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Would you like to learn from one of the best non-fiction writers in the world? For any aspiring author, the easy answer is yes. Now, thanks to MasterClass, you’ll get inside knowledge to the creative process of the world’s absolute best authors.
In this article, I’ll be giving you a fully comprehensive review of MasterClass: Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing.
Malcolm Gladwell is famous for many things. He’s an award-winning journalist, a bestselling author, and also a public speaker. But for aspiring writers, it is his genius in weaving intellectual facts into a “pop” perspective that is truly fascinating.
As a writer, he has the unique ability to take different ideas and perspectives, however deep – and make it simple and appealing to any reader. His books, Blink, Outliers, and The Tipping Point continue to inspire people from all walks of life.
I’m a fan of Gladwell, so when I saw his MasterClass, it really was a no-brainer for me. But is it worth your time and money? We’ll be going in-depth and honest on this review so you can decide on your own.
Read ahead for my full review of Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing.
Table of Contents
But first, what is MasterClass?
MasterClass is an online education platform offering a variety of courses, mostly on the creative sphere. But that’s nothing new. There are dozens of notable “online schools” out there.
So what makes MasterClass different?
MasterClass markets on the “celebrity experience.” They offer courses taught by celebrated professionals. The best of the best.
Not only that, but MasterClass aims to bring “Netflix-quality” to the online education industry. Each of their courses is carefully-laid out and incredibly well-produced. MasterClass aims to bring quality to each lesson – from the mentors, the production, community, and to everything else in between.
Here are some of the classes you can take in MasterClass:
- Annie Leibovitz teaches photography
- deadmau5 teaches electronic music production
- Chris Hadfield teaches space exploration
- deadmau5 teaches electronic dance music
- Christina Aguilera teaches singing
- Ron Howard teaches directing
- Aaron Sorkin teaches screenwriting
- Martin Scorsese teaches film making
- Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking
- And many more
How much is MasterClass?
That all sounds good. But the important question is, how much does MasterClass cost? Right now, they offer two payment options:
- A one-time payment of $90 per MasterClass. This includes full, lifetime access to all video lessons, workbook, and office hours.
- A $180 All-Access Pass that allows unlimited access to every MasterClass, including all its features, for one year.
Seems steep? That’s okay. MasterClass is willing to give you a money-back guarantee for whatever option you choose. If within 30 days you don’t like any of your lessons, you’ll get a full refund – no questions asked.
Should you get the All-Access Pass?
This isn’t my first MasterClass course. In fact, I myself have gotten the All-Access pass to avail of the opportunity to learn as much as I can from their star-studded array of instructors. A lot of our readers reached out to ask if they should, too.
To be honest, it comes down to one thing: Are you interested in taking 3 or more MasterClass courses?
The best way to determine if this one-year unlimited MasterClass access is suited for you, is to take a look at the list of MasterClass courses. See if you are interested in 3 or more of the mentors. MasterClass offers courses in a wide array of fields from amazing celebrity professionals. You’ll likely find more valuable and interesting courses than the one you were initially interested in.
If that’s the case, then it’s a bargain that is too good to pass up. I highly recommend taking the All-Access Pass.
An overview of Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
Now, down to business. What will you get from the Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing? Here’s an overview:
- 24 Video lessons between 3 to 20 minutes each.
- 100% exclusive content and an in-depth course on non-fiction writing.
- A downloadable class workbook containing lesson recaps, class assignments, and supplemental materials.
- The Office Hours features, a chance to ask questions to Malcolm Gladwell himself, as well as get critique on your work.
- Access to The Hub, MasterClass expansive community of students and masters.
A closer look.
So what’s inside Malcolm Gladwell’s writing course?
At first glance, the lesson plan seems to cover a lot. There are video lessons covering everything from establishing an effective and interesting narrative, some useful tools for engagement, to Malcolm Gladwell’s personal guiding principles on research. All, in all, it looks like a well-rounded course.
The video quality of each lesson is impeccable. Production-wise, it looks expensive. But what makes it great is that each angle is shot dynamically – the changing points of view is immersive and helps you keep your attention to the mentor. It’s effective in a way that it keeps you listening.
Gladwell’s teaching style is conversational – almost unscripted. It’s as if you are talking and exchanging ideas with a friend. He throws in anecdotes and rapid-fire gold nuggets about writing you’ve never thought of before, at least for me.
Every video lesson is also accompanied by a workbook. In the workbook, you’ll see lesson recaps, additional reading suggestions, and assignments you can take to practice your newfound knowledge.
These workbooks are incredibly helpful. I highly suggest doing them as you go through the course. It’s a great way to implement the techniques you learned from Gladwell. Plus, who knows? You might even get a chance of getting a critique on one of your assignments.
Another interesting feature is the Lesson Discussion, which is basically a comment section for students to express their insights and exchange ideas. If you’re feeling up to it, you should browse through these comments and participate in the discussions. You might connect with like-minded individuals and even get some additional spark of inspiration.
The Office Hours
The Office Hours is probably one of the most exciting things about this course, especially if you’re a big Malcolm Gladwell fan. MasterClass takes it further and gives its students a chance to get up close and personal to each mentor with the Office Hours.
Here, you can upload a question in video or text format for Gladwell to answer. You might also get a chance to get personal feedback on your assignments.
Lastly, when you enroll in MasterClass, you’ll also get access to its community, The Hub. It’s basically MasterClass version of a forum, where you can start or join threads about the courses you take.
Honestly, it’s not as active as I expected it to be. After all, MasterClass is popular in the online education industry. But that’s to be expected. The online learning community is not really interactive as it is.
However, you’ll be pleased to know that the writing section is full of ideas and prompts that you might find interesting. That’s always worth a look.
“The act of writing about others is not a trivial act. It’s not entertainment. It’s not a distraction.
“You don’t read nonfiction for the same reason that you chew gum or watch the Kardashians on television.
“You read it because you’re in search of something powerful and fundamental about what it means to be a better person.”
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Will you learn from Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass? Yes.
Here are the things I loved about the course.
1. It will make you a better writer.
Trust me on this one. If there’s a course out there that will make you instantly become a better writer, it’s this MasterClass.
Malcolm Gladwell dishes out things you can immediately apply to your writing, right now. Even the anecdotes he shares, if you listen closely, result in paradigm shifts in your writing process.
He’ll make you think (multiple times,) “Why didn’t I think of that before?”
And he does so in such a humble, infectious way. He’s not egoistic about it. He simply wants to share what he knows, and it’s endearing.
The course is full of the richest pieces of advice you’ll ever get. Here are my favorites:
- You don’t have to end your story perfectly. Sometimes there is beauty in a question mark.
- The best way to draw your readers from the start is to create a puzzle for them to unravel in the end, but don’t give them a perfect solution.
- Don’t interview a source looking to “find” anything interesting in what they have to say. Effective interviewing is all about convincing them to find themselves interesting – and you’ll hear gold.
- Interesting is better than perfect. Perfect doesn’t irritate a reader, it doesn’t elicit a reaction. Interesting does.
2. It challenges what you think you know as a writer.
“One thing I want you to take away from this class is the idea of writing as a calling. It’s an activity that has a higher purpose. It’s part of the way which we fulfill ourselves as human beings. both in the words that we write and in the words that we read.”
When I was younger, I didn’t find non-fiction books interesting. I was always drawn to the poetic, the dramatic. I love fiction. And I never thought of non-fiction as anything but books filled with facts.
But this MasterClass has shown me another side to non-fiction. In fact, it has shown me a side of writing that I’ve never really thought of before.
I learned that there is poetry in writing about real life. That there are a hundred and one ways you can look at a story, and how to pick out that one thing that people will relate to.
And you’ll see Malcolm Gladwell express the sentiment beautifully throughout the course.
His methods and techniques challenge what you think you already know. Gladwell forces you to look at writing with a different, simpler, but more efficient approach.
In one lesson, he talks about the importance of punctuation, and how there should be musicality to what you’re writing, and that the simple act of reading your piece out loud can fix issues in flowing, pacing and wording right away.
Gladwell rampantly shares these tidbits like knowledge bombs: how to use punctuation, incorporate jargon, the beauty of writing simply, and the magic of long sentences only when they are necessary.
These are things I have never learned from any book or any other writing class before. It’s a minefield of useful and practical information.
And it is these nuggets of wisdom that I think, you will take away throughout your writing profession and something that will elevate your process like no other.
Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass is close to perfect. Close. There are things that can be improved. Here are the things I didn’t like.
1. It can be too anecdotal.
You’re listening carefully. Malcolm Gladwell says something interesting. You’re at the edge of your seat… and then he cuts himself off to tell you a story.
Perhaps it’s just me. But I don’t really find anecdotes super interesting. I’m not saying Gladwell’s aren’t interesting. In fact, a lot of the stories he shares ends up in a eureka moment. I particularly enjoyed the one about the ketchup industry.
But perhaps he could have reeled it in just a little. If you find yourself getting away from the lesson because of a certain anecdote, you can lose the point.
It is by no means a major flaw. Merely a little dent on his teaching skills. And that’s the beauty of an online course – you can just rewind.
2. The Office Hours feature is empty.
I’ve had my share of MasterClass courses and trust me when I say that one of my favorite things about is the Office Hours feature. Even if you personally don’t get feedback or answers from a “master,” it is still usually a goldmine of additional information. You’ll be able to watch feedback and answers for other students.
But Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass Office Hours is empty. There are no videos to watch. There seems to be no feedback on other student’s works.
And that, for me, is a major flaw. Who knows, though, this might still change in the future. You can still submit any question and participate in the workbook assignments. However, it’s best not to expect a response from Malcolm Gladwell.
The verdict: Is it worth your money?
Do the pros outweigh the cons?
Yes. 100% yes.
Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass is perhaps the best writing course you can ever put your money on.
It’s the perfect course if you’re looking to be a better writer. His lessons are both important and timely; he will show you many ‘evergreen’ facts that make up a hallmark of good inquisitive writing.
Did I learn something? Heck yes.
I think the biggest takeaway is learning how to have fun with it, how to stop taking things too seriously, and how to try and approach every piece you write in every possible way, every perspective, every angle. But to remember not to take everything you see as a whole, but simply subtracting all the noise, and writing something wonderful.
Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass is eye-opening, infectious, and inspiring. It will make you fall in love with writing in a different way. And your readers will appreciate it.
You can check out Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass here.