30-something queries later, I have a fair idea about the common dilemmas that every writer would have regarding an online writing course. Please bear in mind that the info in this post is entirely based on my knowledge and experiences, and may not be always correct. While I have tried to answer most questions, there might be something that I have missed or overlooked. Do feel free to drop in a mail if you don't find what you are looking for:
Is the WB course credible or is it a scam?
Yes, it is a recognized course but it is not equivalent to a university diploma or degree. The course content is focused on self-improvement rather that developing any new skill sets in the area of writing. However, the WB people WILL NOT run away with your money and their response to queries and mails is fairly prompt. You can, at best, equate it with a writing workshop.
Will it help enhance my resume and career options?
Not really. The course is entirely aimed at your own development as a writer (read: practice and know-how) and recruiters/clients will probably not care about it much.
Will the course help me become a successful writer?
I would suggest you do it only if you have absolutely no previous experience in the field of writing. Most of the material in the modules can be found on various websites and blogs for writers and moreover, the course will not do anything to make a "writer" out of you. However, they do give some valuable tips on how to package, present and sell your work to various publications. The tutors will guide you where you are going wrong but cannot help it if you do not have the required command over language and style. That said, making a living out of magazine feature writing is not a feasible option in India as most publications pay peanuts. You will eventually have to explore other areas of writing like content writing, copy writing and editing if you wish to earn a decent salary out of your work.
The upside is that the course helps you discipline and organize yourself. Assignments pertaining to various modules compel you to explore different areas of writing like fiction, magazine features, non-fiction, writing for newspapers etc so that you can work out what you are actually good at. This again, is nothing that you cannot motivate yourself to do. The only way to be a good writer is to write - nothing else can replace that. I have had a good experience with my tutor and his encouraging comments have certainly done a little something for my confidence, especially in the beginning. C'mon it helps when someone marks your articles as "very well written".
Does the course offer value for money and will I be able to earn my course fee back?
At Rs.20,000, the course does not offer too much value for money in terms of course content but on the other hand, it is not at all difficult to earn your fee back. Once your writing career sets off, you will be able to earn that amount within a few months. Anyhow, they offer a money-back guarantee in case you are unable to do so. So in a way, you have nothing much to lose except time and energy.
An average Indian publication pays around Rs.1000 for a 1000-word article. By that means you have to sell 20 articles to get there which is not too difficult.
Will the WB guys help you get published / pay for your work/ recommend you to publications/ find markets?
No they won't. You will have to scout for markets on your own. Your tutors only suggest whether your writing falls into the "publishable standard" category and the course material will brief you on how to approach editors and market your work.
What exactly does the course teach?
It focuses a little bit on every type of writing - magazines, newspapers, non-fiction, fiction, fillers etc. You can place a request for a free course brochure/prospectus through their website for detailed info on course structure and topics covered.
Was I a writer before taking up the course and has the course really helped me?
To be very frank, I took up the course because I had absolutely no confidence in myself when I started out. If you believe yourself to be a good writer, you can just take the plunge and see how it goes. I was not much of a writer before I enrolled for the course. I just used to write for a few academic assistance websites. Creative writing is something that you have to nurture and practice on your own - no course can do that for you. Now I have taken writing as a full-time profession but it has more to do with other areas of writing. You can check out the kind of work i do at www.shuchikalra.com.
I have attempted to enlist a few pros and cons of the course that may help you weigh your options:
- The course helps you explore different styles of writing and career options in the field.
- The tutors are extremely helpful and can guide you to tailor your writing for different publications.
- It is not difficult to earn the course fee back if you follow the course carefully and are already a good writer.
- It encourages you to write more (through assignments) and practice your skills.
- The course gives a fair idea about what markets to target ( mostly UK based and does not talk of any Indian markets)
- The course will not help you if you do not have a good command over English and above average creative faculties.
- You just get to do a couple of assignments for each writing style and the onus of constant practice solely rests upon you.
- The course material is not very detailed and most info can be found on various websites for writers. This may be good news if you are not willing to shell out the bucks.
Hope this helps. Drop in any comments/suggestions that can help me add more.