One of the biggest problems for expert writers involves getting stuck in a rut. A writer over time becomes versed in a particular type of writing and subject matter and then begins to win more and more projects in the related topic. Over time, that expertise hits a reward curve that starts to turn downward again as the writer becomes so specialized, all he is producing is detailed analysis and work in a narrow niche.
The easiest and one of the most cost-effective ways to break out of the writer’s rut is to go back to school, literally. Many successful writers have probably been out of college five to 15 years. A lot has happened since then, and career, cost and work generally make it impossible to turn back the clock and go back to college again. However, thanks to the Internet, most community colleges have embraced and developed online distance learning programs that can be had for very little expense. These classes not only cover everything from computer science to language to science, they also make it relatively easy for someone to learn a new discipline online.
There are three ways to take advantage of the available but often-overlooked community college resource:
First, those writers who want greater recognition or a first college degree can easily earn an associates degree via community colleges, taking most of the general education classes online. The cost per class is far less than other schools and private colleges. For example, California community colleges charge residents $46/credit. Most private and big name schools are in the range of $300-750/credit for the same classes.
Second, those looking for a quick access to a new training path can also focus on an occupational certificate program. These programs involve specialized focus and recognition of work in a particular area, usually a career path. Certificate graduates often only need to take 10 or 12 classes total to meet the completion requirements, and many schools have these programs online. The certificate then gives a writer an expertise in a whole new industry.
Finally, one-off classes are the biggest benefit online. Students can take a variety of intro and basic classes in everything from physics to anthropology, with many classes being 8 weeks instead of the longer 16-week semester. For approximately $150 plus a book cost, a writer can gain an insight in a whole new area, plus plenty of research resources to rely on as well as free academic access to libraries. Have an interest in archeology but don’t know where to start? Try Anthropology 101. For those who want to break into new writing fields but don’t know where to start, distance learning can be a huge profit after a little bit of academic work investment.
The best part of all the above is that the online approach allows a writer to still maintain his regular job, writing assignments and life without having to relocate or physically sit in classrooms. That maximum flexibility works well for those who are the go and need to work on their own schedule. Folks just have to be very disciplined and organized, but then again most successful writers already are on the natural.
Tom L has been freelance writing for more than 9 years and is currently pursuing a new degree in Fire Science through his local community college, online of course.