For many people, writing is like second nature. Some are born lucky and possess a natural way with words. For others, mastering their craft involves days, weeks, months or years of reading, careful study and intense practice.
Some of the most prolific writers in the world will tell you that they work very hard to improve their craft and that it’s a never ending endeavor, even though they’re already considered to be the best in their field.
If you’re a writer wanting to hone your craft you probably have a sky high stack of reference material or a web folder chock full of bookmarks that you turn to for education and inspiration.
Helpful Resources for Self-Published Writers
What follows is a collection of seven resources that any writing working to improve their skills can turn to for help and inspiration.
- Quick and Dirty Tips (formerly known as Grammar Girl)
Mignon Forgarty (the Grammar Girl) is a master of the English language and an experienced technical writer.
She started her website with the goal of it becoming a source for aspiring and experienced writers where they could get help for improving their use of grammar.
Today Grammer Girl has grown and evolved into Quick and Dirty Tips, a collection of short and easy to digest tutorials on various elements of writing.
The website, which helps writers to improve their skills in areas like proper word choice and complex grammar rules, has spawned New York Times Best Seller books and now has an editorial staff that puts out fresh new content focused on new developments in the English Language on a daily basis.
Sign up for their newsletters and listen in on podcasts regularly to pick up helpful tidbits.
Like Quick and Dirty Tips, the resource known as ‘Grammarly’ focuses on helping writers improve their grammar skills and overall use of the written word. The big difference however, lies in its delivery.
Grammarly is a software that helps you to improve your writing by looking for common and more obscure grammatical (250 different types) mistakes in a text document.
Along with pointing out exactly where you made mistakes with grammar issues like passive voice, wordy sentences and confused prepositions, the software also explains why the word use was wrong, which helps you to avoid making similar errors in the future.
You can go straight to the Grammarly website and copy and paste your text right into the software for analysis. However, it’s also available as a browser extension, web-based app and Microsoft add-in option.
Use Grammarly to edit your manuscripts and over time you’ll find yourself making mistakes much less often.
Imagine a constantly growing collection of writing resources, contests, tips and tools as well as a bustling community of writers of all levels coming together to give and receive tips that help them to advance in their respective writing fields and achieve their goal of being published.
That’s exactly what you get with Writer’s Digest. Initially launched in 1920 as a magazine geared towards writers, it was then known as ‘Successful Writing’.
Today Writer’s Digest has grown to become the premier digital hub for all things writing related. While the magazine is published eight times annually, the majority of its followers converge on the website to consume newly released content.
Along with having an extensive library of interviews and how-to articles, Writers Digest is a source of valuable industry contacts like literary agents and publishing companies.
Another unique aspect of Writer’s Digest is that its influence spills outside of the printed page and digital space with regularly scheduled events such as conferences, workshops and lectures geared towards self-development and networking with like minds.
- The Elements of Style
A classic that every writer should read at some point in their life is The Elements of Style, originally written and self-published in 1919 by William Struck Jr., a Professor of English at Cornell University.
The book was later revised several times by E.B. White and his successors, with the most recent revision being released in the year 2000.
Widely regarded as one of the best books ever written on the art of writing, The Elements of Style is an American English style guide that offers an exploration of various essential elements of writing well, which include composition, word usage and form.
Considered by some as an outdated title, The Elements of Style is somewhat of a cult classic among writers that is still going strong as a source of writing fundamentals at close to 100 years after its initial release.
No one knows good writing when they see it quite like another writer. Avid fans of the written word also tend to be able to spot a manuscript that could use some work from miles away.
If you think that your manuscript could benefit from a review and critique from novice and more experienced writers, Scribophile may be exactly what you need.
Developed as a community for writers, Scribophile is a gathering place for writers who desire to improve their craft with help from likeminded individuals.
With membership in the thousands, there are always several writers eager to review and give feedback on your work.
Along with being able to give and receive reviews and critiques, the community also provides training in the form of workshops and resources for writers of all skill levels and interests.
Like most other kinds of artists, every writer eventually develops their own unique method of getting inspired to create and to come up with ideas as they move through the writing process.
For this reason mind maps have become popular, as they make visualizing concepts and making connections and associations between ideas much easier.
Now imagine if you took the creative visualization of mind mapping and combined it with the helpful practicality of a dictionary (which every writer should already have on their desk). The result is the incredible tool known as Visuwords.
Simply enter a word and the software reveals word associations, synonyms and concepts that help to spark new ideas and point to unexplored directions for your writing.
If you’ve ever found yourself sitting and staring at your computer screen with your mind as blank as an unused art canvas you can appreciate a good source of creative inspiration.
The Imagination Prompt Generator by Creativity Portal is the perfect tool for those times when you attempt to dip into your well of ideas and keep coming up dry.
It works by posing a series of random questions and statements that you can answer to find inspiration for what to write next or for future projects you may be working on.
Example questions and statements include:
- Define peace.
- I wish I looked like…
- Describe a time when you lost yourself in the service of someone else. How did it feel?
- What are your limitations, and are they self-imposed?
Sometimes finding inspiration is all about asking the right questions.
The key to becoming an exceptional writer is to never stop learning. Each day brings another opportunity to discover something you didn’t know before and at the very least, the chance to view things you already know from a different perspective.
Explore these resources and use them as tools to broaden your knowledge on the subject of writing, then watch as your creativity and productivity skyrocket to levels far beyond your imagination.