How does one get started as a writer? This is a question I’m asked regularly, and I wanted to share some of my favorite resources. There are a million books and courses out there, so please forgive me if I left off your favorite–or write about it in the comments.
- poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan Wooldridge is a wonderful, playful book that is fun and accessible guide for discovering poetry on nature walks, stealing words from books and generally creating a nurturing space where poetry grows. It makes creative writing fun and not painful, with joyful exercises to try if you wish. I was lucky enough to attend one of Wooldridge’s workshops and interviewed her for my podcast: stay tuned for that.
- Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg is a classic. It is all about writing as practice. Keep your hand moving, lose control, go for the jugular and don’t think.
- Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World With Your Words and Stories and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually DO It by SARK is a supportive and practical book with inspiring ideas and exercises. You’ll know simply by picking it up whether or not you’ll love it.
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott is a humorous book with practical advice and an ample dosage of humor.
- Writer’s Market by Robert Lee Brewer is a good start for figuring out which magazines cover topics you want to write about, how to craft a query letter and what you’re likely to get paid. There is an online version and two book versions (one which includes an annual on-line subscription).
- Media Bistro’s paid Avant Guild membership provides access to a How-To-Pitch Guide for magazines, which goes a little more in depth than the Writer’s Market does. You can check out some free samples on their site.
- The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell really cuts through a lot of misconceptions on freelance writing. The authors are incredibly savvy, strategic and smart. Formichelli also offers consultations, e-courses, query reviews, a sample packet of successful queries and an excellent blog. Highly recommended.
- The Unconventional Guide to Freelancing is not a physical book specifically for freelance writers, but actually a PDF for freelancers of all kinds (artists, designers, etc. as well as writers) written by Charlie Gilkey of Productive Flourishing fame. In addition to the PDF, you get 3-5 audio interviews and transcripts as well as some handy files on contracts, key lessons and recommended resources, depending on which version you choose to buy. The Guide is particularly useful for managing your time and energy, cash flow management, and the nuts and bolts of building your business.
For Intermediate/Advanced Writers
- Freelance Success is an amazing online resource for established, professional non-fiction writers and editors. The cost is $99/year, and it’s worth it simply for the weekly newsletter, which includes market guides based on interviews with top editors. But FLX also has an amazing group of savvy writers who are extremely helpful. Being able to tap into a network of rock stars is extraordinarily helpful–and the search feature on the forum comes in handy. The site also provides access to various tools and databases with information on magazines and other markets. Although these are often outdated, they do provide a great starting point for research. There is also a query challenge twice a year where writers can get assigned to a team and try to send out a plethora of queries, ideally leading to a stream of jobs. The site is an invaluable tool.
- Erik Sherman teaches classes for established writers. I took an online marketing course from him, and found his approach refreshingly honest, interesting and accessible.
For Copywriting, Blogging and Marketing
One word: Copyblogger.
Want to Write a Book?
- Janet Goldstein runs a boutique publishing and strategy firm based in New York City, and works regularly to help both fiction and nonfiction writers take their work to the next level (whether that’s self-publishing, traditional publishing, or one of several other options.) I’d recommend perusing her website, listening to all the free audio teleclasses, looking at her booklist (if you’re serious about publishing) and perhaps signing up for a class, if it feels right.
On My Desk
I recently purchased the World Changing Writing Workshop In A Box, which I’m sure I’ll have great things to say about once I finish listening to it since it was lovingly created by Pace and Kyeli, and they are awesome.
I also have a copy of the 6-Figure Freelancer on my desk, and have been itching to buy a copy of the Well-Fed Writer.
This post is just the start of what will be a running list that I hope to update from time to time. I hope that it provides a good starting-off point and is helpful. Feel free to leave your own burning suggestions in the comments!
And if you just want someone to write something for you, or need a manuscript proofread or edited, take a look at my services!