Discover the Best Creative Writing Classes in NYC
Creative writing is the fascinating process by which someone makes up a story with plot, characters, and settings and then puts it into language. And not just any language. While there is a worldwide and venerable tradition of oral literature that is as old as language itself, creative writing calls for the storyteller to have command of written language. Unlike an oral story, which evaporates into nothingness as soon as it is told, a written story can be reread again and again and always comes out the same way. Accordingly, written language calls for precision and polished effects and a mastery of craft that includes, but is not limited to, proper grammar, controlled syntax, and exact diction. The City has millions of stories; a creative writing class will enable you to be able to relate some of them.
Why You Should Learn Creative Writing in NYC
Living in New York City, you have before you so much teeming humanity that you probably can fill a small collection of short stories with just the characters who are waiting with you for the 104 bus at the corner of 66th and Broadway. All you need is to know how to write them down and you’ll have an exciting and amusing hobby to keep you busy on those lonely nights that are an inevitable part of life in the greatest of the world’s metropolises. Creative writing is a healthy and amusing outlet, a far more fun way to process reality than merely keeping a journal with its repeated first-person pronouns, and a means of retaining your sanity in the face of the manifold stressors that are also part of life in the Big City.
Although you may not be able to eke out a living for yourself as an author of fiction, your creative writing hobby can nevertheless help you in other ways, too. Although no one will confuse creative writing with business writing, writing is still writing, and practice makes perfect. You’ll discover that if you’re writing in your spare time, your writing for work will improve. So will your social media posts. Even your text messages will get better, too, and rely less on emojis and more on the power of pure language. Working on a novel after work (or, if your supervisor isn’t looking, perhaps at work as well) will, without question, make you into a better writer. That’s no guarantee that you’ll get promoted as a result, but putting your best writerly foot forward can be the beginning of any number of positive outcomes.
In-Person Creative Writing Classes & Schools in NYC
An interesting place to begin your study of creative writing in New York City is the Writer’s Studio in the West Village (take the 1 to Christopher Street, and you’re practically there.) Poet Philip Schultz (Luxury, The God of Loneliness) outlined his theory of Persona Writing in his book Comforts of the Abyss: the Art of Persona Writing. The idea behind Persona Writing is that you can learn to write by assuming the personas of celebrated authors and trying on their styles, not so much for size so you can imitate them, but so that you can learn from them. In the process, you’ll gradually shed your literary inhibitions and discover your own voice.
Meeting for two hours and 15 minutes per week for eight weeks, the Writers Studio’s Workshop in Fiction and Poetry (Level 1) teaches students the rudiments of the Persona Writing method. Short pieces of published texts are used as the bases of classroom exercises and take-home assignments that allow students to experiment with different authors’ voices. The class also allows for positive feedback from your fellow participants.
Uptown and on the East Side, the 92nd Street Y, famous for its arts classes and concert series alike, offers aspiring writers Reading to Write with Myla Goldberg. This course isn’t a workshop in which students share and critique each others’ work. Instead, novelist Goldberg (Bee Season, Feast Your Eyes) uses the class time to reverse engineer other authors’ works in order to show students how they operate and how students may construct their own literary efforts. Each of the four class sessions includes a guided exercise to help students assimilate the week’s lesson.
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn (Greenwood), Alaa Al Aswani Creative Writing Workshop offers an Intensive Creative Writing Weekend. Split across both Saturday and Sunday, this class allows students an opportunity to study the craft of storytelling in depth. Classes are taught by novelist Alaa Al Aswani (The Yacoubian Building, The Automobile Club of Egypt), who has been giving writing workshops in Brooklyn since 2018. An Arabic version of the workshop is available as well.
Aspiring screenwriters will be interested in the 1-on-1 workshops offered by the New York International Screenplay Awards. These come in a variety of flavors covering key aspects of screenwriting technique and are taught by established professionals who have experience teaching as well as writing. Students meet with their instructors on Saturdays or Sundays at a mutually convenient time and at a mutually convenient (public) location; the default here is the David Rubenstein Atrium at Broadway and 62nd. Among the subjects available are Building a Strong Structure, Character Creation, and Efficient Moving Dialogue Writing. Sessions last two hours and include a critique of your screenplay by the teacher as well as a certificate.
Virtual Creative Writing Classes & Schools
Your choices for a creative writing class actually extend beyond what’s available on the ground in the Five Boroughs: the Internet makes it possible for you to take online creative writing classes that can originate from just about anywhere. Online learning, which has been around for a generation already, came into its own during the pandemic years when people grasped at Zoom as a means of remaining in contact with other humans. Schools were forced to go online, and while the model didn’t produce optimal results where children were concerned, quite the reverse turned out to be the case with adults, who discovered a whole new world of convenience when it came to remote working or remote learning.
Getting around the City is difficult. It is all the more difficult during rush hours, which is very likely when you’d find yourself trying to commute from work to a creative writing school. That can be unpleasant at the least and a nightmare at the worst, and you’re unlikely to arrive at class primed to absorb new information. To take an online class, you still have to get home, but that’s a commute you’re making anyway, and once you’re home, you can settle into a comfortable chair, relax, and not have to worry about the person next to you shaking his leg or cracking her gum while you’re trying to concentrate on what the teacher has to say. Since you’re taking creative writing for fun, you might just as well be at your ease while you’re learning.
Of course, some people fare better being face-to-face with a teacher, and, for these people, an online class might not be recommendable. If you do go for an online course, you won’t have to equip yourself with any special materials for your online creative writing class: all you need is yourself, your computer, and, if you really want to go the deluxe route, some paper and a couple sharpened pencils.
Santa Monica College (in Southern California) offers, through its Community Education division, a course for aspiring novelists aptly entitled How to Write a Novel. The class meets eight times and teaches all the basics of novel writing: compelling plotting, appealing characters, and absorbing conflict. Care is taken to ensure that workshop-style critiques are kept supportive and encouraging. By the time the class is over, students will have completed the final draft of an outline and perhaps even the first chapter of their novels.
One of the challenges of novel writing is sticking with it until you’re done. Proust, Flaubert, and Dickens all died before they could complete their last works; they might have benefitted from another Santa Monica College online class, Finish that Novel! This class meets seven times, refreshes students’ knowledge of the fundamentals of any good novel, and provides plenty of encouragement to see you through to finishing what you started. Work in progress can be submitted for critique, and students have the option to remain 30 additional minutes after class (no, not to write “I will complete my novel” 100 times on the whiteboard) for additional review of their efforts.
Not everyone wants to write that elusive Great American Novel. Plenty of people these days would rather put their creative writing efforts into the penning of an award-winning screenplay. If that’s more your cup of tea, you can sign up for Jacob Krueger Studio’s Write Your Screenplay class. The Jacob Krueger method for screenwriting is nearly the polar opposite of the approach of most classes, which set down rules into which you’re expected to squeeze your ideas. Instead, the Krueger approach seeks to develop story and characters from the inside out, which allows both to develop organically. In-class exercises play an important part in the curriculum. Feedback from other class participants is also included, along with concrete advice on how to avoid the perils of procrastination and make writing part of your regular routine. The class meets on weekday evenings for four sessions of three hours each.
If you’re just starting out with creative writing, are daunted by the idea of penning an entire novel, and don’t particularly want to win an Academy Award, perhaps what you need is Short Story 1: Short Story Writing Workshop offered by Writing Pad in Los Angeles. Although you won’t get rich writing short stories, each one can be a brief adventure for the writer, one reason why even seasoned novelists continue to dabble in the form. In the course’s five three-hour class meetings, writing exercises alternate with talks about everything from technique to how to get a short story published. You’ll have a ready-for-publication short story by the end of the class.
Private Group Creative Writing Classes in NYC
If your organization is in need of a team-building event, consider a creative writing workshop as a way for your employees to have a little fun, explore their creative sides, and come together around a common activity. Private group creative writing classes in New York City to suit your exact specifications can be easily arranged by CourseHorse for any number of participants. Simply take advantage of the contact form on the CourseHorse website, and an event fulfillment team member will be in touch with you before the sun sets on the next day.
A different spin on the notion of creative writing can be had as a group team-building event would be Jade Scarlett Art’s Modern Calligraphy class. Held in the Flatiron Building, this two-hour workshop shows students how to write a whole lower-case calligraphic alphabet and then gives them a chance to put their knowledge to use by making a greeting card. Students will have acquired a fun new skill that can add a touch of oomph to their handwriting, and the group will have shared some fun helping each other learn the nine strokes with which all calligraphic letters are formed.
Booking a group class with CourseHorse comes with many advantages. There are no booking fees, and you aren’t required to submit a final headcount at the time of booking (you have up to 72 hours before the event to finalize your number of participants.) CourseHorse also allows you to cancel up to two weeks before the event at no charge. They can even arrange, under most circumstances, for the event to be brought to your office premises.