, with life and death. Heartbreak and devastation. Overwhelming grief. In the midst of this global tragedy, it can be hard to find the will or the energy to create. If, however, you are keen to engage with the writing community, expand your knowledge, or learn new skills, there is some good news. The 2020 cloud has a sizeable silver lining.

Online learning opportunities are cropping up everywhere, and many of them are free. Although by no means comprehensive, I’ve collected links to a few short writing courses and resources which I’ve found useful this year. The best part? You can access them all for free from the comfort of your home:

  • Dervla McTiernan’s Writing Studio: Throughout June, Better Reading featured a weekly writing livestream session with crime writer, Dervla McTiernan. The four half-hour videos are still available to watch on the Better Reading Facebook page, and are highly recommended. Dervla is a warm, engaging teacher, and her sessions are full of practical tips for novelists.
  • Australian Writers’ Centre Creative Conversations: I’ve been a fan of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for years, and this series is a spin-off. It features livestream interviews (still available to watch on demand) with authors and literary agents. The conversation with agent, Annabel Barker, is particularly relevant to authors preparing to pitch agents.
  • Writing NSW First Friday Club: One Friday a month, Writing NSW hosts a lunchtime (AEST) session on Zoom with a publishing industry professional. These interviews are interesting and informative, and offer useful insights into the inner workings of publishing houses in particular. Attendance is free and is not restricted to members of Writing NSW.
  • Online Writers Festivals: The program for this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival is online, and for most sessions, the tickets are ‘pay what you can’. For those who might not have been able to attend otherwise, it’s an opportunity to listen to some brilliant talks about books and writing. One of the first Australian festivals to take the plunge and change their format to online was the Newcastle Writers Festival. You can still watch many of those sessions on YouTube.
  • Podcasts: Not strictly online, but an excellent free resource nonetheless. Many established writing podcasts have been pumping out extra episodes during lockdown to support debut authors during this difficult year, and you can learn so much from tuning in. Some of my favourites are The First Time Podcast, So You Want To Be A Writer, Writes for Women, The Garret, Words and Nerds and The Writer’s Room with Charlotte Wood.

This list is by no means exhaustive. A quick Google search will lead you to free writing MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) run by international universities as well as printables and educational blog posts. And if you’re willing to shell out a few dollars, most writers’ centres have excellent online courses on offer which often involve face-to-face teaching via Zoom and the opportunity for feedback.

Please let me know which free writing resources you’ve discovered lately.

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