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The 20 Best Creative Writing Substacks
Welcome, Substack Writers at Work!
I bring you the definitive (living) guide to the best creative writing Substacks.interviewed me for their article “How modern thinkers are expanding their ideas on Substack” about the many academics and public intellectuals using Substack as a haven for excellent and accessible-to-all teaching. In it, I said that Substack is the university of the future.
If the sheer number of amazing people teaching creative writing on here is any indication, I’m 100% correct.
My goal here is to highlight people you may not know or know but don’t yet subscribe to. Yes,and all of that, but there are so many writers and teachers that deserve the same attention.
It should go without saying that we should pay to subscribe to them. It’s simple commerce. They’re providing an incredible service for much less than we’d pay anywhere else. Most are seriously undercharging for what they offer.
Note: These are in no particular order. They’re numbered because we like numbering. There are twenty because we like round numbers and I was reaching the email limit. I was going to categorize them by genre but so many teach in multiple genres that it would be selling them short.
“Best” is relevant, of course. The criteria:
These Substacks are published consistently and proven, i.e., they don’t appear every few months and didn’t start a few months ago.
They go deep into their areas of interest, these teachers are respected elsewhere (though not necessarily in academia), and the content doesn’t just regurgitate the same old CW prompts and “craft lessons” all over the internet.
They teach the craft of writing as opposed to the practice of creativity.
They are, for the most part, aimed at traditional publishing and media.
Most are immensely talented writers in their own right.
Enjoy and (pay to) subscribe to them. And please add to this list in the comments. We’re so lucky to be students at Substack University.
The 20 Best Creative Writing Substacks
- is a brilliant writer. To get her as a teacher and mentor on Substack for what’s essentially pennies is an opportunity not to be missed and her community of writers living with limitations is so necessary.
- ’s Writers Are Superstars takes an original perspective on the craft of writing: How to learn from the film, fashion, and music industries on what makes “a writer” and creative writing that sells.
- ! For professional writers, there’s a before (BC) and an after (AC): Before Courtney Maum and After Courtney Maum. She’s the resource you want on your side when it comes to traditional publishing. She’s also the book-proposal whisperer and a “query doula.”
- —yes, that Matt Bell. I’ve loved his craft books for some time and now we get to have him in our inboxes, albeit once a month or every two months. Fiction-writers central. (He seems to have dropped off in posting, so I was hesitant to include this one, but there’s a lot in his archive to benefit from.)
- is George Saunders on steroids but also calmer, more focused, and better. The amount of teaching she gives away for free is unparalleled and all of it should be paywalled, so pay her. Her writing challenges are essential. Basically, her whole Substack is beyond worth the price.
- is a Substack icon. Her #1000wordsofsummer project is an annual writing challenge that is so good it led to a book deal. #1000wordsofsummer isn’t even paywalled, but it should be. She also gives tons of advice on writing and publishing. It’s so much from an amazing writer and teacher for $50/year.
- —so good. I love how he somehow writes about the most soul-enriching aspects of writing and the practical business side with an earnestness that’s palpable. A paid subscription gets you access to the community and to Jeff Goins.
- is like learning from a bestselling writer in action, which she is. Rich and deep, her Substack is for those ready to push themselves as writers. It’s an opportunity to get Jennifer’s wisdom for a pittance.
- is a perennial favorite. There’s a sense of calm and restoration to her Substack. It makes you feel like you have time to become the writer you’re meant to be. Her Essay Camp is beloved by Substackers.
Alison Acheson’soffers workshops in genres we don’t often get on here, including picture books and poetry. She features a lot of her subscribers’ writing.
- is one of Substack’s hidden gems. Whipsmart posts on the craft of writing and the creative process and a November Daily Write-Along that writers love. This year, she had a post about (that’s right), Tay.
- is beyond a heavy-hitter. Her Substack is a bargain for all you get, i.e., some of the smartest craft essays around (check out “Let’s End Things”—parts 1 and 2), and I love, love, love her new model for creative feedback.
- . Enough said. The Substack for poetry and literary essays. You get to see her own process, plus get to access her wisdom in Q&As.
Paul Zakrzewski’sis for those looking for guidance with essay, memoir, and mindset. He also has a killer interview podcast.
- offers so much, including tips and prompts, interviews and essays on craft, and a behind-the-scenes look at her new book.
- gives ultra-practical advice on humor writing (!). So needed!
- is the Substack to subscribe to if you’re interested in flash fiction. Her craft essays come out once a month, so it’s easy on your inbox, and she sends out bonus writing prompts.
- has a monthly Substack on writing short fiction—another one that’s easy on your inbox but rich in teaching and guidance.
- is new to Substack, but getting a chance to learn from this Pulitzer-Prize, National-Book-Critics-Circle-Award, Guggenheim-Award, MacArthur-Fellowship winner is too good an opportunity to miss. Focus: fiction. He also holds office hours.
Kate McKeon’sis so good. This is the part of the craft of creative writing that’s too often left out: publishing! This one’s a must.
There are, of course, many other creative writing Substacks to subscribe to.
Please post about any other creative writing Substacks in the comments below and publish to Notes, so we can get everyone the attention they deserve.
Let’s keep this thread going.