76 Resources for Writers (updated 2024)

76 Resources for Writers (updated 2024)

Before you get started, a few notes on the links. First of all, I don’t necessarily use or outright endorse all of these resources for writers myself. Thing is, in compiling this list I started thinking, “Who am I to judge what is helpful for other writers?” My goal is to provide you with a starting point for online exploration, not tell you what to do. So if you hate some of this stuff? Fine, not my fault! If you love it? I take full credit!

There really is a lot of stuff here. I recommend bookmarking this page. Come back any time to browse, because it took me days to compile and it’s not going anywhere.

If you’re self-publishing, don’t miss my warnings about iUniverse and Author Solutions.

Writing Prompts

Sometimes it’s not the writing that’s tricky. Sometimes it’s picking something to write about. Use these links for exploring different writing prompts for your blog, your personal journal, or even your next novel.

1800+ Creative Writing Prompt: From the folks at Reedsy. (You might also like the cloud wordprocessing software they offer.)

Plinky: Writing prompts change daily. You can upload images and then share your response on your blog or social media accounts.

Writer’s Digest Promptly Blog: Look for prompts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Includes flash-fiction prompts, activities and some Q&As.

Writing Prompts for Sci-Fi & Fantasy Lovers: A static page with 15 different Sci-Fi & Fantasy prompts to try. Don’t miss the other prompts for poetry and creative writing.

Technology Inspired Prompts: Another page from Writing Forward. I just couldn’t resist.

Red Writing Hood:  Fiction or non-fiction writing meme. Prompts are posted Tuesdays, and you can link up your posts on Fridays.

Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writing Prompts: Weekly writing prompts and link-up for networking with other writers and bloggers.

Help for Fiction Writers

It doesn’t matter what part of the writing process has you stumped, it can be so frustrating to hit a wall. These writer’s resources for fiction writers get you through some of writing’s major challenges.

Guide to Literary Agents: Writer’s Digest blog written by Robert Lee Brewer. A must read if you’re ready to query.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Tips for Writing Fiction: How could I not include something Vonnegut? He was born in Indianapolis. Eight short rules to make you a better writer.

5 Ways Not to Write a Novel: Sometimes we learn what to do; sometimes we learn what not to do. Number 2 on the list is one of my personal pet peeves. (Yet, sometimes I still catch myself doing it.)

Character Profile Form: Simple, but oh-so-handy tool for creating memorable characters.

101 of the Best Fiction Writing Tips: A four-part series on Write it Sideways. Basically another link round-up like this one. (Hint: bookmark posts like these for browsing later.)

9 Questions to Create a Novel: Using these 9 questions, authors can clarify the scope of their work and identify themes.

Regional Vocabularies: Yes, I linked to a Wikipedia article. Just my way of suggesting that you do some research to make your characters’ dialogue truly authentic.

General Writing

These writer’s resources are potentially helpful and inspirational no matter what you write. Some funny and unorthodox, some straight-laced and in your face.

50 of the Best Websites for Writers: EduChoice.org has compiled a pretty extensive list of links broken down by category—some obvious sites listed here, some not so obvious.

How to Use an Apostrophe: Oh yes I did, because I love the Oatmeal. If you already know how to use an apostrophe, then have a chuckle or two.

The Hot Author Report: I notice THAR is not currently accepting reviews, but you can still jump to the query page to request a feature. Couldn’t hurt, right?

101 Tips to Overcome Writer’s Block: I usually just read, but find what works for you. Tons of stuff to try, but #25 seems pretty damn scary if you ask me.

30 Books to Read Before You’re 30: Good writers read. A lot. How many of these have you read so far?

Ambiguous Word List: Some words are more flexible than others. This rather nifty little list sorts words from most to least flexible and allows you to more info on synonyms, hypernyms and hyponyms. Cool for word nerds.

I Write Like: Just plain fun. Copy and paste text from your WIP or your blog and find out who you write like. (Apparently, I write like H.P. Lovecraft, 20th century master of weird fiction.)

Plague Words and Phrases: They make it sound so medieval, don’t they? Just some junky and clunky phrases to avoid in your writing.

13 Writing Tips: I know, I know. Everyone has writing tips. But these aren’t just any writing tips; these are Chuck Palahniuk’s writing tips.

Tip of My Tongue: I’ve filed this one under “Things I Wish I’d Thought Of.” Looking for a word, but you just can’t get your brain to recall it? There just might be a way to find it after all. (There’s also an app.)

Why Copying Inspires Creativity: Think of Finding Forrester and maybe try copying a bit of something the next time you get stuck.

Manage Your Writing: The blog of my editing professor at IUPUI, Kenneth W. Davis, this site offers practical advice for sprucing up your business writing. (Hint: lots of these tips can be applied broadly across genres.)

Letter Writers Alliance: Writing improves with practice, and letters are a great way to practice. A blog friend of mine turned me on to this site. The LWA is no more, but the site is archived for posterity.

57 Tips for Writers, From Writers: King, Grisham, Hemingway—your favorite authors are all here to help you out.

Critique.org Workshops: If you really want to be an excellent writer, you want feedback on your work. Just one place you might look for peer review.

11 Stupidest Writing Mistakes: I love this post for the subheadings alone—constipated clauses, comma vomit, the death of adverbs, etc. etc. etc.

10 Grammar Rules You Can (And Should) Ignore: Breaking the rules of grammar is so much fun. It’s also very effective if you break the rules thoughtfully. As a linguistics minor and a language liberal, I heart this page.

Funds for Writers: A whole website dedicated to finding grants and other ways to financially support your dreams.

Poets & Writers: Lots of stuff to check out here, but I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that they maintain databases of creative writing contests and grants, MFA programs, and literary journals.

Freelance Writing

If you’re looking to pad your wallet or put food on the table, freelance writing is a viable career. (Just ask me, I know!) These writer’s resources for freelance writers can help you write better, find better jobs, and earn more money.

Word Count: Freelancing in the Digital Age: This is just one of those all-around good sites for information on freelance writing. Includes a weekly recommended reading feature, I think you’ll find helpful.

Freelance Writing Jobs: I get asked about 100 times per week where people can find freelance writing jobs. Here’s one place.

PoeWar: And here’s another place you might find some freelance writing job leads.

How to Create a Client Pricing Package: Overall, Freelance Folder is a great resource. I picked this post in particular, because freelance writers—yes, even some veterans—tend to fret about setting fees.

Networking, Classes & Workshops

Networking, classes, and writer’s workshops are invaluable. Some are free, some aren’t. Ultimately, it’s up to you to investigate and find the opportunity that helps you achieve your goals and fits into your budget and schedule.

The Freelance Writers Den: A subscription-based site for freelancers with an emphasis on learning how to earn more through webinars, articles, handouts, and teleclasses.

Gotham Writers’ Workshop: Online and NYC-based workshops for just about every kind of writer. Looks like classes run about $300.

Tameri Guide for Writers: Writing workshop and seminar materials offered online. I think this could be a great resource for building your own local workshop with writers in your area.

Critique Circle: Workshops and critiques for all types of writers. I suggest checking out the FAQ page to get information about how the site works.

10 Amazing Free Online Writing Courses: From Freelance Folder, these 10 courses focus on freelance writing skills with courses on marketing writing, journalism, and web writing.

The Crafty Writer’s Creative Writing Course: Another free online course. This one is offered by Fiona Veitch Smith and is designed for beginning writers.

Starting Your Author Blog

Lots of authors blog as a way to market themselves and their works, but also as a way to develop a writing habit. Here you’ll find blogging resources that give you inspiration and questions to ponder.

Creative Something: This site isn’t just for bloggers, but it certainly works for bloggers. It’s a great reading if you’re looking for creative inspiration.

The Author’s Dilemma: To Blog or Not to Blog: Blog, Silly! There’s no question (at least in my mind). However, this article considers blogging styles and weighs the pros and cons for authors.

Three Keys to Successful Author Blogging: Some of these tips might seem obvious, but there are plenty of authors out there new to blogging. Consider your content focus, interacting with readers, and collaborating.

The Best Author Blogs: Another page from The Internet Writing Journal, this is a nice, compact list of author blogs you might want to follow.

31 Days to Building a Better Blog: ProBlogger has a newer version of the 31 day challenge, but the one I’ve linked to is free. You’re welcome.

Five Reasons Why Blogging Improves Your Writing: I agree enthusiastically. I can attest to all five of these points personally, and feel that #1 is the most important thing for writers.

Blogs By Writers

While compiling this list, Dan asked me, “How are author blogs resources for writers?” Hmph. How are they not?

Beverly Lewis

Charles Stross

Cory Doctorow

Erik Larson

Erin Morgenstern

Erin O’Brien

Frederik Pohl

Heather Massey

John Scalzi

Justine Larbalestier

Meg Cabot

Michael Ruhlman

Neil Gaiman

P.C. Hodgell

Paolo Bacigalupi

Ransom Riggs

Rick Riordan

Steve Salerno

Terry Pierce

Valerie Frankel

Miscellaneous Resources for Writers

Other random tidbits of information I didn’t want to pass up.
Ghostwriting for Beginners: Who doesn’t want to learn something from the Grumpy Old Bookman? Learn what you never knew you never knew about ghostwriting.

Writing Your Own Cookbook: Just a few helpful hints from from the blog of David Lebovitz on preparing to compile and publish your recipes in a cookbook.

Inkspot.com: If you’re looking for somewhere to host your writing portfolio online, this could work. Site is hosted by Writing.com.

7 Great Online Research Resources for Writers: Research is essential to writing well, even outside of the classroom. These suggested research resources come from Daily Writing Tips.

Resources for Children’s Writers: A pretty thorough list of resources for children’s authors created by Rachelle Burk. She covers it all from self-publishing to illustrators and images.

What’s Your Point of View: First person? Third person omniscient? What does it all mean? Exploring and discussing points of view in literature.

Query Letter Checklist: If you’re ready to start querying agents, check out Janet Reid’s Query Letter Checklist before you send. Short but sweet checklist of everything you should include.

#BLBC12 Judge: Sulekha Rawat

[stextbox id=”black”]With the Brave Little Blogger Contest (#BLBC12 on Twitter) less than a month away, it’s time to start introducing our volunteer judges. You can learn more about Sulekha in the next Writing Contest Newsletter. Sign Up Now.[/stextbox]

Meet Sulekha Rawat

I WRITE…My life is my Muse and my Muse is my life. I embrace friends and their pain becomes mine, their joys make me happy. I can’t detach myself from those I care about and that hurts me at times, but it’s all an integral part of who I am. I sing off-key, dance with two left feet. Life is interesting and challenging but I wouldn’t have it any other way because, “Life is for living”, is the best advice given by a dear friend.I greatly enjoy movies and music. Books are my passion.I love writing about the Sun, Moon, Sea, Love, Life, heartbreaks, food, clothes…etc. I tweak my writing with humour because a life without some laughs in it is a sad one. Hope to share my stories with you all for a long time to come.

Sulekha’s Website: http://www.socialpotpourri.com

Sulekha’s Blog: http://www.sulekharawat.com

Sulekha on Twitter: @Sulekkha

Sulekha on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/luckkss

 

For More Contest Information

  • View all posts tagged “Writing Contest”
  • Check out Contest Central
  • Advertise during #BLBC12

ABCs of Freelance Writing: T is for Trade

Trading (or bartering) is a legitimate way to do business for some freelance writers. Instead of working for money, you can do work in exchange for things you need to grow your business.

For example, I once made an arrangement to write several blog posts in exchange for some behind-the-scenes work on an old blog template that was giving me fits. The miracle worker I worked with got some great content, and I got a more functional site. It was a total win-win situation.

The more veteran the freelance writer, the less likely she is to rely on trading or bartering services. However, it still works out from time to time, and it’s a great way to build relationships with other small business owners. Before you barter though, beware!

Tips for Trading or Bartering

  • Work with someone you trust. I don’t suggest finding a barter partner by posting anonymous ads or anything. Work with people who have a solid reputation in their field—whether they’ve established their reputation online or through real-life professional networks.
  • Agree to the terms before the work gets started. It can be a little tricky trying to determine what’s a fair trade. Is writing worth more per hour than logo designing? It’s not always cut and dry, particularly when you consider the differences in experience levels. Work out the details of your arrangement before anyone starts work. No one wants to feel like they’ve become an indentured servant.
  • Don’t trade for things you don’t need. Remember that your small business is supposed to make money. Politely decline an offer that doesn’t make good business sense. Trading limits you because you can’t, for example, pay the light bill with a new blog template. When money is what you need, take bartering options off the table.
  • Know your worth. The most important part of setting up a trade for services is to understand what your services are worth. Stand your ground, because trading is a lot like negotiating. There are plenty of people out there looking to get something for nothing.

 

 

[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About Word Carnivals”]This post is part of the January Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners. (It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!) Check out the rest of the fabulous carney work here. [/stextbox]

The Definition of Freelance Writing

A guest post by Charlotte Bumstead

“Freelance writing isn’t for everyone.” These wise words were offered to me from my university professor after graduation. And it’s something I have struggled with ever since. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. Sure, I had my moments as a child when I would dream of being a veterinarian or wonder what it would be like to be CEO of a large company. But I would always return to the words. They’re my safety net; my umbrella on a rainy day. To me, everything in life is made clearer and more manageable once it is written down. Little did I know, making a living out of the words would be much more complicated. And such survival tips weren’t exactly part of the required curriculum for earning my degree.

Many of the professors of my program were freelance writers who taught on the side. Perhaps for some, this is a planned career path, but I was aware the possibility of needing a double income was a risk I was taking in entering this field. Still, it did not deter me. The reward in following my passion and fulfilling a creative lifestyle has always been beyond dollar signs, in my eyes.

I decided to take the freelancing route because I really liked the idea of being my own boss and working my own hours; from wherever in the world I happened to be. I was aware this meant climbing a different type of ladder—one that could quite possibly collapse when I reached the fifth (or twenty-fifth) rung. But then I would find a new ladder, and apply my climbing experience as developed from the previous one. So eventually, with a little skill and a lot of determination, I would reach the top.

When people ask me what I do and I tell them I am a freelance writer, I tend to get a mix of reactions. Often I can hear the sympathy in their replies as they say, “oh, good for you,” or “wow, that’s got to be tough.” It’s true—the field is super competitive, and no, I don’t have a guaranteed paycheque that gets automatically deposited into my account every two weeks. Of course, all jobs have their pluses and minuses. And as I make my way along, carving my own path, I am constantly redefining what it takes to be a freelance writer. I thought I’d share some of the descriptions I’ve learned so far:

A Freelance Writer Is Ready For Anything

It’s important to be open to new opportunities and unpredictable possibilities. Today you might be writing about the top ten dog parks in Tennessee; but tomorrow your writing could change the world. You never know who will be reading your work, or who you might end up meeting for coffee the next day.

A Freelance Writer Controls His Own Results

Whether you’re a procrastinator or a go-getter—you decide—it is you who will see the effects of your choices firsthand. Work hard and put your greatest effort into every assignment to find the best results.

A Freelance Writer Does Whatever It Takes to Get By

This might mean taking on a second job when struggling to find new clients, or it could mean waking up two hours earlier to find time to write before heading to your 9 to 5. No one is going to hand over work to make life easier for you. If you want to be a writer and you have bills to pay or a family to feed, you might need to pick up a part-time gig on the side here and there, or give up the reality TV and spend the free time at your computer instead.

A Freelance Writer is Constantly Learning

As you continue to grow and improve, there will always be new challenges and fresh experiences. Take advantage of the wealth of information offered to you from everyone you meet and everything you read.

A Freelance Writer Lets Her Creativity Shine

Personally, I am happiest when in an artistic and inspired state of mind. It is a writer’s job to soak up every experience and share it with the world. Those amazing moments (both big and small) that really struck you as something special—chances are someone else will think they’re special too.

So yes, it’s true, freelance writing isn’t for everyone. But if you decide it is right for you, then you’re definitely in for a thrilling ride.

 Charlotte Bumstead is a freelance writer and blogger, covering a wide-range of topics, including: environmental, health, entertainment, technology and finance.

You can find her blog and portfolio on her website, or follow her on Twitter @c_bumstead.

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Playing the Name Game

Life Lessons for Writers Contacting Editors

A guest post by Terri Huggins

The name game. It’s a game that I’ve gotten way to familiar with over the years. The rules are simple. After mulling over every aspect of a pitch and practically driving a hole into the delete button, you proceed to rack your brain over the correct way to address a new editor. The hard part is realizing that you never know how to win the game; especially when there are so many options.

If you are anything like me, you play this game on almost a daily basis and you still haven’t mastered the concept. Whose genius idea was it to have so many ways to address a person anyway? I think having the option to call someone by Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, or by first name is over-kill.

In all honesty, the decision on addressing an editor wasn’t always so difficult for me. My parents’ tough love and strong feelings about respect and formality were instilled in me at a young age. And it’s still very much a part of me. Because of that upbringing everyone who I perceived to be my elder or superior was always addressed as Mr. or Ms. in person and in writing.  I even did the extra legwork for unisex names to make sure I addressed people properly. (Having a unisex name myself, I understand how annoying it can get to be wrongly called Mr. Terri Huggins so frequently.)

It wasn’t until I read a few advice columns geared towards writers that suggested pitches be written in a relaxed and conversational tone to show personality. Some even went as far as saying that addressing editors in a formal way was too rigid and showed no personality. Of course, I then went into panic mode. Was my attempt at being respectful, coming off as rigid and resulting in my pitches getting ignored? Nonetheless, I continued to address editors I hadn’t worked with formally unless told otherwise. Even after I got the ok to call them by their first name, I still found it difficult to break the habit.

However, getting permission to address editors informally when working with them got me thinking. Does that mean I was originally supposed to address them by their first name in the pitch? Did I do it wrong completely? Or was I just extended that courtesy having worked with the editor already?

I decided to do a little investigation by asking a few editors what they preferred to be called.  Unfortunately, I received a bunch of mixed responses that didn’t exactly help in the decision process.  The responses ranged from preferring a first-name basis initially to those who thought being addressed formally made the editor feel old and mean or that the writer was out of touch with the times. A few said that in this increasingly informal society, it is pretty much expected to use first names. Of course, a handful of editors suggested staying on the safe side by addressing editors formally for initial communication and then using first name for future correspondence. However, most editors said as long as their name was spelt correctly, it wouldn’t lead to automatic pitch deletion. (Definitely, helps put me at ease!)

While I’m still not convinced about the right way to reference an editor, I guess the moral of the story is to do what feels right considering there will always be many different opinions of the matter.

Terri Huggins is a Freelance Writer/Journalist in NJ who specializes in bridal, beauty, relationships, education and business topics. She also writes marketing paraphernalia such as brochures, press releases, blogs and newsletters for local businesses. By night, Terri is a arts enthusiast, prima ballerina, education activist, and dedicated volunteer. Connect with Terri on Twitter: TERRIficWords or stop by her blog, www.terrificwords.wordpress.com. Professional Website: http://www.writingbyterri.com/

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Writing Contest Prize Donations

Last September some very generous prize donors—including Small Business Bonfire, All Freelance Writing, Dreaming Iris Design, The Writers Den, and Inky Clean—partnered with me for Writers’ Week, offering more than $725 in prizes to the Writers’ Week Writing Contest Winners.

If your company would like to support the next writing contest, simply fill out the form below. You will receive an advertising slot on writing event posts through April 2012 and will be given full credit for your contribution on the rules page. (View this page for an example.)

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Photo credit: ba1969

 

Sponsor the Next Writing Contest on Suess's Pieces

I’m getting some great info from the writing contest survey, and several readers expressed an interest in advertising their blog or business during the event. Basically, there will be two ways to do this: through the writing contest eNewsletter or in the Suess’s Pieces sidebar.

Purchase an eNewsletter or Sidebar Ad Now

Ad Prices

  • eNewsletter Text – $7
  • Sidebar Text – $10
  • eNewsletter Image (125 x 125) – $20
  • Sidebar Image (125 x 125) – $30

How to Purchase and Ad

  1. Click on the link above and fill out the form.
  2. You will be directed to PayPal to finish your transaction.
  3. That’s it!

Other Important Details

  • Ads will be displayed in a section titled “Sponsors.”
  • Image ads will appear above text ads and will be displayed in the order received.
  • Text ads will appear below any image ads and will be displayed in the order received.
  • The ad form closes on February 29, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. No purchases will be accepted after this time.
  • Suess’s Pieces sidebar ads will appear in the sidebar for all official event posts published in February, March and April 2012 and will remain on those pages indefinitely.
  • Ads in the eNewsletter will appear in all eNewsletters published in February, March and April 2012. (There will be a minimum of 5 issues)

Although I’ve made every attempt to ensure the form works properly, please let me know if you have trouble making a payment by contacting me at emily@emilysuess.com.

Thanks for your support!

 

Image created using www.istockphoto.com.

The Paper Chase

A guest post by Jeff Gregory

I guess I see my writing as a beautiful woman that I am trying to figure out how to court.  But like anything worthwhile, she isn’t making it easy on me.  No, writing is evasive.  She wants me to earn her affection.

I first caught a glimpse of her when I was in the third grade.  She came out in a writing assignment.  The teacher, I think, was merely interested in my knowledge of subjects, predicates, and verb conjugations.  Little did either of us know that she ignited a spark in me – a literary puberty, one might say.  And as puberty would have it, I was confused about what it was that I wanted.  I wasn’t prepared for the wiles of Writing.  There she was, but not with blonde curls and blue eyes summoning the wild oats of a young buck, my seducer was the thrill of a boy’s adventure in a cave in the forest – flowing from my own hand with a life all its own.   Then she was gone.

I never totally forgot about her. Years later, she spied me from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.  In eighth grade, I dreamed up a Star Trek novel.  I made it through about seven chapters before my young mind was distracted by something else.  Yet, I was enthralled by bringing life to people and adventures.

My crush could not stay away. In high school, I wrote a poem.  It was similar to Poe’s The Raven.  It was a dark story using rhyme.  For the first time, writing batted her lovely eyes at me.  A friend of mine insisted on keeping the poem.  That was the first time I knew the romance was on – that this could be the love that I waited for.  However, waiting wasn’t enough.  I had to win her over.  The chase was on.

In college, my flame had transformed into somewhat of an intellectual.  An associate professor sat down and taught me to write essays in my freshman year.  I loved the structure, the rules.  My romance could actually have a formula – something that wouldn’t fail me, like math.  Two plus two is always four, right? On that stage it never did fail me, but I realized a romance is not really a romance if I only get to see her at work.  She wasn’t mine yet, so I continued the pursuit.

Since then, I have always tried to keep an eye on her and figure some way to finally make her mine. I have written a few blogs, worked as a columnist, and have done some freelance work. I have also started several versions of the “great American novel.”  Part of me thinks that is the real wedding – the successful, thought-provoking novel.  Another fragment of my mind believes that my love will always be elusive and unattainable because mystery is the biggest part of the romance.  Some day, I may let you know.  I plan to write my own epitaph.

Jeff Gregory does freelance writing and was formerly a weekly sports columnist for The National Indoor Football League.  He is currently the executive director of the Henderson-Henderson County, KY Human Rights Commission.  You can read his Psychosomatic Wit at http://psychosomaticwit.blogspot.com.

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Virtual Goodie Bag for Writers

I’m no extreme couponer, but I do like to get something for nothing every now and again. This little collection of freebies for writers is my way of saying thanks for a great year in 2011 without handing you baked treats that will wreck your new diet. If you know of other free stuff on the internet for writers, please tell us about them in the comments.

Connect

  • Writers and Writers-2 are lists I curate on Twitter. Follow them to connect with other writers (and the occasional agent, publisher, editor or literary organization.) The only reason I created two lists is that I ran out of room in the first one. Stupid limits. I’m sure eventually I’ll have a Writers-3 to share.
  • SheWrites is a free social networking site for writers set up on a Ning platform. To be honest, it’s packed pretty heavily with literary/author types of writers at the moment, but there is still plenty of valuable information freelancers can cull from member posts. If you go, friend me.
  • Follow writers on Google+. For that matter, follow whatever shared Google+ circles float your boat. Have you seen this list? Follow writers, authors, aspiring writers, romance authors, screenwriters, science fiction writers, NaNoWriMoers. I mean, seriously? If you’re one of those people complaining that Google+ is nothing but dead air, you’re not doing it right. P.S. You can find and follow me here.

Learn

  • Revive Your Inbox, a 21-day program to promote better email skills and habits and help you organize your inbox. This is run by Baydin, the people who do Boomerang for Gmail. By the way, Boomerang is another freebie (as long as you stick with the free version) that you might want to check out. I use the free version for scheduling my own emails.
  • Free, self-paced online fiction writing course hosted by The Open University.
  • Use the free keyword density analyzer from All Freelance Writing if you’re working on search-friendly content for your clients—because math is fun, but not that fun.

Grow

  • AP Style Quiz. This quiz ran during Writer’s Week and continues to be a popular post on the blog. Go ahead, test your AP skills.
  • 100 Ways to Find Ideas for Your Blog Posts  (Kindle eBook, free at time of posting.)
  • Invoice up to three clients for free and track income and expenses with Freshbooks (affiliate link). Good for newbies, part-timers or those looking a free trial before they buy.

ABCs of Freelance Writing: S is for Self-Discipline

Sometimes when I tell someone I’m a freelance writer, she’ll respond, “Oh, I could never work freelance. I just don’t have the self-discipline for it. I’d want to goof off all the time.”

I usually respond by saying that she’d be surprised how much she could accomplish—if only her next meal depended on it.

It never fails to get a chuckle, but it’s true. Some of the most free-spirited, schedule-hating people I know are fantastic freelancers because they know that buckling down for a few hours every day will get the bills paid. And acting like they’re self-disciplined for a while is usually more appealing to them than bending over backwards for The Man.

How to Master the Art of Self-Discipline

(Or better yet, how to wing it and get the same results.)

  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses. When you know what you’re bad at, you can beat yourself up about it compensate for it.
  2. Understand that creative time equals work time. Don’t mistakenly think that watching a cartoon can’t qualify as work. Sometimes it’s not so much about self-discipline as it is seeking out projects you are sure to enjoy. If the next article you write requires you to know Bugs Bunny inside and out, awesome! Put “watch cartoons” on your day planner.
  3. Use lists. Know what you need to get done every day, write those things down, and then start knocking them out one by one. You don’t have to tackle the list in order. You don’t have to finish all the tasks in one  sitting. And you don’t have to tell your client that you played Skyrim for 30 minutes before you did the final edits on his web copy. You just have to get your taks done  (and done well) when it counts.
  4. Have a mantra. My personal favorite is, “If I don’t work, I can’t buy things.”
  5. Have a plan. If you do goof off every once in a while or veer off course a little, it’s nice to have a plan to reference and get you back on track. Whether it’s a business plan or a list of goals write ’em down’, type ’em up, or tell your digital recorder all about it.

Are you a freelancer? What tips and tricks do you use to help you stay on task?

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