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Getting the Most Out of a Self-Paced Class

Online self-paced courses offer convenience and ease as you move through the content without any time pressure allowing you to freely engage in ways that are authentic to you and your creative process. On the flipside, making your way through the course on your own without motivating factors such as achieving a certain grade or engaging with others in discussion threads can leave you feeling somewhat untethered. 

To get the most out of the online self-paced classes, I offer the following suggestions to help keep you inspired and motivated so that you achieve your writing goals, generate new material, and invigorate your writing practice. 

Schedule Time to Engage the Course Content and Write

One of the primary conveniences of self-paced courses is that you do the work at times that work for you and your schedule. Set yourself up for success by dedicating specific time slots each week - at least one, preferably two or more - to complete the readings, watch the videos, listen to the podcasts, and respond to the writing and creative prompts. Having a routine can help you maintain momentum.

Limit Distractions

During the time you have scheduled limit your distractions so that you are able to focus on reviewing and responding to course content. This may involve silencing your cell phone, logging out of social media, or turning off the television. 

“Read. Be patient. And trust your language.” by Natalie Diaz

Set overall goals

Take some time to consider what you hope to accomplish. There were reasons you were drawn to take the class, so consider writing those reasons out and display them somewhere visible to keep you grounded in your purpose and intentions.

Create Your Personal Creative Space

Creating a dedicated space for you to write, read, and inspire your creativity can do wonders for sustaining focus. Do so can involve considering the room or space you will use, a desk and/or comfortable chair, and the overall ambiance. If you like to write with music in the background, I encourage you to put that on or grab your earbuds and iPod and find the music that works for you. For some, music has the ability to help us relax, get grounded and be just a little quieter than we are used to. If music does not work for you, consider what might help you focus your attention and frame a creative space for yourself. Maybe it's earplugs or a cubicle at a library. Consider decorating the space with inspirational quotes and images!

Nourish Your Body

Be sure to have snacks and beverages available just in case. Nothing stops the creative process quite like thirst and a grumbling stomach. Having healthy snacks on hand will boost your energy and keep you thinking clearly.

Be Gentle with Yourself

Everyone has days or weeks when you feel somewhat off kilter or possibly less productive than usual. If you find this happening, be gentle with yourself and understand that the creative process is not necessarily about being productive in a traditional sense; it also includes the time spent doing other things which helps us integrate our learning on a deeper level. Consider time away an opportunity for your creativity to percolate in preparation for your return to the course.