Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions below. If you aren’t able to find the answer you are looking for, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-759-0963 or by email at for more information.

Q. When do classes “meet”? What if I can’t get online then?
A. Getting to class “on time” is never a problem with Writers Digest University. All class components are asynchronous, which means you can log on at your convenience, day or night, to participate. Students from across the country and around the world communicate with each other and the instructor by posting comments and questions in designated discussion areas. When you’re ready to go to class, you simply log on to the site, visit the various student areas, post your questions/responses/comments to the ongoing discussions, read the lesson material, or submit your assignment to your instructor.

Q. If I do not live in the United States, will I still be able to participate in the workshops?
A. Yes, we have students from all over the world. Since the workshops don’t meet at any specific time of day (see above), you can log on at any time of day or night.

Q. How private will my writing assignments be?
A. When you submit your assignment it will go directly to your instructor. No one else has access to this area.

Q. What if I don’t want my writing to be critiqued by the group?
A. All workshops include a group critique component, Critic’s Corner. We strongly encourage you to participate in group critiques, since this kind of writer-to-writer interaction can provide valuable insights into your work. Writing is meant to be shared, and sooner or later you need to expose your efforts to readers. There’s no better first audience than a group of your peers-fellow writers who can give you the kind of encouragement and informed constructive criticism you just can’t get elsewhere. You and your classmates are in the same boat, so no one will feel “singled out”. However, we’re certainly not going to force you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with. If you feel you cannot participate in group critique, then you can elect not to post anything into Critic’s Corner.

Q. What if I know I won’t be able to “attend” a session during the workshop. Can I make up the work?
A. Yes, but as a courtesy to your instructor please let them know ahead of time if you will be submitting your assignment late.

Q. Can I email my instructor directly? What if I want to call him or her?
A. Email is not a primary communication tool for these workshops. All interaction takes place within the Blackboard interface. If you have a general question feel free to post it in the message board for the instructor and your fellow students. However, if you have a private question you only want to ask the instructor post it in the “Ask the Instructor” section of the workshop. In order to protect our instructors’ privacy, phone calls are not permitted.

Q. I want to write a book based on my life. Should I take a novel workshop or a life stories/memoir workshop?
A. That depends on the kind of book you want to write. If you want to relate your personal experiences-exactly as they happened-you should take a life stories/memoir workshop. You’ll learn about applying creative writing techniques so that your story is as well-written and as entertaining as you want it to be. You’ll also learn how to organize the events you want to write about into a coherent and interesting narrative. If you think your personal experiences would make the basis for a good novel, then by all means consider a novel writing workshop. But be prepared to make the creative decisions required to build a successful novel. You may need to change the order (and even the outcome) of events; add, eliminate or consolidate characters; or change the geographical setting.

Q. I know the kind of writing I want to focus on. Can I just sign up for a project workshop, or do I have to take the recommended fundamentals workshop first?
A. Even if you know what kind of writing you want to concentrate on, you need a solid grounding in the basics. In the fundamentals workshops you’ll learn the skills and techniques you’ll need to practice your craft. Then the project workshops will teach you how to apply those fundamentals to your specific project. Refer to the outline for the workshop you’re interested in. It will tell you if there is a recommended “prerequisite” workshop and provide a link to that workshop’s outline so you’ll know exactly what’s covered. If you feel you already have a good command of all of the skills and techniques covered in the fundamentals workshop, you may certainly enroll in the project workshop of your choice. Please note that the project workshops do focus on a work-in-progress, so you should have one to three solid project ideas (depending on the workshop) ready for further development.

Q. I want to work on a novel idea in a specific genre. What kinds of novels are covered in the Focus on the Novel workshop?
A. You can work on any kind of novel idea in this workshop-a mainstream novel (a novel with a broad appeal, that encompasses themes and characters that most readers can identify with) or a “genre” novel (any one of the popular categories, such as romance, science fiction, mystery, etc.). Keep in mind that a mainstream novel can also have a “genre,” as with the mainstream romance of Danielle Steel, the mainstream horror of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, the mainstream mystery of Sue Grafton, or the mainstream science fiction of Michael Crichton. In the Focus on the Novel workshop, you’ll learn how to plan, research and plot a successful novel according to well-established guidelines that apply to any novel type. We will not be dealing with “formulas” in this workshop, but rather on the elements of characterization and plot that make any novel work. Along the way, if you feel you need additional information about a particular category of novel, you can check our online Library for reading suggestions and genre-specific workshop supplements. In addition, be sure to check out the novel instructors’ bios in our faculty area so you can select the instructor with the most appropriate experience.

Q. Can I take more than one workshop at a time?
A. Sure, if it makes sense and if you’re able to make the time commitment. If you look at our Program Overview, you’ll see that there are a number of program “levels.” While you are not required to move through the levels in order, it would not make sense to try to combine a “fundamentals” workshop with a “project” workshop; instead, you should take the “fundamentals” class first and follow up with whichever “project” workshop applies to you. You could take several workshops at the same level together, but we recommend that you take a careful look at the workshop outlines first-particularly at the number and length of the writing assignments required. One of the things that distinguishes our workshops from other online instruction is the amount of writing you get to do-and receive professional feedback on. These are not casual, peer-moderated, contribute-if-you-feel-like-it writing circles. You’re going to be reading and digesting a significant amount of writing instruction and you’re going to be producing a significant amount of work-solid, directed, considered, goal-oriented writing. If you take on more than you can realistically handle, you won’t get as much from the experience.

Q. What if I have computer problems and can’t get on the internet? Will you accept late assignments?
A. Since all communication in these workshops is asynchronous, you can access the lecture and assignment areas at any time during the “active” session, and you can submit your assignment at any time during the specified time period (it varies from workshop to workshop, but you will usually have 4-7 days from the start of a session in which to submit your writing assignment-see the workshop descriptions). Since you can work on your assignment offline, temporary, brief service interruptions should not be a problem. But if you are unable to “go to class” within the first two days of a session, or if you are unable to submit a completed assignment by the stated deadline, you can contact us. We won’t be able to fix your hardware or software problems, of course, but we will be able to offer you alternative solutions to getting your assignment in. Ultimately, maintenance of your system is your responsibility. If your system failure forces you to drop out of a workshop, our standard refund policy will be applied (see Registration Policies for details).

Q. Do I need any special hardware or software to participate in an online workshop?
A. In order to participate fully in all workshop areas and activities, you will need a current Internet browser, version 6.0 or higher of Internet Explorer (version 5.0 for Mac users), version 7 or higher of Netscape Navigator, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple’s Safari (we do not recommend using AOL’s built-in browser or any other Internet Service Provider’s proprietary browser, as certain functions may be restricted). Because we regularly upgrade the site and add features, we recommend always using the most current browser version available for your system to make sure that you can take advantage of enhancements as they are made. If you need to upgrade your browser, go to your browser manufacturer’s website and click on the free download. You will also need an email account to receive registration confirmations and other announcements (email is not used for class communications). For your writing assignments, you can use any word processing software or text editor. You will compose your writing assignments offline and then copy and paste your work into the Personal Notebook to submit it to your instructor.

Q. What if I already own the textbook, but it’s a couple of years old?
A. Your edition should be fine to use, but if you want to verify it, you can contact us by email at with the title and copyright date and we’ll let you know if you need to buy a more recent edition. One rule of thumb: all market books should be current (as indicated in the workshop outline).

Q. Do I have to buy my textbook from one of your suggested online retailers?
A. No. We’ve provided links to a couple of popular book-purchasing sites for your convenience only. You may purchase from one of them, from another online vendor of your choice, or at your local bricks-and-mortar bookstore. Feel free to shop for the best price and/or delivery schedule. No matter where you decide to purchase, you should have your textbook prior to the workshop class start date.

Q. What is the cancellation policy? Can I get a refund?
Your paid registration guarantees a place for you in the workshop. Because that place cannot be filled after the registration cut-off date, if circumstances do force you to withdraw, the following refund policies apply:

If you cancel up to two business days prior to the start of the workshop, you are entitled to a full credit toward another workshop (valid for six months) OR a full refund less a $75 administrative and cancellation fee.

No refunds will be given less than two business days prior to the start of the workshop.

Workshop credits must be applied to another workshop registration within six months. Credits cannot be changed into refunds.

If we cancel or reschedule a workshop, you are entitled to a full credit or refund without any assessment of administrative fees.

In order to cancel your registration, you must notify us by email at; refund calculations will be based on the date/time the email is received by us. Your email message must include: your full name, user name and password, the name and date of the workshop class, and your return email address.

Failure to “attend” class, failure to submit assignments, and/or notifying the instructor DOES NOT constitute official cancellation. Refunds take 4-6 weeks to process, and will only be given via the same form of payment you used when registering.