York’s Best Professional Writing Courses for the Aspiring Writer

Everyone is a writer. From essays to text messages to grocery lists, writing is an integral part of life. York is a unique university with its wide offerings of writing courses devoted to improving students’ craft. While there is an entire major dedicated to professional writing, not every student wants to devote their entire study to it, or maybe they just want a few pointers on how to refine what is an everyday aspect of academia and life. There are so many different classes with individual focuses that electives can be filled up quickly leaving students overwhelmed. There are three courses in this major, though, that offer the most informative and effective methods for the casual and potential professional writers alike. All are open to all students, with no prerequisites or grade caps.

PRWR 2006/PWR 206 – Fundamentals of Editing

Course description: The course addresses the problems of sorting and arranging information and of writing it up in a manner that is clear and comprehensible in limited spaces. Students edit their own work and the work of others, learning both to administer and accept criticism.

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As a disclaimer, this course can be very difficult to navigate. It is a York/Seneca joint class, and that means students will have to register with Seneca, and then with their Blackboard (similar to Moodle at York). This course, typically taught by Brooke Smith, is well worth it. She is incredibly passionate and her lessons are effective and well thought-out. It requires a basic understanding of English grammar, but everything is discussed in enough detail that it’s easy to catch up. This is ideal for anyone, not just writers, as it goes through copyediting in a professional and personal sense. It teaches how to self-edit and go through others work. It pays off in the long run since it can be used for cover letters, resumes, or other work-related affairs. It does, however, ruin every typo! They will be incredibly noticeable after this course.

WRIT 1004  – Research for Professional Writers

Course description: A practical introduction to research demands, strategies, and ethics in today’s digital professional writing environment. In a digital writing project, students will develop and use strategies for formulating research plans; gathering relevant and reliable information through appropriate research methods and from information retrieval systems; and evaluating and organizing information to craft responsible, compelling texts.

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This course is more directed towards those who will be doing research as a part of their career, but is still a critical course to improve writing. Everyone knows how to Google and research topics, but how many are actually able to do this effectively and efficiently? WRIT 1004 offers the opportunity to really focus on how to extract the most relevant information as quickly as possible. Not only does this save time, the methods presented are an incredible way to learn even more and get as much as possible out of all your courses. This course is a slow burn; the lessons learned may not be immediately useful, but over time, research proves to be a critical skill!

WRIT 1003 – Professional Writing: An Introduction

Course description: This course introduces the concepts, fields, and practices of professional writing. Concepts considered include creativity and the idea of writing, composition theories and practices, writing for different audiences, and critical analyses of professional writing modes and media. Students practice writing for different audiences and professional writing contexts.

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A more rounded writing course, WRIT 1003 offers a variety of genres and styles to study and improve on. This course has the added benefit of generally being taught by Jon Sufrin, who is an incredible professor to have. His passion, humour, and compassion makes him a triple threat, and he is easily a class favourite. This is a great class to toy around with the idea of professional writing and can be a gateway to enter the major, as it presents many different ways to write, but is overall fantastic for even casual students. Nearly all basic aspects of writing are touched upon in this year-long course and it is a fantastic way to dip one’s toes into the wonderful water of the professional writing major, or just to learn a bit more for fun.

For whoever looks at the PRWR/WRIT name and trembles: who says these courses are only for writing students? Writing is a universal art and should be explored and celebrated by everyone. With such an array of options, though, it can be difficult to pick and choose. Luckily, there are three excellent courses that are perfect for just about anyone: from the budding writer, to the majors, all the way to the curious! Picking any of these will surely improve this skill and hopefully spread the love of writing. Hurry though, these courses will quickly fill up! Happy (future) studying!

All course descriptions are found at York’s course website and are valid as of February 2018.