You would think that writing a book, a poem, an article or even a blog post would be as simple as opening up your laptop and pouring out your brain. Think again. Whether your goal is to secure an agent, land a publishing deal, build a fan base or just to write for your own pleasure, you are likely to need a bit more than a vibrant imagination and a thesaurus in your back pocket. Creativity is, of course, an essential if you want to engage readers but depending on your level of experience you might also benefit from some of the wonderfully helpful resources the internet has to offer. I know I have.
Writing like any other art form, takes practice (and patience). If you want to produce your best work there are a few tools you would be wise to consider. Here’s a round up of my top five.
1. Grammar – You are going to need to do a lot of spelling and grammar homework if you want to come up with some polished copy. Grammarly offers a free download to help you spot common grammar and spelling mistakes and is quick and easy to install. If you are still confused or just want some added reassurance, check out Grammar Girl for some quick and dirty tips and tricks.
2. Show Don’t Tell – If you have ever written fiction you will have heard this adage time and time again, and it’s quite possible that it drives you crazy. Just when you think you’ve got it you start writing and quickly realise that actually, you haven’t got it at all. Arrrgggh! Anyone else? Yep. Amongst the resources I have turned to is The Writers’ Workshop where you can find tips on this topic and many others. Blogger & editor Ellen Brock also has some fantastic tips and examples to guide you through.
3. Find Your Voice – One of the best resources I have come across to help writers find their voice is The Definitive Guide to Writing on Your Terms by Rebecca T.Dickson. Written in Rebecca’s super sassy style and bursting with no nonsense advice and writing exercises, you can download a free pdf copy here.
4. Read Aloud – A text to speech software programme is an invaluable tool for picking up on grammatical and spelling errors, sticky sentences, paragraph fluency and stilted dialogue by taking your written words and reading them back to you. There are a number of options available, but I have used a free trial version of TextAloud with great results to pick up minor issues that had been missed during several rounds of proofreading. As with any free downloads, make sure you get them from a reputable source to avoid spam/malware issues.
5. Set The Pace – Pacemaker is a great resource for all procrastinating writers (so,all of us then?) and novelists in particular. This clever little website helps you meet your writing goals by enabling you to set your daily word count depending on whether you like to write for fun or need to turnaround the next bestseller in quick time. Your progress is plotted on a user friendly chart so you can see how many words you need to write per day to meet your goal. So simple, but so clever!