30 Resources for Writers to Improve Their Skills and Get Exposure
With too many writers jostling elbows to be 'the one' who gets that job, that project, that review or that commission, everyone needs to be on top of their game with skills honed and keyboards blazing.
Dotting the i's and crossing the t's
- Dragging out your children's or younger sibling's English language textbooks is just that; a drag. All you need to do is to click on the right place for revisiting the rules of the English language that you last learnt in grammar school (pun intended).
- If you sometimes forget that cannon is a big gun and canon has a range of meanings, varying from church dogma to a type of musical composition then refer to the A to Z of 'common word errors'. Possibly one of the the most handy resources that you will find online.
- Freelance writers often cross international boundaries when they are commissioned online. If you are schooled in jolly old Great Britain, you travel in an aeroplane, but if you stand up for the Star Spangled Banner or O Canada then you can bet you flew in an airplane. The Holy Grail of British, American and Canadian spellings might be a myth but this sure is a handy catalog(ue)!
The Scribe's Muse
- Once all your irregular verbs and appositives are in order, before you can refresh your memory on how to flowchart a plot or academic paper, you need an idea. Many best sellers and academic papers are just new versions of the old: writers often claim there are no more new ideas, but they neglect to mention how hard it is to be inspired, or inspiring, with any idea! These websites will give you the cliff notes to different streams of creative processes for writing and brainstorming.
- Of course, there is no singular World Wide Web answer sometimes: for Pablo Neruda, Isla Negra was an inspiration for many a poem and Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre were muses to each other. A vision, a song, a personal episode, something on the news, a half remembered dream. All these and more can serve as seeds of a new novel, short story, reportage or a research paper. And not all ideas can be traced back to their moment of conception, just as not all pieces of writing are penned down as response to a muse or inspiration!
And We All Start Here
- Before you begin, the darkest hour in writing is the hour after you were supposed to write something! Time management is one of the cornerstones for any kind of writing; this Mind Tools resource has an array of paraphernalia to help you understand your relationship with time!
- You know how some of the best ideas come to you in the shower or while in front of the mirror? You can use the excellent invention of liquid chalk markers to turn all the reflective surfaces in your house/apartment/condo/mansion into no-mess creative brainstorming space. Your bathroom will never be the same again.
- Armed with the idea, now you need to face the big white. That blank document, white board, or A4 that screams at you to start the writing process till you no longer remember what you wanted to say. You write, erase and rewrite that first sentence before you even complete it! Don't treat the first draft like the final version; it isn't meant to be pretty! If you want to start writing your fiction novel, this will give you a mapped out approach to conquer the big white.
- Academic paper due? The Dartmouth University's guide to writing an academic paper is extremely resourceful and easy to follow.
- An entertaining and visual guide for how to effectively get your idea across in a research paper.
- For the screenwriter: Final Draft is a very useful software that helps you keep your story in line and in the correct format.
- Once you have a framework and you have identified your intent, the audience, and the scope of your writing, identifying a writing style is the next big decision. An economic discourse on 'credit bailouts' should not read like an Ian Fleming novel! If you are writing for a news' publication or organization, it might have an existing style guide.
- Academic writing will have its own academic style guide and referencing formats.
- For the novice journalist, a Journalism 101 to help start a career.
- And of course no matter what style you adhere to, you will make it your own. Simple devices like paying attention to how the sentence sounds help create an experience for your reader. Online dictionaries can provide audio pronunciations, which will be very helpful when playing with words!
- Whether you're writing a 300 word essay or a novel matching Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, your research needs to be air tight. Of course with the internet, most research can be done online. Ipl, Google Scholar and Wolfram Alpha are just a few search engines at your fingertips.
- If you're a journalist and on the tail of any story, other than running down sources and tips, Google News, Yahoo News are just the tip of the 'berg'
- Twitter, Tumblr, and even Facebook are great sources for tips and hits. Though you cannot unquestioningly rely on information via all tweets, blogs and updates, there are always certain reliable organizations and people to follow! Also a great source for getting interesting material for building characters and plots.
- However, in the end don't take their word for it; always double check your sources!
Polishing and Reworking
Don't be scared to take the axe to some idea or character you worked on so lovingly! In fact, chances are even after all that research and the first draft you might want to scratch that and start over.
- A great resource to understand how to proceed from your first draft. Whatever you end up with, however, you must'
- Proof read!
Putting Yourself Out there: Sans Hesitation and Sans Shame
- A slightly caustic view of the publishing world, perhaps rightfully so.
- A more holistic guide to getting published
- If you aim to first be read by a wide audience without the publication credentials, then the last five years have worked towards just that! Blogs are no longer the equivalent of Adrian Mole's diaries. From The NYT's blogs (which are of course home to those who have made it) to any WordPress or Blogger service, you have a world to play in. You can send in blog entries to many a newspaper or online publication without being remunerated, but it's a great start to building a writing portfolio.
- Link up your blog with your Twitter account, with your website, Facebook page and any other social networking media you can find. If you use the right tags, keywords, or twitter trends, and do a little research on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you can be sure that people will wind up at your website!
- DIYSEO is a great place to start learning SEO tricks and applying them to your web writing pages!
- Register with freelance websites such as Elance, Guru or ScriptLance; these allow you to start earning money. Even if the articles you are paid for do not make the cut for a literary masterpiece, the income allows you to work on your own project(s)!
- Don't be shy! Write for as many people, places and publications as you can without compromising on your writing integrity or skill. Remember, like everyone else, your name will be Googled by someone commissioning you or considering your book proposal and when the results come up, your profile should read as a prolific and strong writer.