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Online Writing Degrees: A Way to Focus Your Career as a Writer

written by: Shey Marque•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 11/29/2009

Boost your power as a beginner or experienced writer. A broad based online writing degree can help to focus your writing and uncover skills you never thought you had. This article discusses the structure and syllabus of a good online writing program.

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    You may have decided that you want to be a writer but are unsure whether you have what it takes to write a novel or even whether to choose fiction or non-fiction writing. The uncertainty leads to procrastination and becoming entrenched in a job you hate simply because you haven't the time to find out what type of writing you might be good at, or you think you can't afford to quit your job and take the chance. Completing an online writing degree allows you the freedom to continue working while improving your skills.

    Perhaps you are already earning a living as a writer but have taken a single course such as journalism or copy writing and unsure how to change direction or find your niche. Writing is also a necessary part of everyday life for many business writers and other professionals for whom real skills in writing may never have been acquired.

    Learning professional writing skills in an online learning community can uncover hidden abilities and present new opportunities for your career as a writer. Writing is one of the areas most suited to online learning, and a broad based degree can increase your power and flexibility as a writer. An online writing degree also builds skills in the new and growing medium of electronic writing.

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    Finding a Degree in Writing Online

    There are many online writing degrees available now, although many of them are still quite focused on a specific area and therefore limited in the long term. Or they are not delivered entirely online, requiring short residential periods on campus. However, these restrictions are entirely unnecessary for completing a writing degree. Look carefully before signing up because you can do a broad based writing degree delivered entirely online.

    Things to look for when choosing a writing degree:

    • Make sure the tutors are accomplished writers in their own field.
    • Look for courses that offer a wide range of units including creative writing, journalism, scriptwriting, electronic writing, business writing, academic and other forms of writing.
    • Units on strategies for writing and understanding critical and cultural theories for positioning the writing are also important.
    • Critiquing skills are important as is receiving constructive criticism. A good course offers a cohesive online student community as a source of critical friends.
    • Go for flexibility with short term courses that may be expanded to diplomas, degrees, masters and even PhD.
    • Focus on practical accomplishments like building a publishable portfolio.
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    A Niche As A Writer

    Finding your niche comes with trying each type of writing and understanding and developing yourself as a writer. Sometimes even those writing scientific or business writing may benefit from studying writing from the perspective of more creative writing styles, various types of literature, and theories that provide insight into society and the people who will become your target audience.

    Online writing degrees which offer grounding in critical and cultural theories help to position your writing and make meaningful connections to the reader, attract attention in the market, and make a significant contribution to the existing body of literature in your chosen genre. This means maximizing your worth as a writer and always having something to say. Confronting the blank page is a common problem plaguing many writers in every genre. With understanding further about what makes us think the way we do, including the factors which influence society and attitudes, writing ability and effectiveness improves significantly.

    Compulsory participation in the online student community and discussion boards are essential to developing critical reading skills by acting as a critical friend to your colleagues, and in learning how to respond to constructive criticism.

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    Creating Your Writer’s Portfolio

    Further things to consider when choosing a writing program for your online writing degree include the methods of evaluation and production of outcomes. Examinations, for example, are a waste of time and effort and they inhibit creativity and individuality. Choose a program that does not evaluate by formal examination but by concentration on building a writer’s portfolio through extensive and progressive use of assignments.

    These should be assessed formally and include meaningful feedback and professional critique. Publishable outcomes are best. A large focus on electronic writing and publishing is important now, and promotes competency and confidence within this new medium sometimes lacking in adults. This ensures survival as a writer in the future.

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    Career And Publishing

    Major outcomes should also include an understanding of the various types of publishing environments such as print, multimedia, online modes, and marketing strategies that focus on your chosen genre. Essentially you need to walk away with strategies and skills for planning, researching and producing your own major writing projects, and have established a position within external genre-specific reference writing groups for ongoing development and professional affiliations.

    An online writing degree can lead to opportunities where a technical writer, business writer or copy writer may well produce that secretly desired novel, ebook or screenplay. Creative writing is the key to all writing genres including journalism, business writing and electronic writing.