Monday, January 19, 2009

Ten for Free

Ten Things Free for the Taking

Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive

AbiWord Portable 2.6.6 is "the lightweight AbiWord word processor packaged as a portable app, so you can edit your documents on the go. You can place it on your USB flash drive, iPod, portable hard drive or a CD and use it on any computer, without leaving any personal information behind" (OS: Win 9x/ME/NT/2K/XP/2K3)

Do you need a creative or unusual font? Check out the variety available for free download over at (OS: Mac, Windows, Linux)

Linsa-Anne Sanderson has a free online seminar over at here for writers interested in learning how to write for magazines.

The Other Mother blog, written by author Gwendolyn Goss, evidently offers ongoing free writing workshops for moms.

This is a hidden gem I recently stumbled across while looking for free online writing classes -- The Massacusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers a huge list of MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) which is "a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity." Check out just what they offer in literature and writing and humanistic studies.

Not to be outdone by MIT, Open University, the UK's largest academic institution, offers a variety of different free online writing classes via their OpenLearn website. No registration is required, and courses are available to everyone regardless of country of origin. 3.0.1 is "an Open Source, community-developed, multiplatform office-productivity suite. It includes the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program, with a user interface and feature set similar to other office suites. (OS: Win 98/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista, Solaris, Linux [including PPC Linux] "Additional ports, such as for FreeBSD, IRIX, and Mac OS X, are in various stages of completion.")

If you'd like to write or co-write your screenplay online for free, definitely check out Plotbot the web-based screenwriting software. 1.4.3 is "a simple word processor . . . designed to get your first draft banged out and on its way to the editing table" (Os: Mac OS X)

The University of Utah offers two free online classes for writers and readers: Introduction to Creative Writing and Introduction to Shakespeare.


  1. Here's a fabulous freebie for writers: will give you a virtual dropbox to back up all your files offsite, and synchronize them with another computer or work remotely. (And since I put a link there, this comment will go to spam hell)

  2. Charlene wrote: (And since I put a link there, this comment will go to spam hell.)

    Oh, no, we don't send friends to hell until they've really sinned. But we do check out the links first to make sure they aren't bogies leading to sites like :)

  3. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Hey! I'm having trouble finding free writing courses on the open university website...? The search function seems to be of little help. Looking around, there seems to be a fee or 'not yet available'.

  4. Fantastic list, Thanks!

  5. Whew. Glad I haven't really sinned. *g* BTW, I can vouch for AbiWord. Neat, neat program!

  6. The MIT, Open University, and other classes can also be found on iTunes as free downloads. Language classes are another positive feature available there.

  7. As a graduate of The Open University, I can recommend the OU's creative writing materials. I did two paid-for courses, and both were fun. The first course was great, I had a tutor who saw that I was interested in genre fiction, and in order to broaden my horizons simply suggested I might like to try other genres, and gave me good marks for my genre stories. That course was amazing, and so was the tutor. However, luck of the draw was that for the second course I got a tutor who was biased against genre fiction (I wrote a fantasy story), even though the course guidelines stated that the only genre out of bounds was children's fiction. "If you want to succeed on this course, I'd advise you stay away from fantasy and genre fiction!" were the tutor's remarks on my marked-down story. I could have complained, but I couldn't be bothered, it would have been too much hassle, as it was something I didn't need to take at this stage, I was doing it for extra credit, and already had enough points to get my degree. I dropped out, and kept the course materials (which were far more valuable to me than a second-rate tutor's remarks) and forged ahead with my own writing.

    Hopefully if any of your British/European readers who study the pay-courses with the OU will get a good tutor.

  8. I believe Notre Dame and Yale also have open courses. But I love MITs and have done some of their women's studies courses.

  9. Thanks for the links. I had snagged the education ones :).

    On the Open University, I also had trouble finding their OpenLearn program, but if you go to search, one of the options is to search the freely available course materials. Here's a link to the writing search:

  10. Hi all, Tom here. I inadvertantly rejected the following comment from locksmith mesa, and am posting it manually:

    Great list! I'm freebieser.. =)

    Sorry about that.

  11. Anonymous wrote: Hey! I'm having trouble finding free writing courses on the open university website...? The search function seems to be of little help. Looking around, there seems to be a fee or 'not yet available'.

    Anon, I tried the link Margaret suggested ( and input "writing" in the search field after checking free courses, and that brought up 29K + results. They don't all appear to be free writing classes, but there were several listed at the top of the results. Also, Margaret, thank you for the link and instructions -- Tom


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