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Whether Self-Taught or Not

I’ve talked these past two weeks about various aspects of writing. For those who still feel adrift because they just came into the field, I’m going to use this opportunity to provide a few paths to explore. These are ones I’ve found especially helpful over the past few years.

Wherever a writer goes or whoever she talks to in the field, she will always find help and guidance along the way. David Farland, the best-selling author and teacher, says, “Nobody makes it alone. We each build on one another.” Farland should know. He’s well-known in two genres and still teaches.

Take small opportunities to grow as a writer. If you swing it, attend a two-day event or conference in your area. You’re not any less a writer if you don’t have the cash for hotel expenses. If you can drive to the event each day and be home at night, so be it. The important thing is to meet and mingle with the writers who are there to talk about words, their use, and how you fit into that picture.

Many online opportunities recur each year.WriteOnCon is a free online writer’s conference with plenty of firepower to begin on the writing track. This year’s conference will take place on August 14 and 15, with the theme “Back to Basics.” The only thing you’ll spend on this one is your time and effort.

If you have the ability to pay a bit for instruction, but have family duties and a family; take a course, either on-line or at a local college. Many courses and workshops are available for varying costs. Currently there are a double handful of free online writing classes from major universities across the country. Their subjects range on everything from poetry reading and writing basics to academic and research writing, along with levels of editing prowess and technical work.

Several major writers offer workshops and classes as well. David Farland has several classes that will work for all levels of writing experience. He also puts out a free newsletter called “Daily Kick in the Pants” for jump starting a person’s writing day. This one is a real winner.

Learn how the business operates. For those who still think that being a writer is nothing more than putting some words on paper, handing it in to an editor, and sitting back to wait for royalty checks to roll in, get a grip on the nearest heavy support. Reality is about to slap you hard and send you reeling.

If your budget simply won’t stretch to include any kind of off-site conference or workshop, hop over to Suzanne Lieurance’s website. Suzanne knows this business inside and out and is one of the best writing coaches around. Her Working Writer’s Club was developed to help guide and encourage those who’re serious about writing. She also has a free newsletter that outlines everything that’s available for free or for members only. Check it out. You won’t regret it.

Writers and Editors Network also takes the business seriously. Check out its offerings, newsletter, and help. There are competitions and insider news as well.

Writer’s Digest also offers a free newsletter and free writing tutorials. Take the opportunity to see what’s offered and what will work for you. Julie Oblander is the Online Education Manager, who provides so much for the student who will listen.

Writer Magazine has its own benefits for those who will invest in a subscription, which in this case is a steal. Listings of markets complete with a dedicated search engine, listings of agents and book publishers, contests and other competitions, as well as teaching articles and archives can keep the writer reading, learning and happy for weeks. Beware: you may not want to come back to your daily reality once you start down this road.

And finally, one of my absolute favorites; Poets and Writers Magazine has more between its covers and on its website than you can read in a week. Tutorials, archives, contest and competition listings, and more. Don’t overlook this one. It’s a treasure.

Know that writing takes time to master. You can take formal training through a college or university, online or on campus. You can also learn through specialized workshops, conferences, online forums and free classes. Regardless of the path taken, you can learn to write.

The most important piece of knowledge to remember throughout the process is that it takes time and practice to write well. Some “naturals” have been fortunate enough to grab that brass ring the first time out. I’d be willing to bet that most, if not all, will tell you that the second time round came harder for them.

There’s nothing wrong with being new at this game. Believe in yourself and define your goals with as much precision as you can. Those two necessities will help for years to come as you begin to navigate your way through the sea of sometimes conflicting demands of writing. This is a business, after all. You will be an entrepreneur as a writer. All new businesses have a learning curve. Yours has just begun.

I’ve provided links to those online helpers who raise the flag of possibility for us all. Take advantage of this small opportunity, if you’ve never explored some of these sites. Take the time to discover what’s available to you.

  1. March 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Hi, what a great web blog. I usually spend hours on the net reading blogs on various subjects. And, I really would like to praise you for writing such a fabulous article. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and yes you got it. This is really informative and I will for sure refer my friends the same. Thanks.

    • claudsy
      March 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm

      Thanks. It’s always good to hear that people enjoy my writing.


  2. March 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing this wealth of information and resources! And thank you for the encouragment!

    • claudsy
      March 13, 2012 at 11:40 pm

      Thank you for stopping by for a look-see. Glad you found something you might be able to use. I’m always glad to encourage anyone in need of it.


  3. March 14, 2012 at 9:26 am

    “The most important piece of knowledge to remember throughout the process is that it takes time and practice to write well,” and the bit about “believing in ourselves,”…thank you for all of this! :)’s to you my dear, Clauds.

    • claudsy
      March 14, 2012 at 10:56 am

      You’re welcome, Hannah.

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