Online Courses

A student sitting in the grass while working on their writing at the Summer Residential Program

The Iowa Young Writers' Studio offers online creative writing courses for high school students twice every year! We offer the online courses for 6 weeks every spring (semester), mid-January through late February, and every summer, late June through early August. We do not offer online courses in the fall. We accept applications in September and October for spring courses and in March and April for summer courses (check this page for updated information). We accept applications from students in the United States and welcome applications from abroad. Students must be able to read and write in English. The online courses run independently of the Summer Residential Program, and though they're intended for students with a passionate interest in writing, admissions decisions for these courses are based less on writing ability than on enthusiasm and commitment to learning.

This spring, 2021, we will offer three online courses: creative writing, fiction writing and poetry writing. These courses will run from January 19 through February 26, 2021. All courses will be taught by graduates of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The online courses will require approximately three hours of engagement per week, which will include writing assignments, reading assigned materials, critiquing classmates’ writing, and participating in online discussions.

These online courses are asynchronous, meaning that students can complete the assignments and post in the discussion forums on their own schedules in their free time. There will not be any live classes. It is important to note that even though students will be able to do the assignments on their own schedules, at any hour of the day or night, they will have to meet weekly deadlines.

Please note that we are no longer able to offer these courses for college credit. We feel, however, that the opportunity these courses provide students to study with a graduate of the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop, to develop as writers and critics, to connect with other high school age writers, and to receive a Certificate of Completion if they successfully complete the course more than make up for the absence of a college credit.


Sense of Witness: Poetry and Perception. Poetry Writing (accepting applications until November 1, 2020)

Instructor: Danielle Wheeler

Sense of Witness: Poetry and Perception is an online poetry writing class for high school students.  This course takes inspiration from the poet Muriel Rukeyser, who preferred to call her readers “witnesses” because it was more active: [it] “includes the act of seeing or knowing by experience.” In this six-week course, we’ll be witnesses: to each others writing, to the poems of poets like Rukeyser, Bei Dao, and Audre Lorde, to what is happening around us… and to our inner selves. We’ll ask  ourselves: how does one witness the self? How have poets, historically, witnessed themselves and the world in their work? How do we witness what is happening the world? And how does this all influence our writing? Along the way, we’ll experiment with style, form, inspiration, and voice, and you’ll produce work that will be workshopped and considered by your instructor and your classmates. You'll learn basic concepts and techniques of poetic craft and emerge with some fresh writing and some workshopped pieces. No prior poetry writing experience is required, though it certainly can’t hurt. Come with a willingness to read, write, and thoughtfully consider the work of others. (Students will be required to complete weekly assignments and participate regularly in group discussions).    

A Persuable Feast. Creative Writing (accepting applications until November 1, 2020)

Instructors: Connor WhiteAnna Polonyi

A Perusable Feast is an online creative writing class for high school students. A Perusable Feast is a genre-mashing, experimental writing course aimed at helping you ask yourself the questions: What sort of writer am I? What sort of reading inspires me? and, What are my artistic sensibilities, anyway? In it, you will test the boundaries between fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, journalism, and various other sorts of creative writing which, taken together, constitute a vast and intricate wonder-scape just waiting to be explored. John Crowley, in his novel Little Big, envisions a series of nested imaginative realms, each bigger than the one that contains it. In exploring the realms of the written word, we will take Crowley's model as our own; the farther in you go, the bigger it gets! We will find out how, by working through the nuts and bolts of specific challenges in various kinds of writing, we can gain access to larger ideas about writing in general, ideas that transcend distinctions of "genre" and allow us to make use of our words as tools for thinking, for seeing the world. We will put these tools to use in short, guided writing exercises, which we will discuss, along with published works by established authors, in a conversational online setting. Think of this course as a six-week literary potluck. You are the cook and the banqueter. On both accounts, welcome, and enjoy! (Students will be required to complete weekly assignments and participate regularly in group discussions).

Forget Ready, Forget Set, Go! Fiction writing (accepting applications until November 1, 2020)

Instructor: Scott Ditzler

Forget Ready, Forget Set, Go! is an online fiction writing class for high school students. Over the course of six weeks, you'll learn about key aspects of fiction writing such as detail and image; voice and point of view; character, story, and plot; setting; and drafting and revision. You'll do this through a process of creative collaboration (or perhaps collaborative creativity)—each week, you'll read a short piece by one of your classmates and use it as a springboard for your own writing exercises, while simultaneously using your own writing as a tool for working through and appreciating that of your classmates. You’ll also read and respond to published short stories by exciting contemporary writers. The course takes a playful, generative, process-oriented approach to writing. This means you’ll be doing lots and lots of writing, and that, when you read, you’ll be reading as writers—teasing out what makes great stories work. (Students will be required to complete weekly assignments and participate regularly in group discussions).

PLEASE NOTE: If your application is accepted but the section of the course you applied for has filled you may be offered a section with a different (but equally awesome!) instructor.

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