Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Review 2022: Will It Make You A Better Writer?

Have you been wondering if Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass will improve your writing? Up until a few weeks ago, I asked myself the same question.

In early 2008, I landed my first writing job for a martial arts magazine in Australia. I had to interview a kickboxing champion and write a feature on him.

Even though I had never written a profile piece before, I thought this would be the story to get me noticed as a writer.

Was I wrong.

I was so lost when it came to writing about people, about settings, about how to get someone’s character on page, that after a dozen rewrites of my profile with the kickboxing champion, I deleted my work and turned in a Q&A article.

Had Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing Masterclass been around back then, I would’ve thrown my gig money at them just to get some help.

How Important Is It For You To Grow Your Nonfiction Writing Skills?

If you have time to scour the internet and learn the ins and outs of nonfiction writing piece-by-piece, then by all means skip this course.

However, if you already have a few writing gigs under your belt and you’re looking for a writing course that covers every aspect of nonfiction writing, then continue reading.

Who is Malcolm Gladwell?

If you’re not familiar with Malcolm Gladwell, he’s a writer for the New Yorker and best-selling author. Malcolm Gladwell’s books include:

Gladwell is also the host of Revisionist History podcast.

What is Masterclass?

Masterclass is an online learning platform that produces courses on writing, acting, photography, and more with some of the best in the business.

Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Cost

In May 2020, Masterclass stopped offering single courses. If you want to take Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass, get the annual All-Access Pass.

With the All-Access Pass, you get access to over a dozen courses taught by some of the best writers in the world.

I’ve written about the All-Access Pass in this in-depth Masterclass Review.

Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Review

Although I’m going to touch on all aspects of this course, in this Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review I’d like to focus on the four most important elements of this course…

  • lesson modules
  • course materials
  • community hub
  • office hours

…and whether or not these elements will help you become a better writer.

Because let’s face it, unless you’re just a fan of Gladwell and want a sneak peek into how he works, you’re most likely taking this course to become a better writer.

Before I get into the review, I just want to let you know where I’m coming from as well.

I would consider myself a novice writer. I’ve co-authored and published one memoir, wrote hundreds of articles off- and online (mostly online), and currently work as an editor and writer.

Lesson Modules

“Daddy, is he talking to you?”

This was the question my daughter asked me when she walked up to my desk and saw what appeared to her to be Malcolm Gladwell addressing me as I sat attentively in front of my computer.

malcolm gladwell teaching his "teaches writing" masterclass

You get the feeling that you’re sitting in a New York City apartment with Gladwell, having a conversation with him about the craft of writing. It’s not until the end of the course that you learn where he really is.

The course also appears to be shot unscripted, which I loved. I’d rather hear Gladwell shoot off the hip than hear him read from a teleprompter.

This unscripted style of teaching gives you a chance to see Gladwell working through his thought process as a writer.

The 24 modules in this course run between 10 and 15 minutes each, on average. They cover a variety of topics for writing non-fiction. Some of my favorite modules were:

  • Structuring Narrative: The Imperfect Puzzle
  • Holding Readers: Tools for Engagement
  • Holding Readers: Controlling Information
  • Developing the Story: Analogous Worlds
  • Characters: Descriptions
  • Characters: World Building
  • Who to Read

In the Structuring Narrative module, Gladwell talks about how his love of jigsaw puzzles helps him piece together his stories.

I think on some level, writing, or at least my kind of writing, is about making the pieces fit. So I have my little shelf of objects, and I want to arrange them in a way that’s compelling to readers. – Malcolm Gladwell

And it’s after watching this module that you find out that there are more ways to put a story together than what you learned in your college writing classes.

But the takeaway for me in this module was how Gladwell uses a number system to help him organize his writing. It seems like such a simple idea, but an idea I overlooked until this course.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

The module on Character: Descriptions and Characters: World Building were also two of my favorites.

For the first time, it dawned on me that I’ve never really introduced my characters or built their worlds into my articles. I’ve written about them as if my readers already knew who I was talking about.

Here’s an example of me introducing my main character, a Muay Thai fighter named Komkit Chanawong, in one of my older articles:

Chanawong grew up the eldest of two children. His father worked construction and his mother cared for the elderly at a nursing home. He started Muay Thai at ten years old…

If you notice, I did a poor job of introducing my main subject. Nowhere in my article did I describe my subject or build the world around him.

After listening to Gladwell talk about how he introduces his main characters and builds their worlds, it changed the way I introduce mine.

Here’s a more recent piece where I applied what I learned from Gladwell’s Masterclass in a feature I did on a fight promoter in Thailand, Ohn Somila:

Ohn is a short, stocky man in his mid-fifties, with dark hair, olive skin, and a baby face. He is Thai. And his first language is Thai. And in his pronunciation of the word “fighter,” comes “fai-teeeer.”

And how I built my subject’s world:

But on most afternoons Ohn drives to MAX Muay Thai Stadium, which is only twenty minutes south of his gym. In a second floor office labeled PROMOTER ROOM he labors in front of one of many whiteboards that span the walls. In this room he works tirelessly with nine other promoters, all of whom busy themselves with separate tasks. Some of them scribble names onto whiteboards. Some of them erase names from whiteboards. Some of them argue. A promoter, who’s just lowered his phone down to his chest, yells a name at Ohn and Ohn scribbles it into a blank slot.

See the difference?

And there’s more. In the module on Who to Read, Gladwell explains why it’s important to read good writing, and gives four examples on who to read, and more importantly, why to read them.

In fact, whenever he mentioned himself and his peers, he always referred to himself as the lesser writer.

Gladwell had no problems referring students to other writers when he felt his shortcomings weren’t enough.

And I loved this about Gladwell. Never once did I ever get the feeling that he was talking down to me, or that he was somehow more special than me or any other writer.

He taught from a place of humility and his passion and enthusiasm for writing won me over from the very start.

Course Materials

A review of Malcolm Gladwell’s masterclass wouldn’t be complete without looking at the course materials.

When you join Gladwell’s Masterclass you get a 76-page workbook to go along with your modules.

The workbook is meant to supplement your course.

But here’s the other thing. It guides you along with an optional class project, which is writing “a 7,000 to 8,000 word reported, New Yorker-style article” which you can pitch to a publication of your choice.

Each module in the workbook has:

  • chapter overviews
  • learn more sections
  • assignments

Chapter Overviews

The chapter overview summarizes the main points from each module. It’s helpful to get a summary in the text after watching the videos.

For one, the summary further solidifies the key takeaways in each module. And two, you can go back and use it as a quick reference later on.

Learn More Sections

The learn more sections give you further readings to supplement what you learned in the module.

For example, in module 2 of this course, you’re given a link to read Gladwell’s article “The Ketchup Conundrum” and you’re given a few questions to consider while reading.

Masterclass learn more section

So what’s great about these learn more sections? You don’t get access to Gladwell’s articles unless you subscribe to the New Yorker.

But Masterclass must’ve paid for the right to use Gladwell’s articles because they give you access to a bunch of his articles.

I suggest you read each and every one of them. You’ll get to see how Gladwell puts into practice the theories of what he’s teaching.

Assignments

The assignments are also a great addition to the course. They help you practice what you learn in each module.

masterclass assignments section

The assignment above is from the module on Holding Readers: Tools for Engagement.

It was one of my favorite assignments in the course because it asked me to read and deconstruct an article and look for the most important pieces of information that make a story entertaining.

The Community Hub

The Community Hub is an online forum where you can post topics about Gladwell’s course or writing in general and get feedback on your work.

Although I’ve never used the Hub, it looks like it’s an active community. Members post and comment quite frequently, about every few hours.

And if you spend enough time in the Hub, you can go down a rabbit hole of writing topics, prompts, and challenges.

masterclass community hub

The only thing I didn’t like about the Hub was the use of preset tags. For example, when I clicked the malcolm_gladwell tag, I expected to see topics about Gladwell’s Masterclass.

But in reality, anyone can use the tags as they see fit. And oftentimes the malcolm_gladwell tags showed results that had nothing to do with his course.

I’m sure if you spend enough time learning how to use the Hub, you’ll get something fruitful from it. But if you’re expecting a dedicated Hub for Gladwell’s course—good luck. And if I missed it, please let me know.

Office Hours

At the time of writing this Malcolm Gladwell masterclass review, the Office Hours feature was still available. I’m not sure if they removed it from other courses, but I haven’t seen it lately.

It should be the strongest selling point for this course. With Office Hours, you can post a question in video or text and Gladwell will answer your question in the same format.

Sounds amazing, no?

Oddly enough, at the time of this writing, no one has posted any questions for Gladwell to answer.

masterclass office hours

I don’t know if Gladwell’s course was that good that students were left without questions, or if students were afraid to put themselves out there, or if Masterclass didn’t promote this feature as much as they should’ve.

Either way, being able to ask questions and get answers from Gladwell seems like a great benefit to taking this course.

What Other Writers Are Saying About Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass

In Bryan Collins’ review of Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass on his website, Become A Better Writer Today, he says the following:

Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass is a practical online writing course for nonfiction writers, aspiring columnists, and journalists. 

It’s also a great writing Masterclass if you enjoy reading and listening to Malcolm Gladwell talk about the science behind popular books like Blink, Outliers, and his compilation: What the Dog Saw. 

Genefe Navilon, in her review of Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing on Ideapod, said:

Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass is eye-opening, infectious, and inspiring. It will make you fall in love with writing differently. And your readers will appreciate it.

Can Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass be Improved?

As I write this Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review, I notice a few areas that could be improved.

My biggest problem with this course, as small as it may seem, was that at the end of most of the modules, the audio would cut out abruptly.

This made me think there was more Gladwellian knowledge I might’ve been missing out on.

For the amount of time and energy that went into producing this course, I wondered why the audio team overlooked this glitch in post-production.

If they could’ve faded the audio out at the end of each module, it definitely would’ve put the finishing touches on what was a great production.

And in module 5 of the course, Research, the Learn More section referred to “Life & Death on the Social Ladder” by Helen Epstein. I was supposed to read this article to learn how important research could be for stories.

But when I clicked the link, I was only allowed to read the introduction before getting this message:

new york books subscription costs

This was the only article I couldn’t read in the course.

The last thing I would’ve liked to see from Masterclass would’ve been a clearly stated suggested reading list.

Gladwell’s books are listed at the beginning of the workbook, and a side note to “study other examples of excellent nonfiction from Malcolm’s books and various magazines” has been added.

But if the workbook listed the books that were going to be referenced in the course, it would’ve made following along a bit easier.

Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Alternatives

If you’re looking for a writing course that will help you become a better nonfiction writer, Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass isn’t your only choice.

On Masterclass alone you also have:

You can even go a step further and take a few of the fiction writing courses, all of which have practical takeaways that you could apply to your nonfiction writing.

Conclusion

I hope this Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review helped you decide if the course is right for you.

My decision to take this course boiled down to two questions:

  1. Were my problems with the course deal breakers?
  2. Did the course offer actionable advice and clear takeaways?

To answer question 1: not at all.

And to answer question 2: most definitely.

If I had to take the course all over again, I would. Without question.

Funny thing is, I went into this course a skeptic, thinking I was going to watch all the modules, be unhappy with the content, and then email Masterclass asking for a refund.

But quite the opposite happened — I signed up for an All-Access Masterclass Pass.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

The Ultimate 2022 Masterclass Review

Looking for an in-depth Masterclass review in 2021? Look no further. I break down the online learning platform so you can decide if it’s right for you.

Imagine your favorite writer first.

Now imagine you’re sitting across from your favorite writer—and that writer is teaching you everything he or she knows about the craft of writing.

That’s what it’s like taking a Masterclass writing course.

And in this 2021 Masterclass review, I’m going to show you why this is my absolute go-to online learning platform to improve my writing skills and make myself a more valuable writer.

If you don’t want to read the entire review, my short answer is this:

Masterclass is the next best thing to in-person writing workshops and every writer who wants to develop their skills and earn more money should join Masterclass.

I recommend you get the All-Access Pass to save money and get access to every course.

Continue reading for the full review.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you sign up for Masterclass, I get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

What is Masterclass?

Masterclass is an online learning platform that creates well-produced courses on:

  • film and TV
  • music and entertainment
  • culinary arts
  • writing
  • business, politics, and society
  • sports and games
  • design, photography, and fashion
  • lifestyle
  • science and technology

They currently have over 15 writing courses available, and they add new courses every few months.

These are not your typical academic-style lecture courses delivered by professors.

Masterclass courses are taught by experts who have accomplished great things in their respective fields.

They know what writers struggle with, and they teach you how to overcome those challenges so you can become the writer you’ve always wanted to be.

Who Is Masterclass For?

Masterclass is for you if you consider yourself a “creative professional.” This means a writer, photographer, videographer, artist, chef, and so on.

It is also good for people who consider themselves lifelong learners.

If you fall into one of these categories then you’re going to love what Masterclass has to offer.

Who Is Masterclass Not For?

I want to be as fair as possible in this review of Masterclass. So I’m going to put it like this:

This is not for you if you think you can’t improve your skills as a “creative professional.”

It is also not good for people who aren’t curious or don’t consider themselves lifelong learners.

If you fall into one of these categories then Masterclass isn’t for you.

If you know you can improve your writing skills, keep reading.

Why I Love Masterclass

The biggest reason why I love Masterclass is that I come away with new writing skills each time.

And having new skills means I make myself more valuable as a writer.

It doesn’t matter if I take a class by a fiction or nonfiction writer, I find that I can apply the writers’ takeaways to my writing projects.

For example, I might not want to write a drama, but David Mamet’s advice on dialogue helps me tremendously when I have to decide what kind of dialogue I have to add to the memoirs I ghostwrite or co-author.

I might not ever want to write a screenplay, but Aaron Sorkin’s advice on the rules of story has helped me when outlining business books.

I may also never write a children’s story, but when I tell my daughters’ bedtime stories, I fall back on the advice of Neil Gaiman and R.L. Stine—and my kids love it.

It doesn’t matter what kind of writer you are, or what kind of writer you want to be, you can apply what you learn in all these courses to your craft.

Here are a few more reasons why I love Masterclass:

  • I build my writing skills at my own pace
  • I get access to all writing Masterclasses for one annual price
  • I get to learn the craft of writing from a diverse group of writers

Masterclass Plans And Costs

When you join Masterclass, you have two different options: take individual courses or get the All-Access Pass.

Both plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Individual Courses

Since May 2020, you can no longer take one-off classes through Masterclass.

Instead, I recommend you get the All-Access Pass, which I write about in the next section.

All-Access Pass

When I first joined Masterclass I signed up for Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing.

But after taking his class I was so impressed with the platform that I decided to get the annual All-Access Pass.

With the All-Access Pass you get access to every single Masterclass ever made, and every course that will be published in the future.

Masterclass Free Trial

Currently, Masterclass doesn’t have a free trial.

A Review Of The Best Masterclass For Writers

Masterclass produces a lot of great online courses. But since I focus mostly on writing, most of this review will be about the Masterclass writing courses.

First, I review the writing courses I have taken. Then I list the writing courses that I haven’t taken yet or I’m in the middle of taking.

If I reviewed any of the courses in a separate post, I add a link to that review.

Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art Of Storytelling

neil gaiman writing masterclass

Neil Gaiman Teaches The Art Of Storytelling is a great Masterclass for writers who want to become better fiction writers.

I don’t know about you, but I could listen to Gaiman talk about storytelling all day long. He’s captivating.

And what he knows about the craft of writing is just as riveting.

The biggest takeaway I got from his course was his practical advice on writing.

My favorite lessons were:

  • Dealing With Writer’s Block
  • Editing
  • Rules For Writers
  • The Writer’s Responsibilities

By the end of Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass, I was able to apply a lot of practical advice to my daily writing habits and see improvements.

Read my in-depth Neil Gaiman Masterclass review.

Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing

malcolm gladwell masterclass review

Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing helps you if you want to become a better nonfiction writer.

The most important thing I took away from his course was that even the blandest of stories can be turned into interesting pieces.

I regularly refer back to this course when I need a refresher.

Some of my favorite lessons in Gladwell’s course were:

  • Structuring Narrative: The Imperfect Puzzle
  • Holding Readers: Controlling Information
  • Developing The Story
  • Characters: World Building
  • Working As A Writer

By the end of this Masterclass, I felt supremely confident that I would be able to tackle any writing project that came my way.

Read my in-depth Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review.

David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing

david mamet masterclass

David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing helps you if you want to become better at telling dramatic stories.

The biggest takeaway I got from this course was how to structure a story.

Mamet did a lot of drawing in his course. He plotted stories on big sheets of paper, which I loved.

I consider myself a visual learner, even with writing. So having a map to follow was helpful.

I particularly liked the following lessons:

  • Story Ideas
  • Structuring The Plot
  • Narration And Exposition
  • Writing Process
  • Lies And Truth

By the end of David Mamet’s Masterclass, I was able to draft an outline for a screenplay.

Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting

aaron sorkin masterclass

Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting is a solid course for anyone who wants to write a script.

What I found most helpful from this course was the group setting.

Sorkin wasn’t just lecturing about the craft of screenwriting. He was teaching it to writers and critiquing them on their work right in front of you.

It is the closest thing you will get to a live screenwriting workshop.

Some of my favorite lessons in this course were:

  • Story Ideas
  • Developing Characters
  • Rules Of Story
  • Group Workshops
  • Writing Captivating Dialogue

When I was done with Aaron Sorkin’s Masterclass I was able to apply a lot of screenwriting techniques to my nonfiction writing projects.

R.L. Stine Teaches Writing For Young Audiences

r.l. stine masterclass

R.L. Stine Teaches Writing For Young Audiences is a solid course for writers who write for younger readers.

My biggest takeaway from this course was to trust your story ideas—and the crazier they are, the better.

When I was helping a client of mine write a YA story, this was my go-to course for all the questions I had.

Some of my favorite lessons were:

  • The Idea Store
  • Outlining: Surprise Endings And Cliffhangers
  • Outlining: Plot Twists And Tricks
  • Hook Readers Right Away
  • Making Monsters

When I was done with R.L. Stine’s Masterclass my daughters absolutely loved the scary stories I made up off the top of my head.

Other Masterclass For Writers

Masterclass has other writing courses available. I didn’t list them above because I am either still taking them, or I haven’t taken them yet.

Joyce Carol Oats Teaches The Art Of The Short Story

joyce carol oats masterclass

Joyce Carol Oats Teaches The Art Of The Short Story is great for writers who want to get better at crafting short stories.

I will have to revisit this course in the future to give it a proper review.

Although I did find some of the course insightful, this was one of the few classes I didn’t finish.

About 5 videos into the course, I thought Oats was bringing too much of her political ideologies into her lessons.

When I take a writing course, I don’t want to hear about someone’s political beliefs. I just want to learn some new writing techniques.

If I stuck Joyce Carol Oats’ Masterclass out, I’m sure I would’ve gotten more out of her course.

I did, however, enjoy her lesson on journaling to capture story ideas.

How Masterclass Works

When I set out to write this Masterclass review, I wanted to be sure I gave you a glimpse into how the courses work.

Once you sign up, it’s easy to navigate the courses and use the materials.

Workbooks

In the introduction of every Masterclass, you get a PDF workbook that goes along with your course.

The workbook is filled with transcripts of the video lessons, extra reading activities, and writing activities that help you practice what you discover in the videos.

Download your workbook by clicking the link in any of the courses you sign up for, and you can then open the workbooks on your computer or print them out.

Video Lessons

neil gaiman masterclass

Once you download the workbook, you can then begin watching the video lessons.

Most courses have about 20 to 25 video lessons that cover a range of writing topics.

Each video lesson runs 10 to 25 minutes long on average, making them perfect to watch before you start your day, during your lunch break, or at the end of your day.

Learn More Sections

masterclass learn more section

After you finish each video lesson, you can then explore the extra reading material in the Learn More sections of your workbook.

These extra readings show you exactly how to apply what you’ve learned in the video lessons through concrete examples.

And some of the extra resources point to further info that helps you as a writer.

You don’t have to do these Learn More sections if you don’t want to. I tend to only do the ones that interest me the most.

Assignments

masterclass assignments

After you watch the video lessons and explore the extra resources, you can then put to practice all the things you’ve learned in each module.

Sometimes assignments will be reading and discussion activities, which you can then share with fellow members in the Community area.

Other times you’ll be asked to write or rewrite your own work and share it with members who have also taken or are taking the same course.

The Masterclass Community

masterclass community

When you join Masterclass, you don’t only get high-quality courses taught by your favorite writers, you also get access to the very active member Community.

You can offer and get feedback on assignments and other questions from the active members.

You can also take part in writing contests and events like National Novel Writing Month as part of the Masterclass community.

When you’re trying to develop your skills, feedback is crucial. So this is by far one of the most valuable areas of Masterclass—and it’s what separates Masterclass from all the other online learning platforms.

But I have to admit, I don’t use it nearly as much as I should.

Office Hours

It used to be that when you took a Masterclass, you’d get the chance to ask the expert any question you like, and they’d respond with an answer in a video.

I don’t know if Masterclass has removed this feature, but I haven’t seen it in any of the recent classes.

To be honest, this was one of those features that you think people would’ve taken advantage of, but barely anyone used it.

Masterclass Mobile App

The Masterclass mobile app is one of my favorite features. Not only can I take courses while I’m away from my desk, but I also like to listen to the audio on long walks.

Masterclass Support

I get the feeling that Masterclass takes feedback seriously, so I felt the need to add this section to my review because not a lot of websites talk about their impressive support.

A while back, I noticed that their website didn’t have a way to search for their courses by category.

When I wanted to find courses about “writing,” I’d have to scroll through all their classes to find the relevant ones, which was time-consuming.

I sent them an email about this, and they responded saying how much they appreciated the feedback. A few months later, they added a category menu, which made it easier to find all the writing courses.

Whether they had that idea in the bag already or not—hard to say.

But it leads me to believe they do value their member’s feedback.

Masterclass Review Cons

Now, no Masterclass review in 2020 would be complete without listing the cons of the platform.

My biggest gripe with their Masterclass, as small as this might seem, is that sometimes their video lessons end abruptly.

For all the time and effort they put into producing these cinematic-like courses, it irks me that some of the videos don’t fade out at the end—but that’s just the perfectionist in me.

To be honest, I don’t have any other complaints about Masterclass. Obviously, you’ll never get the face-to-face feeling you’d get with live workshops, but you can expect this when taking online writing courses.

Masterclass Vs Other Online Learning Platforms

masterclass vs other online learning platforms

How does Masterclass compare to other popular online learning platforms?

The biggest advantage Masterclass has over other online learning platforms is obviously their production value, their community, and the extra course material.

Let’s see how they fare against some of the more popular platforms.

Masterclass Vs The Great Courses

I start with this one because they are the hardest for me to compare. I love Masterclass. But I also love The Great Courses.

In fact, I’ve also written an in-depth review of The Great Courses Plus.

And to be honest, having taken courses on both platforms, I think they are both great in their own respective ways.

Masterclass pulls ahead with engagement, though. They obviously go all out on their course production, and it makes it easier to stay interested in the subject and finish the course.

The Great Courses, on the other hand, are usually more academic in nature. They tend to be longer lectures, and you don’t get the intimacy you get with Masterclass.

Their courses are also delivered by professors, who definitely have the knowledge of the subjects they are teaching, but they sometimes don’t have the insight that the experts on Masterclass have.

You can try The Great Courses for free to make your own comparison.

Masterclass Vs Udemy

When it comes to quality, Masterclass is ahead of the curve here.

Udemy is great if you’re on a budget, but you’re going to get courses from writers who have a lot less experience than the experts on Masterclass.

Masterclass Vs YouTube

Again, when comparing Masterclass and YouTube it’s a matter of quality vs quantity.

On YouTube, you can find endless videos on writing, but because anyone can appear to be an “expert” on YouTube, you have to be wary of what you watch.

Masterclass Vs Skillshare

Skillshare is an online learning platform similar to Udemy. I’d say it’s a step up in quality compared to Udemy.

But the courses on Skillshare usually very short compared to Masterclass—about 45 minutes to an hour.

At that length, you really can’t uncover much about the craft of writing.

Masterclass wins this one.

Masterclass Vs Lynda

I find that Lynda, which is now LinkedIn Learning, is okay for technical writing or business writing courses.

Again, the courses tend to be a lot shorter and less detailed than the writing courses on Masterclass.

LinkedIn learning is $25 a month, which turns out to be $300 a year. I’d rather spend my money on Masterclass, which offers a lot more value for a lot less money.

Is Masterclass Worth It?

This is the big question everyone wants to know, and I hope this Masterclass review has helped you answer that question.

My answer is—and probably always will be—yes.

If you want to develop your skills as a writer and make yourself more valuable, get the Masterclass All-Access Pass.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

Neil Gaiman Masterclass Review 2022: The Writing Course For Short Story Fiction Writers (And Others!)

Have you been wondering if Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass will turn you into a master storyteller? This in-depth review helps you answer that question.

In this Neil Gaiman Masterclass review, I’m going to cover who this course is for and who it’s not for and help you decide if it will make you a better short fiction writer.

If you don’t want to read the entire review, my short answer is this: sign up for Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass if you’ve already dabbled in fiction writing but want to take your craft to the next level.

If you’re a nonfiction writer looking to add some new storytelling tactics to your writing game, you’ll also benefit from this course — because remember, there is always truth in fiction. 

For the in-depth review, keep reading. 

Who is Neil Gaiman?

Neil Gaiman is an award-winning author who writes short fiction stories, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, and more. Some of his more popular works include:

  • American Gods: A Novel
  • Norse Mythology
  • Neverwhere
  • The Graveyard Book
  • Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
  • The Ocean at the End of a Lane: A Novel

What is Masterclass?

Masterclass knows that in order to become a better writer, you have to learn how to write a good story from the best. So they create courses that let you learn from the best writers in the business using video modules, workbooks, and community forums.

Neil Gaiman Masterclass Cost

As of now, Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass is now part of the All-Access Pass. 

When you get the All-Access Pass, you can unlock over a dozen writing courses taught by some of the best writers in the world.

At the time of this writing, Masterclass is offering two annual memberships for only $180, which is 50% off the original price.

Read my in-depth Masterclass review to find out how the All-Access pass will benefit you as a writer.

Neil Gaiman Masterclass Review

There’s a lot to unpack in this Neil Gaiman Masterclass review, but I’m going to focus on the features that will help you most as a writer, such as…

  • video lesson modules
  • course materials
  • The Community Hub

Also, I’m assuming that you’re interested in taking this course because you want to become a better short story fiction writer (although people do take Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass because they’re fans of his work), so I’m going to approach the review from this angle.

Before I get into the review, I also want you to know that I’m not a fiction writer. For most of my creative writing career, I’ve written nonfiction features, stories, and books and have worked as a nonfiction editor.

With that said, I’m a firm believer that both fiction and nonfiction writers use the same tools to craft stories. So, if you write nonfiction, you can always learn from fiction writers (and vice-versa). That’s why I take courses taught by both fiction and nonfiction writers.

I make the same argument for fiction writers who are interested in nonfiction storytelling tactics in my Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass review.

How Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass Will Help Your Writing

If you take Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass from start to finish, through the writing exercises in the course you’ll be able to:

  • develop stronger characters and settings
  • learn how to listen more intuitively to (and trust) your unique voice
  • uncover the sources of inspiration that will lead to more creative stories

How Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass Won’t Help Your Writing

No Masterclass for writers is perfect, and none of them can cram everything into one course. With that said, here’s what you won’t get from Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass.

  • A step-by-step guide on writing a fictional book from start to finish
  • The “little-known secrets” to writing a bestseller
  • Someone who is going to hold your hand throughout the entire course (you need to be self-motivated)

Cons aside, let’s dive deeper into this Neil Gaiman Masterclass review.

Lesson Modules

After a quick introductory lesson, Neil Gaiman takes you on a journey through his creative philosophies, the philosophies that have helped him write countless masterpieces.

Just by looking at the lesson module names, you can see that Gaiman teaches a lot of subjects.

  • Truth in Fiction
  • Sources of Inspiration
  • Finding Your Voice
  • Developing the Story
  • Short Fiction
  • Dialogue and Character
  • World Building
  • Descriptions
  • Humor
  • Genre
  • Comics
  • Dealing with Writer’s Block
  • Editing
  • Rules for Writers
  • The Writer’s Responsibilities

You also get a few case study lessons about Gaiman’s own books, so that you can apply exactly what he’s teaching you in a practical way.

My favorite lesson was on World Building.

Although I’m a nonfiction writer, I found many strategies from Gaiman’s lesson on World Building useful, strategies I have used to build the worlds of my real-life subjects.

For example, Gaiman reminds us to get out there and experience in-person the worlds we write about so that we can craft our stories using the senses, because if we feel our settings while we’re writing, so will our readers.

Gaiman also reminds us that it’s okay to “play god” and use writing as a “magical creation.” 

I think a lot of times we tend to doubt our creativity. We fear that our stories won’t live up to readers’ expectations. But it’s refreshing to hear Gaiman say that we don’t need approval from anyone to write a gripping story—we simply have to trust our instincts.

Listening to Gaiman break down his creative writing philosophies over 19 well-produced video lessons was great. But what I found even more useful was the materials that came with his Masterclass.

Course Materials

You can download the Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling Masterclass pdf workbook as an extra resource.

neil gaiman masterclass pdf

The workbook is so well put together that you can use it as a stand alone writing course in itself.

It not only reviews what Gaiman covers in his lectures (further reinforcing his writing tactics), but it also gives you exercises that you can use to grow your writing skills after each module.

For example, the workbook comes with many charts and questionnaires to help you build your story’s world and develop your characters.

character development questions

To me, this is where the Masterclass courses offer the most value. I can sit down and watch a video by any writer discussing their strategies. But when professional course developers create assignments that will have you using those strategies immediately, that’s what separates this course from a random YouTube video.

The Community Hub

When you sign up for Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass, you also get access to The Community Hub, an online forum where you can post questions, share your work, and get feedback from other course members.

masterclass community hub

This means you aren’t only learning from Gaiman, but from other members who may be further along the writing journey than you are.

Members engage often on The Community Hub as well, so if you do post a question or ask for feedback for your work, it doesn’t take long to get a response.

You can also offer feedback on other writers’ works, which, as you already know, helps you become a better writer. When you teach something, you further reinforce the concept.

Can You Download Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass for Free?

No. There are no free downloads for Neil Gaiman’s writing course.

However, when you sign up for Masterclass you’ll get access to all the modules. But you won’t be able to download them and watch offline. You must take the course through Masterclass’ website.

Neil Gaiman Masterclass Review Conclusion: Is it Worth Your Time and Money?

Yes, it is.

As I said in the introduction, if you’ve already written fiction and you’re looking to grow your skills, you will discover many new writing tactics in Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass. 

Even if you’re a nonfiction writer like myself, you will walk away from this course with storytelling tactics that you can use in your nonfiction writing process.

If you’re new to writing, you can still take Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass, but don’t expect to learn the nuts and bolts of writing.

Sign up for Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass or get the All-Access Pass to get access to over a dozen writing courses that Masterclass has produced for writers just like you.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

Freelance Writing 101: How to Pitch an Editor

Veteran editor teaches you how to write a pitch that’ll land you more writing work.

You’ve been writing for the past year and are looking to expand your portfolio.

The problem is, very little work is coming your way despite how often you promote yourself on social media and Reddit.

If this is the case, it’s time to start pitching editors so you can build up your freelance writing client list and portfolio.

But you have to know how to pitch an editor.

In this post you’re going to find out what to include in your pitch so that it stands out and gets you work.

With that said, remember that pitching is a numbers game. The more you pitch, the better your chances of landing a writing job.

So after you finish reading this article, start using the index card system I recommend and get to work.

Good to Know

Before you find out how to pitch an editor, know a few things.

Pitch Editors Frequently

Most writers who land steady gigs do two things: they pitch a lot, and they write well-crafted pitches. More about the latter in a bit. But first, pitching a lot.

In 2008 – the year I met my future wife – I approached her a dozen times asking for a date. She turned me down every single time.

Eventually, in 2012 she finally agreed to meet me in Brookdale Park for a morning jog. That week we got together every day for a forenoon run. A year later, we married.

It took four years from me meeting my wife to her actually agreeing to go out with me. Had it not been for my consistent “pitches,” I would’ve never landed the greatest gig of my life.

The same is true about pitching.

You may not land a writing project after your first, tenth, or even hundredth pitch, but eventually you will. And that moment will be one of the most freeing of your young writing career because you’ll realize that finding writing work is possible.

With that in mind, it may help to create a “pitching system.”

When I was starting my writing career, I drew a grid of 50 squares onto an index card and then laminated it.

Each day of the week, from Monday to Friday, I’d send ten pitches, each time drawing a dot in one of the squares with a whiteboard marker. By the end of the week, I had to have a dot in all 50 squares.

Erase. Repeat. That was my system, and it served me well.

Your Pitch Is A Reflection Of Your Writing

When you pitch an editor, your email is the first piece of writing that you’re introducing that editor to, so make it count.

If your email pitch is filled with grammar mistakes, run-on sentences, and fluff, then the editor can only assume your content will be the written the same way.

After you write your pitch, send it to a few friends or family members and ask them to read it over. You can also run your pitch through a program like Grammarly.

Don’t Waste The Editor’s Time

Don’t write to the editor saying that you know he or she is limited on time and so you’re going to make the pitch as brief as possible and then talk about your love for morning tea and how you pass idle time on the weekends by baking cakes for the three cats you recently brought home from a roadside shelter in South Bend, Indiana while on a road trip with your favorite second cousin, Alfred.

Just get to the pitch.

As soon as you type the words, “I don’t want to waste your time but/so/therefore…” you’ve already wasted the editor’s time and he or she probably won’t read the rest of your email.

You’re doing the very opposite of what you hoped for.

On top of that, it makes you sound weak. Be confident in your pitches.

Don’t Ask The Editor To Review Your Other Work

Editors already have enough work on their plates (I’m working on writing this in between three other ongoing projects), and they have no time to review any of your previously published work.

The writer above pitched a few story ideas, which were completely unrelated to our website, and linked to one of his articles posted on another site.

He then wanted to know if I had any feedback for him about that previously written piece.

The last thing you want to do is ask an editor for feedback on an article you wrote for another website.

Now that you know what to keep in mind and what not to do when pitching an editor, let’s move along to the actual pitching process.

Research What The Company Publishes

If you don’t know anything about what the company or online publication in question actually publishes, you have some work to do.

Visit their websites and look at submission guidelines, check out their social media pages or YouTube channels, and ask yourself a few questions.

Do they publish writing course reviews? Features or profiles? Long-form content? Take note of the type of content the company publishes.

By doing this, you’ll be able to craft a personalized and relevant pitch that’ll most likely get read all the way through, which will increase your chances of actually landing a writing project with them.

If I had to estimate, I would say one out of every 50 pitches I get reads as if the writer on the other end actually researched our company.

I currently work in sports media, and we publish content about sports. That includes features, news stories, and lifestyle articles.

Still, I get pitches like these…

Researching the company, however, will only get you halfway there. You also have to find out who you’re pitching.

Find Out Who You’re Pitching

Before sending your pitch, find out the editor’s name. You’re more likely to capture the attention of editors if they read an email addressed to them.

Your first choice should be to look on the company website’s contact or about page. But if it’s not listed there, you have a few other choices:

  • Google
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Sometimes you’ll be able to find the name of the editor but you can’t locate his or her email address. If this is the case, you can try using this email verification tool by Hunter or this one by Anymail Finder (account required).

They both offer paid services, but if you only have to check one or two emails, you can probably use their free feature.

When searching for email addresses, remember that most companies use a few standard formats, so if you found the editor’s name, plug it into the tool using one of the formats below and see what comes back.

  • wallybucks@companyname.com
  • wally.bucks@companyname.com
  • w.bucks@companyname.com

Once you verify which email address is correct, then you can write your pitch to the editor.

If you can find out the name of the editor and write to him or her, you’ll have the editor’s attention for a few more seconds.

But in order to keep the editor’s attention, the first sentence of your email must deliver, and the next section will show you how to do that.

Half-Ass Pitches Vs. Well-Written Pitches (Examples)

It’s easy for me to sit here and write about what you should and shouldn’t include in your email pitch, but it’s better for me to show you an example of a pitch that is poorly put together and a well-written pitch that lands writing gigs.

First, a half-ass pitch:

Let’s go through the email and find out why it will most likely never land that freelance writer a gig.

  1. It’s not addressed to the editor. Okay, she manages to address it to the company, but the more personalized the email, the better. It shows you did your research.
  2. The first sentence is about her and not what she could do for the editor.
  3. She mentions that she’s browsing for “new sites” and found us. Always make the email specific to the company your pitching to.

Now let’s look at a well-written pitch and see why it’s so good.

  1. The writer addresses me.
  2. He tells me right away the name of the article he read on our website, showing me that he did his research.
  3. The freelance writer adds a personalized comment about that article, showing he is indeed a human being and not some bot spamming inboxes.
  4. He offers three ideas that I have to admit are very close to what we’d publish on our website. But even if they weren’t, he takes the time to brainstorm a few headlines.
  5. The writer leaves a link to one of his articles.
  6. He finds out where I had once traveled to, and in his post script leaves a comment saying he went to a nearby location, mentioning something about the place that only a person who did indeed go there would know about.

How could I not respond to that kind of email?

Subject Lines

I may be in the minority here, but I never read subject lines.

When I check my email app, I go right down the line, opening and scanning each email one at a time. If the opening sentence catches my attention, I continue reading. If not, I delete the email and move on.

With that said, the safest bet is to include something about pitches in your subject line should the editor read it.

If you were pitching a travel editor, for example, you could say something like this in your subject line:

Loved Your Article + Bali Story Pitches

Adding a short personalized note (like Loved Your Article) in your subject line will definitely grab an editor’s attention.

As you can see so far, pitching a story to editors takes work – which takes us to my next point.

Practice Your Pitch Writing Skills

In 2007 I took my first trip to Thailand to study Muay Thai, and after the first day I noticed that the fighters at the camps practiced very simple techniques hundreds of times per day, thousands of times per week, until they mastered the move.

Writing pitches and pitching editors works the same way.

You’re going to have to practice writing pitches and pitching editors every day. Dedicate about 30 minutes of your morning to pitches.

You’ll find that after a week or two, you will ingrain the routine and be able to streamline your pitching efforts.

If you don’t know where or how to start pitching story ideas to editors, sign up for a website like Pitchwhiz. You may not get responses in the beginning, but you’ll be gaining experience and resilience.

With that, you need to be resilient as a freelance writer. You may only get one answer out of a hundred pitches, and that could be damaging to the ego.

But now that you know how to pitch an editor, you should feel more comfortable doing so.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

Books Every Nonfiction Writer Must Have

These books will help you grow your skills, get more clients, and increase your income.

The books on this list will help you grow your skills, get more clients, and increase your income.

I’ve collected a list of my favorites writing books from over the last 15 or so years. Here they are in no particular order.

General Nonfiction Writing

These books will help you with everything from sentence structure to story ideas and beyond.

Nonfiction Storytelling

These books show you how to harness the power of storytelling to write compelling nonfiction narrative.

Memoir/Autobiography Writing

These books will show you how to write a moving memoir or autobiography.

Business Writing

Every writer should know at least the basics of business writing, and these books will give you a solid foundation.

Interviewing

These books will help you uncover the stories, emotions, and thoughts of your writing subjects.

Editing/Reference

Writing is half the battle. Editing is the other half. These reference books will show you how to effectively edit any copy that you write or that comes across your desk.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.

A Deep Dive Into OmniOutliner Pro 5 (Review + Tutorial)

How useful is Omni Group’s powerful outlining software? Find out in this in-depth review and tutorial.

You’ve probably come here because you’re either interested in an OmniOutliner Pro review or you just bought it and need a tutorial on how to use the powerful outliner app.

I know how it is, because before I upgraded from OmniOutliner Essentials, there were very few reviews and tutorials for OmniOutliner Pro available online–so I decided to make my own.

In this post, I’ll show you how to download OmniOutliner Pro, how to set it up, and how to get the most out of the outlining tool.

What is OmniOutliner Pro?

omnioutliner pro logo

Omni Group tells us the following about OmniOutliner Pro:

“OmniOutliner is a powerful tool for organizing (and reorganizing) information, so you can see the full picture and structure your information effortlessly.”

On paper, that description sounds great. But a better way to answer the question would be to look at the practical applications for OmniOutliner Pro. Essentially, how this software can save you time during your writing process.

Because that’s what it’s all about—saving time and/or being more productive so you have more time for yourself and those you love.

With that said, let’s look at some of the real-world applications for OmniOutliner Pro.

Practical Applications

I mainly use OmniOutliner to help me organize books and blog posts and to create video scripts.

omnioutliner

However, you can use the software for almost any project you like.

Here are a few ideas.

Book Outlines

In general, there are two types of writers: pantsers and planners.

I consider myself a planner, and as a nonfiction writer, OmniOutliner lets me outline and then effortlessly move around my headings and subheadings to fit into my overall story.

Blog Post Outlines

I’ve used OmniOutliner to help me plan blog posts for this website and for those of my clients.

First, I do a Google search for the topic I’m writing about.

Then I read through the blog posts of the first 10 results and make notes on what subtopics they’ve included in their articles.

Once I have a dozen or so subtopics for my main topic, I begin to organize them into a logical outline in OmniOutliner.

Video Script Outlines

I used OmniOutliner to write the script for the video that accompanies this blog post.

Because of the columns feature that comes with the pro version, I was able to add columns for b-roll.

When it came time to shoot, I had all my notes and shot list in one place.

Book Reading Lists

If you’re like me, you probably buy a few books at a time and lose track of them easily.

With OmniOutliner, you can keep track of your reading list with a simple outline and checkbox column feature.

You can even add a column to keep track of your book notes.

Simply create a rich text column, and then import the file for the respective book notes on the same line as the book.

To-Do Lists

As writers, we have a lot to balance on our heads.

We have ongoing projects for clients, projects we’re working on for ourselves.

Then there’s the business side of things: marketing ourselves as writers, landing better-paying clients, and keeping track of income and expenses for tax season.

OmniOutliner also comes in handy for these uses as well.

Other Uses for OmniOutliner Pro

The uses I mentioned above are just a handful of applications.

You can also use the software for:

  • School essays
  • Shopping lists
  • Vacation packing lists
  • Syllabuses

How you use this software will only be limited by your own needs and creativity.

Cost

When you buy OmniOutliner, you can either subscribe to their services or buy the software outright.

I originally bought OmniOutliner Essentials a few years back, but since I love the software, I wanted to upgrade to pro.

Instead of buying it outright, though, I wanted to make sure it’s right for me first.

With that said, I opted for the monthly subscription plan. If I find that the pro version makes me more productive over the next few months, I’ll buy it.

Subscription

If you choose to subscribe to OmniOutliner, you can pay per month or pay by year.

omnioutliner subscription

The monthly cost is $4.99 while the yearly cost is $49.99. If you buy the yearly subscription, you’ll save $10.

Both options give you access to all the OmniOutliner Pro features.

Traditional

If you go the traditional route, you can buy OmniOutliner Pro for $99.

buy omnioutliner

Alternatively, you can get OmniOutliner Essentials for $19.99, but you’ll lose some of the features that makes the pro version a more powerful tool for writers.

14-Day Free Trial

Not sure which option is best for you? You can download the 14-day free trial of OmniOutliner Pro and test it out.

Now that you’ve decided which plan is right for you, let’s look at how to download and install OmniOutliner—if you haven’t done so already.

Download and Install OmniOutliner Pro for Mac

Because I only work from my laptop, I’m going to show you how to download and install the iOS version of OmniOutliner Pro.

install omnioutliner

If you want to download the app for your iPhone or iPad, go to the App Store and search for OmniOutliner.

Having said that, to download and install on a Mac, follow the steps below.

  1. Go to omnigroup.com/outliner and click the Download OmniOutliner for Mac button.
  2. When the dialogue box appears, click OK.
  3. Read the terms of service, and if you agree with them, click Agree.
  4. When the window appears, drag and drop the OmniOutliner icon into your Applications folder.
  5. Open the app and either a) log in using the credentials you used to buy the app or b) activate the 14-day free trial.

Now that you’ve installed the app, you’re ready to create your first outline, which we’ll cover in the next section.

OmniOutliner Pro Workspace

Before we create a mock outline in OmniOutliner Pro, familiarize yourself with the workspace.

OmniOutliner Pro Workspace

On the left side of the screen is the Sidebar pane. On the top of the screen is the Toolbar. And on the right side of the screen is the Inspector pane.

I’ll be referring to these throughout the rest of the article.

Creating a New Outline

Getting started with OmniOutliner is simple. It comes with 30 templates to choose from.

However, if you want to get the most out of the app, pick the blank template and start from scratch.

Here’s what to do.

  1. Open the app and click New from the File menu.
  2. Choose the Blank template.
  3. Set up your workspace by clicking the blue Sidebar icon in the top left corner of the screen to show the Sidebar.
  4. When the Sidebar appears, click the green checkered Style box, which you’ll need to open in order to format your headings and subheadings.

Now that that’s done, you can begin adding ideas to your outline.

Adding Headings and Subheadings to Your Outline

To begin populating your outline, follow the instructions below.

omnioutliner
  1. Add a heading. You can call it anything you like, but I’ll label mine as Sample Book Outline.
  2. Hit ENTER and add additional headings. You can add as many heading as you want.

When you hit ENTER, a same-level heading will be added to your outline.

If, instead, you want to create a subheading under a heading, hit ENTER and then TAB. The heading will be indented.

To go in reverse and turn a subheading into a heading, hit SHIFT + TAB.

Formatting Your Outline

Just because you add some ideas to your outline doesn’t mean it will be easy on the eyes to follow.

omnioutliner format headings

If you start with a blank template—like we’ve done in this crash course—you’ll have to format the headings yourself.

This will be useful if you plan on exporting your outline to use in another word processor like Scrivener.

To format your headings, you’re going to work from within the Sidebar’s Style section using the two steps below.

  1. Click on the left side of the heading that you want to format. The row will become highlighted.
  2. In the Sidebar, select the heading level you want to use for that heading. Alternatively, you can use the F1 through F9 keys as a shortcut.

When you select the heading level, the heading in the outline will change accordingly.

If, however, you mistakenly change a heading to a level three heading, but meant to make it a level two heading, you must click level three again to deselect it. Then you can select level two. This goes for all levels.

If you click multiple headings, you’ll wind up with a heading that is formatted somewhere between the two different styles.

Not only that, but when you export your outline, OmniOutliner may not know where to place that heading in the hierarchy of your document.

Adding Notes to Your Headings

When you create headings, you can add notes to each of them as well.

omnioutliner notes

This comes in handy when you want to expand on your heading, especially if the heading is vague.

To add a note to any of your headings or subheadings, hover over the heading and click the note icon on the left.

A cursor will appear under the heading, and you can begin typing your notes.

You can also use the record voice function and add audio notes instead.

To do that, click the microphone icon in your toolbar to start recording. Click the square to stop recording. The audio file is automatically added as a note.

Adding Columns to Your Outline

Another useful feature of OmniOutliner Pro is the ability to add multiple columns. As you’ll see, adding columns transforms your document from a plain outline into an actionable plan that you can follow and/or update.

omnioutliner add columns

OmniOutliner Pro gives you six column options:

  • Checkbox
  • Date
  • Duration
  • Number
  • Pop-up list
  • Rich text

To add a column to your outline, follow the steps below.

  1. Click the green Add Column icon on the top right of your toolbar.
  2. Name the column.
  3. To select the type of column you want to use, click the column header to highlight the column, right-click the header to bring up the menu, and then select your column type from the pop-out menu.

My two favorite columns to use are the checkbox and rich text types. I find that I can add the most useful information using just these two choices.

Although, I’m very interested in the pop-up list type of column. I think this feature would come in handy if you had to select from one of many choices.

For instance, let’s say you have a project with two or more people. You can choose which person is responsible for each part of the project.

With that said, I haven’t been able to figure out how to add custom text to the pop-up list. If you know how to do it, let me know in the comments section below.

Customizing Your Outline

Here is where all the fun begins, and it’s what separates OmniOutliner Pro from the less-expensive Essentials version.

To customize your outline, make sure you have the Sidebar and Inspector panes open.

Now that your workspace is prepared, you can move on to customizing your outline.

Customize the Whole Document

If you want to make changes to your entire outline, make sure you’re in the Styles section in the Sidebar pane and then click “Whole Document.”

omnioutliner sidebar

You’ll notice that your entire outline becomes highlighted.

From there, you can make any changes you like in the Inspector pane and the changes will reflect across your whole document.

If you want to change the font of your outline, for example, select the font you like and the font in the entire document will change.

I have to be honest, however. The first time I tried to change the font of my entire document, the changes wouldn’t take. It was only after I restarted the software that I got it working.

So, if this happens to you, try a simple restart.

Customize Headings and Subheadings

You can also make changes to certain heading and subheading levels.

In the Sidebar pane, click the level you want to customize and use the Inspector options in the same way you did to customize the whole document.

You can do this for all heading levels, notes, and other text.

Adding Grids

In the Inspector pane, click the document icon. From there, you can add alternating color rows and horizontal and vertical grids to separate your document’s rows and columns more neatly.

omnioutliner add grids

Searching Your Outline

All of the outlines I’ve used in this crash course have been fairly basic, but you may find yourself creating outlines filled with thousands of words.

search omnioutliner

If this is the case, you’re going to need a way to find certain sections efficiently—that’s where the search function comes into play.

Let’s see how it works.

Navigate to the search bar (also called the filter bar) on the top right of your workspace. For simplicity, type in “chapter,” click the magnifying glass and make sure you’re on Entire Document, and hit ENTER.

Your outline will show results containing only the word “chapter.”

Likewise, if you have a lengthy document, you can search your columns or notes as well.

What makes the search—or filter—feature so powerful is that you can save your search for future reference.

To save a filter, click the magnifying glass and click Save as Filter.

Your search will now be saved in the Sidebar pane in the Filter section for future use.

Exporting Options

When you’ve finished creating your outline and you want to use it in a word processor like Scrivener, you’ll have to export it as an Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) file format.

export omnioutliner opml file

To do this, click File and Export. You can also use the keyboard shortcut COMMAND + ALT + E.

You’ll have a few export options to choose from, so be sure the OPML file format is selected, and then click Save.

In a future post, I’ll show you how to easily import an OPML file into a Scrivener binder with a simple drag and drop.

Additional Help

That wraps up this OmniOutliner Pro review and tutorial.

If you need further help with OmniOutliner Pro, Omni Group has a few videos available on its website. The website also has a support page.

Just a head’s up. I’ve added a few affiliate links to this post. If you use any of the services or buy any of the products I recommend, I may get a small commission. This helps me cover the cost of running the website and comes at no extra charge to you.