Writing Course

Online Course #1: Writing What You Know

For quite some time now, I’ve been meaning to tighten up my writing skills and began researching for some free online writing courses opportunities. A couple of weeks ago, I found a website that offers a number of courses that I think will be interesting and potentially beneficial to take.

The site I found is: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/ OpenLearn is part of The Open University in the UK, and they offer a variety of free online courses.

My goal is take some applicable classes in hopes to improve my writing skills. Once I finish each course, I plan on writing a reflection here on my blog.

Course Title: Writing What You Know 
Level: Introductory
Total Hours: 8 hours 

Topics discussed:
  • Descriptive writing using something you know/see – a room, daily activities, a short journey
  • Observe and use those observations for future writing, exercising linguistic and perceptual muscles
  • Utilize the five senses to expand descriptive writing
  • Memory works as a narrative to bring the story alive
Materials used (all given online):
  • Excerpts from authors’ writing
  • Audio mini-interview with an author
  • Prompts to guide thinking and writing
What have I gained? 
  • To carry a notebook to write down ideas, thoughts, rants, what I see, think, and feel. These ideas can be used at some other point
  • To use distinct memories and/or personal experiences in order to bring life to a story
Personal Attachments:

When I was teaching, one of my weekly focus was teaching how to write using varying writing styles (personal narratives, expository, persuasive, poetry, etc.). One of the very first things I taught, using my school’s Writer’s Workshop curriculum, was “Good authors write what they know”. My students, at first, were confused by this statement, but breaking it down with just a simple experience they’ve had opened their minds. They eventually were able to pull from different experiences to create both informative and entertaining personal narrative writing pieces.

Overall Reactions:

I found this course to be fairly simple and straightforward. Aside from carrying a small notebook around and digging deep into my memory, I don’t know if I’ve learned very much. Through the Writer’s Workshop curriculum I taught for a few years, I touched upon almost each topic covered here. That is not to say this wasn’t a useful course, because I do like the idea of carrying a notebook around to jot down ideas/thoughts and it was a good refresher on topics I’ve taught before. Overall, I believe this was a good course to start with since it was easy to understand and complete.

Here is my Statement of Participation:

Thank you for reading and until next time! 🙂

19 thoughts on “Online Course #1: Writing What You Know

  1. Great post, Heidi! I was thinking about trying some of Open Learn’s courses myself but wasn’t sure if they’d be worth the time. Have you tried any of their other writing courses?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Rebecca! This was my first course at OpenLearn, actually. I’m not sure how good the others are, but I do plan on giving a few others a try since the titles and descriptions do pique my interest. Which one(s) were you curious about? I’m trying to decide on my next one, and maybe I could try one of the ones you were interested in?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I saw one about characters and another about fiction writing which sound quite interesting. I think I’ll start with the one you started with since I know it’ll be worthwhile

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think I know which ones you are talking about. I was interested in those, too. I think I’m going to start with ‘form and uses of language’ and ‘what is good writing?’, then do the writing fiction one.

        This one I did was fairly quick, and I don’t think it took the full eight hours they say.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Was the eight hours per week or overall? It wasn’t clear on the website or the course info bit. I didn’t see the language one- might look at that one too

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It was eight hours overall. Although, like I said, I think it took me less than that to complete. That language one says it’s only 4 hours. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts, as well, if you end up taking a course.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’ve started one for research on the law, but I can’t see it taking me too long. I think because you can work through it at your own pace is why it doesn’t take the full length of time it says it does

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Thank you! They probably just said it takes 8 hours so people don’t complain if they’d said it took 4 but it took them longer

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that you are doing this! Good for you!! 🙂 Congrats on completing your 1st course! As for the notbook carrying, I used to not be a fan, but when I tried making the change to recording my thougts and ideas in a memo app of my phone, I didn’t like it as much. I’m not so good at making the 100% digital switch, but oddly enough, I prefer typing whole pieces on my phone as opposed to a computer or paper (1st through final drafts…I know, it’s crazzzy!). I’m always revising, editing, and adding to my ideas and brainstorms, and it helps me to see/remember my thinking process when I go to write my 1st draft, so I don’t erase anything I put in my notebook. Once I use one of my ideas, I cross it out with a single line, so it’s still visible to me, and I have tons of codes and arrows that help me organize my thoughts. The more you use your notebook, the more you will wonder how you ever did without! The more I used it, the better I got; I started to see that ideas are everywhere…everywhere! As I improved (and pages began to fill), it helped me to number the pages of my notebook. Often, I go back and add ideas to my “already started” pages. However, I tend to run out of room and then jump to the end of the notebook to continue…not a good idea on my part. Without page numbers, I was constantly looking for where in the notebook I continued my ideas, and I felt like I was constantly starting over. Now, I redirect myself to specific areas and pages, so I don’t feel like my work was for nothing. It’s filled with odds and ends of everything from quotes to cool, catchy words, sayings on billboards to overheard dialogue, and lines of song lyrics to things I read in books (that I use as mentor texts). It’s really, really messy, and most of it never gets used for what I originally planned, but I like having it because I can go back to it at any time for reference or even memories. I started off carrying a little pocket notebook because I could easily slip it into my purse, but now I carry a zip-around journal because I am able put things inside and not worry about them falling out (you never know what and where you will find new inspiration!). But, guard it with your life. I’ve “misplaced” mine a couple times, and it was like losing part of me! Ohhh, the tears! Luckily, both times, it found its way back to me. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your success with the program. Best of luck on your journey ahead! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, tarafarah7! I’m usually a mix of handwriting and typing on my computer, but I’ve found myself jotting an idea here and there in my new traveling notebook. Page numbers are a good idea, so I’ll makes sure to do that and I’ll make sure to guard it with my life! I can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose something that you’ve put so much thought into, but I’m glad that yours found its way back home! I have my next course picked out, which I’m hoping to complete next week.

      Thank you so much for your thoughts, suggestions, encouragement, and for stopping by! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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