Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Review: Can He Teach You How to Write?

In this Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Review, I’ll explain who it’s for, what you can learn and what to expect.

I spent a month taking Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass. In this review, I’ll explain who it’s for, what you can learn and what to expect from Gladwell’s Masterclass.

Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass is a more popular writing online course for nonfiction writers.

It’s for fiction writers and novelists who want to learn more about how Malcolm Gladwell tells his popular stories.


Learn from the world's best teachers and instructors about writing, business, creative pursuits and more. It's affordable and includes dozens of hours of high-quality lessons that you can't get anywhere else. It costs just $10 per month.

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Who is Malcolm Gladwell?

Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Review: Can teach you how to write

Malcolm Gladwell is an English Canadian journalist. He’s also one of the most popular nonfiction business authors in recent years. 

His books include BlinkThe Tipping PointDavid and Goliath and Outliers. He’s also a regular columnist for the New Yorker.

Gladwell is known for combining data and research with storytelling, humor and psychological insights.

Who Is Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing For?

This course is for a nonfiction writer, aspiring storyteller, and anybody who wants to learn more about Gladwell’s creative process, for example:

  • What books does he read?
  • How does Gladwell approach research?
  • What are his top writing tips?
  • How does Gladwell approach criticism?
  • What are Gladwell’s marketing strategies?

You don’t need to have read everything by Gladwell to take this course, but familiarity with his writing style helps.

This Masterclass is less ideal if you don’t write nonfiction, dislike business writing and don’t know any of his books.

How Much Does Malcolm Gladwell’s MasterClass Cost?

Like any Masterclass course, you can’t buy this course outright. Instead, students pay $180 for an annual membership or All-Access Pass. For that amount, you can get access to every course on Masterclass for a year.

It’s worth paying, as how else can you take writing courses from Malcolm Gladwell, Neil Gaiman or David?

What Is Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass Like?

Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass involves 24 video lessons filmed in glorious HD. These are:

  1. Introduction: 02:51
  2. Structuring Narrative: The Imperfect Puzzle: 18:15
  3. Holding Readers: Tools for Engagement: 13:40
  4. Holding Readers: Controlling Information: 13:23
  5. Research: 14:31
  6. Selecting the Story: 12:34
  7. Developing the Story: 12:37
  8. Developing the Story: Analogous Worlds: 15:27
  9. Interviewing: 15:27
  10. Characters: Descriptions: 09:48
  11. Characters: World Building: 10:09
  12. Character Case Study: “The Pitchman”: 15:51
  13. Structuring Language: 09:55
  14. Jargon: 10:02
  15. Tone and Voice: 17:01
  16. Humor and Melancholy: 09:43
  17. Case Study: Language and Emotion in “Something Borrowed”: 15:07
  18. Titles: 08:28
  19. Drafts and Revisions: 20:18
  20. When Your Story Enters the World: 07:23
  21. Working as a Writer: 08:20
  22. How to Read: 12:16
  23. Who to Read: 13:30
  24. Conclusion: A Theory of Other Minds: 07:46
Malcolm Gladwell's Masterclass
Some lessons from this writing course

That’s quite a lot of lessons to get through, but many are comparatively short compared to the twenty-minute plus lesson on other Masterclass courses.

Tip: If time is short, increase the video playback speed to 1.5 or even 2. Alternatively, listen to the audio-only version of the lessons.

Malcolm Gladwell's workbook
This workbook summarises each lesson and also provides additional readers and writing exercises

The course comes with a downloadable 76-page workbook. This workbook summarises each lesson and also provides additional readers and writing exercises. For example, the lesson about research offers these homework assignments:

  • Go to the library and find the section of books related to your subject. Pick out one or two that are the most relevant. Don’t forget to pay attention to the footnotes—write down any authors and titles that will help you answer the above questions.
  • When you’re done reading those books, go back to the library and spend a long time on your book’s shelf and the three shelves above and below. Take notes about what you’re learning and identify the things you want to learn more about. Bring your notes to the librarian; let them find related materials for you.
  • Remember you’re going to have much, much more information than you’ll use in the actual story. Stay focused but not too rigid. You’ll see where your reading and reporting will take you, and it’s often to places you’d never expected.

As you’d expect from Masterclass, Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass is well-produced. It’s filmed in what appears to be a upmarket coffee shop or restaurant, and it includes catchy animations and transition.

You can watch the course on the go via the Masterclass app or online at a computer. I took the course by watching one lesson a day on my lunch break.

What I Learnt About Non-Fiction

I finished this Masterclass course with several takeaways about writing, marketing and creativity.

Gladwell on the Business And Writing

Gladwell spends hundreds of hours talking with and emailing other writers about ideas for his books.

While speaking, for example, Gladwell gauges his audience’s reaction to figure out what was interesting or boring. He also uses arguments from his audience to hone the quality of his works.

This practice of publicly testing ideas helps Gladwell learn how to articulate himself clearly and concisely. It also helps him decide what to expand on or cut from his books.

He said:

“The act of explaining an idea to somebody else is a really good way to figure out how to tell the story.”

You can test ideas for books by emailing peers and asking for feedback and by showing early versions of your work to customers rather than waiting until you’ve finished your product or service.

Iterative feedback will help you strengthen the best parts of your writing and cut what’s not working.

Gladwell’s Creative Process

If you’re interested in learning more about Gladwell’s creative process, you’re in luck because he reads extracts from his books and critiques them.

Gladwell expresses surprised about which ideas caught on from his book Outliers, notably the claim that mastery of a skill requires 10,000 hours — or ten years — of deliberate practice.

Later, he found himself in a curious position whereby others often misconstrued the book’s ideas and arguments.

Gladwell said, 

“Once you’ve written something, it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to your readers. When your readers buy your book, they really buy your ideas, and your ideas become theirs.”

Gladwell on Marketing for Writers

Your work doesn’t end after you publish a book.

In Gladwell’s debut nonfiction book, The Tipping Point, he explains how little things led to remarkable results. However, 

The Tipping Point wasn’t a huge success upon publication.

Gladwell said, 

“The book didn’t do well at first…I got it in my head that if I kept touring and I kept giving talks about it, it might revive. I basically did endless promotions for two years.”

The Tipping Point eventually entered the New York Times bestseller list as a paperback, and according to Gladwell, “that’s when it was a successful book.”

In short: every writer needs to spend as much time promoting their work as they did writing it.

Office Hours And Community

Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Community

Masterclass offers office hours and a Community where you can chat with other students and Masterclass employees.

It’s more a means of meeting other writers and asking mods about specific lessons.

Masterclass Community mods for this class also Gladwell’s homework assignments into the forum. Students then reply with their answers and get mini critiques from each other.

Don’t expect Gladwell, or the other popular Masterclass instructors, to appear and critique your work though.

This Community serves as a form of accountability but to be honest, you’re better off writing a piece of nonfiction and publishing it on a platform like Medium.

Is Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass Worth It?

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 listen to Malcolm Gladwell talk about the science behind popular books like Blink, Outliers and his compilation: What the Dog Saw. 

If you’d rather write fiction and want to become a better writer, you’re better off taking a course by Masterclass instructors like Neil Gaiman or James Patterson.

FAQs on Malcolm Gladwell Masterclass Review

Why learn from Malcolm Gladwell?

Malcolm Gladwell is one of the most well-known business and nonfiction writers in recent years. He’s also a columnist for the New Yorker. Gladwell has an uncanny knack for combining storytelling with data and research. Any nonfiction writer can learn about the craft and how to promote their work from him.


  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.

Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing Review

The Bottom Line

Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass is an excellent course for journalists and nonfiction writers. It’s also a good choice if you want to learn about his writing process.


  • Materials are well-produced
  • Includes practical nonfiction writing exercises
  • Gaiman doesn’t offer this writing advice anywhere else
  • Affordable


  • Less relevant for fiction writers
  • Understanding of Gladwell’s work required
  • Office hours of less value