So you’re on lockdown and Netflix is chanting your name.

Yes, the latest season of Narcos Mexico is incredible TV and yes, Ozark’s third season premieres this week but trust me, binge-watching is not a long-term solution to pandemic-related restlessness.

Staying productive is important so if you’re looking for somewhere to put your creative energies at the moment, here’s a list of free online learning resources from college level courses to language learning.

purple nail polish optional

Fiction writing

  • Creative Writing – Writers Block Workbook This Udemy course wants to help aspiring fiction writers get back on track and offers a series of prompts and tips to reignite the muse. The course consists of nine video lectures with additional content behind a pay wall and has garnered good reviews from its almost 10,000 participants.
  • Start Writing Fiction: Character and Stories Once you’ve got the writer’s block under control, it’s time to start plotting your great opus. This Open University course shares guidance and tips from established writers on how to develop story, create compelling characters and establish your own writing rituals.
  • Creative Writing and Reading This is a postgraduate level course which focuses on developing critical reading skills to better enhance your own writing. It forms part of the Open University’s MA in Creative Writing so if you’re thinking of dipping your toe into further education, this is a great free taster.
  • Creative Writing: The Craft of Character Coursera offers this course from Wesleyan University which aims to help you breathe life into your characters. It’s four weeks long and participants can pay to get a certificate at the end.
  • An Introduction to Screenwriting The University of East Anglia has made this two-week course available for free and enrollment is the end of this month. Students will learn how to create a polished first draft, some background on the industry and how to effectively structure story.
I hate it when my computer gives me life lessons in the form of a screensaver

Non-fiction writing

  • The Secret Sauce of Great Writing Devised by a former editor of the Wall Street Journal, this highly-rated course on Udemy teaches the basic building blocks of great writing to make your copy stand out. You’ll have to pay to access the add-on services such as instructor feedback and a certificate of completion but the online video lessons are entirely free.
  • Writing What You Know This Open University course is ideal for any aspiring personal essays writers out there as it encourages new writers to mine their own personal stories for inspiration.
  • The Writing Process Intended for professional writers looking to hone their skills or those new to the business, this course from the University of California, Berkeley is a comprehensive look at how to research, draft, edit and proofread your work.
  • Writing for Social Media Twitter, Facebook and other sharing platforms require a whole different kind of communication. The University of California helps writers negotiate these forms of new media to better reach their audience.

Learning for fun

  • Approaching Poetry Poetry can be a source of comfort in turbulent times, and this insightful course from the Open University will ensure you know your TS Eliot from your Robert Frost by focusing on analytical skills that help readers interpret the texts. And once you’ve completed it, they’ll send you a certificate of participation which you can hang on your wall to impress friends (when they’re allowed to visit again).
  • A Brief History of Communication: Hieroglyphics to emojis Language geeks like myself will appreciate this Open University offering which maps how we got from caveman-like grunting to today’s textspeak (not all that different admittedly). It also looks at the relationship between technology and writing, and how all the tools we now have at our disposal have shaped how we communicate.
  • Learning French Being cooped up indoors is the perfect time to become bilingual (or multi-lingual, aim big!). Memrise is the top resource for language learners of any level and ability. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s also weirdly addictive (I speak from experience)
  • 18th Century Opera Harvard University has a range of online courses geared towards art lovers. If opera’s not your thing, try some Shakespeare , Beethoven or a bit of ancient Egyptian art.
Apparently there’s more to Egypt than pyramids…you live and learn

If I’ve missed anything or you’ve suggestions on how to beat quarantine boredom/anxiety let me know in the comments!

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