Useful Free Writer Resources for Aspiring Authors
by Helen Ryder Freelance Author
This past year has seen a lot of literary events take place across the country offering some fantastic opportunities for aspiring writers and editors alike gain access to vital information about everything in the writing world, from the politics of publishing to the creative process itself. Industry experts, professors, and writers from journalistic, academic, and creative fields gather to discuss various ideas and concepts which offer key advice as well as challenge current trends in publishing for popular and literary fiction and non-fiction. Networking also comprises an essential component of these events and as a result, many writers and editors walk away on the brink of new opportunities, goals, and dreams.
But for writers who are not within a commutable range of these events or simply cannot allot time on their schedule, then the online world is the next best thing. While it may not offer the same kind of engaging and integrative experience as in-person conferences, seminars, workshops and other social events, it does provide a venue and a widespread community which can offer invaluable guidance. Here are a few choice resources for writers which may come in handy – and best of all, they’re free!
There are two different types of resources which are useful for creative writing: 1) a database which has legal access to thousands of documents which fall into the genre, and 2) a resource which offers useful tips for improving creative writing skills. Bartleby, Poetry.com and Project Gutenberg provide an excellent collection of literary titles from all the classic writers, while Amazon also offers several free classics for kindle readers (those who don’t own a kindle can download an app for pc or smartphone) and some local libraries also offer these resources. Creative commons – where material is released into the public domain – is a great place to search for some free literature, as well as many university websites across the country.
The emergence of self publishing has also given rise to sites like wattpad, which not only feature a library of classics but also user-written creative work which is published and open for feedback; it can be a great exercise for beginners and developed writers who wish to share their material. As for writing tips, a few simple google searches will reveal a vast universe of information which is fantastic for the sake of variety, but writers must not be afraid to try out new techniques, kill old ones, reinvent themselves, move on or return to the familiar – after all, there is no absolute rule to writing. Purdue University offers a comprehensive database writing spanning from the basics to elaborate frameworks of writing principles, while Brain Pickings showcases fun, charming tidbits of advice from famous thinkers – a light-hearted yet passionate site which is always entertaining and inspiring.
Success in the publishing world – as well as the media world – doesn’t just depend on one’s ability to write specific types of fiction. It also requires a strong understanding of journalistic, academic, and technical writing just to name a few, and the many different voices which go alongside it. As the web becomes the primary source of information for just about everything, it’s important to be able to produce copy which can effectively help writers to market in the virtual world as well as the real one. Creative thinking is definitely an asset here, and the art of writing copy itself – given its highly strategic and innovative structure, as well as variety – is an excellent way to cultivate some good writing skills. Visiting professional sites which specialize in various forms of copy and offer reading samples is one good way to get an idea of what customers want. Xlibris, a leading publishing company, is also a great resource which offers some great guidelines for writers who are eager to venture into publishing and need a head start on crafting some copy for that particular field.
The World as a Classroom
Since the emergence of the mighty MOOC (massive open online course), leading academic institutions from all over the world have opened up their classrooms to the rest of the planet, giving access to some of the most acclaimed professors and fascinating topics of study at the university level. MIT, Harvard, Berkeley and UT are just a few of the major players on this circuit, offering courses in everything from advanced planetary science to studies in literature and writing. It’s a great way for aspiring writers to get started, with sites like edx and courser leading the way in free internet education. Most classes do not require pre-requisites, and students can opt to either audit the class or actively participate in course work to receive a grade at the end of the semester. All that is required is a fairly competent computer and internet connection for access into the lecture hall and some truly inspiring classes which animate the soul, and while in-class discussion is not available, there are discussion forums where ideas can be shared and cultivated so that a collaborate aspect is still present.
It’s an old tune but the most importance piece of advice which spans the board is practice, practice, practice – and use the internet to its full potential for this purpose, be it through blogs, social media previews and snippets, and more. With so many online writing communities available where people can give and receive feedback, develop their ideas and share knowledge, the prospective writer is in a better position than ever to learn and to make things happen in this rapidly changing world of information.