Today we’d like to bring Freelance-Zone readers a closer look at WritersCollege.com, a resource for writers who want to learn more about the craft. Enjoy this Q & A with Stephen Morrill, the Director, and be sure and drop by their site to check out all that they have to offer…
1. Can you tell Freelance-Zone readers a bit about when Writers College began and what it is?
Sure. It’s actually WritersCollege.com (that’s the listed name with the Florida Department of State and the trademark too). Started in 1998, it’s been a labor of love for me since then. (I have to love it because I make almost no money from it. The classes are very cheap and the teachers and overhead get the money while the students get the knowledge.)
Students may register online or by postal mail. All class materials go back and forth by e-mail.
2. What types of classes do you offer, and for what kinds of writers?
We offer about 60 online writing courses for beginners and experienced writers alike. They run the gamut from greeting cards (seriously – good income there – who knew?) to the various aspects of fiction, poetry, essays and the like, to nonfiction books, magazines, newspaper writing. We have grammar courses and even a course in photography for writers. I teach five of the courses and some 30 other teachers cover the rest. I suggest that people go to our catalog page to look over the full list. It’s rather long.
3. Who are your instructors and what are their qualifications?
Ah. This is the biggest sticking-point for most would-be teachers because WritersCollege.com is not an academic degree-granting institution and operates by very different rules. We actually expect teachers to know what they’re talking about. Specifically, we look for teachers with, in the following order of importance…
- Real-world experience in doing the thing they will teach. The more recent the experience, the better. The longer the writing career, the better.
- Publication in widely-read media, and the more the better. Obscure scholarly journals don’t count.
- Ability to relate to students’ needs, and willingness to be flexible enough to meet those.
- Educational background that contributes to their subject, and ability to teach that subject.
We’re not dogmatic about the above because circumstances and writing genres vary widely. But it’s a starting point. Would-be teachers — and we’re always on the prowl for additions to our catalog — can read up on it on our site.
4. What are some of the advantages to taking classes via Writers College as opposed to other places?
Well, our motto is “You can go to school in your pajamas” and the convenience of being able to sit down, in your own home and at a time of your choosing, to read the lessons and do the homework, is a major benefit.
But do not underestimate these courses. I have taught some of mine, as distance learning classes, for several university systems. Some of the teachers have had similar experience. These are serious, professional-level educational courses.
You get three things from our classes:
- Written lessons that are sent by email or (sometimes) posted to private web pages, but easy to access in any event. And, of course, you can print them out for later reference.
- Homework assignments that your teacher reviews.
- The teacher’s brain to pick for as long as the course lasts. These teachers are grizzled warriors in the writing trenches and can answer most questions you might have, not just about the immediate material, but about the writing lifestyle.
5. How long do courses run, and are they costly?
We have standardized 4, 6 and 8-week lengths. Most courses offer an option to double that time limit for a small extra fee. We don’t really push that but we do offer the option only because some people are really busy and need two weeks to do one week’s homework assignment.
Your course starts the Monday after we receive your registration, so every student gets on-on-one attention. We do expect the student to complete the course within the time frame. The current price is pegged at $30/week, so a four-week course would cost $120.
But we also offer – and so far as I know no one else does so – a ten-day, no-questions-asked refund policy. If you tell me, within ten days of the course start, that you want out, you get your money back.
6. Where can writers go for more information about courses?
Thought you would never ask. The web site and the course catalog. Each course catalog listing also lists the email of that teacher. You are welcome to ask questions of myself or of the teachers before you decide to try us.
Stephen Morrill has been freelancing full-time since 1984. During that time he has written more than 1000 articles for national and local magazines and for newspapers. For ten years he wrote a biweekly column about maritime and he has written about maritime shipping for other trade publications. For ten years, as a Reuters News Agency correspondent covering the west coast of Florida, his writing was been used by newspapers, radio and television around the world.
In addition to general-interest articles, Steve has written extensively about wine, humor, international shipping and trade, business and finance, architecture and the outdoors, and military affairs. He has edited all or parts of several local and regional magazines.
Living in a destination state, Steve has done occasional travel writing for two decades. Most recently, he created a travel focus that includes articles, books, e-books, web sites and blogs.
Steve has been honored by the Florida Magazine Association for his short humor and by the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects for his writing about architecture.
Steve is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and edits their web site. He was founding president of the Bay Area Professional Writers Guild, a select group of full-time professionals in the Tampa Bay Area. He was one of the charter members of the Tampa Writers Alliance, an organization for beginning writers, and conducted their nonfiction training workshop for many years.
In addition to his ongoing magazine assignments and the occasional brochure or other non-magazine work, Steve wrote City in the Sun, a History of St. Petersburg, Florida and Flying the Andes, a ghost-written account of Pan American-Grace Airways. Fun for the Family: Florida (Globe Pequot’s perennial travel guide) is in bookstores now and the e-book, Florida Freebies & Cheapies is available at the VacationFunFlorida.com web site.
Steve started teaching nonfiction writing in 1988 for America Online. He has lectured throughout Florida on the subject of freelance writing. Since 1998, Steve has run WritersCollege.com which, with more than 60 courses, is one of the largest online correspondence writing schools.