As an aspiring writer I find the internet to be an extremely valuable tool as well as a colossal drain on my writing time. There are fantastic resources available to new writers that quite frankly I would not have survived without. On the other hand, even these great resources can be an excuse not to write. I’ve listed the links to each website or tool that I have used in my short journey as a writer. I hope you find them useful but I caution you to only use what you need at the moment.
No matter how much you read about writing, nothing can replace the value of putting words to the page and nothing you read on the internet will improve your writing more than simply practicing the craft of writing. So use these resources but use them when you can’t be writing.
Writer blogs are a dime a dozen and the quality and experience ranges from the unknown aspirant right up to the prolific professional. There is something to take from each of the blogs I have listed. Gain inspiration from the unknown pups and gain motivation from the old dogs.
Dean Wesley Smith is a prolific writer who has written and edited dozens of novels. He also has donated an inordinate amount of his time and efforts to shepherding new writers along the path to success.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch is another great writer who has given a great deal back to the aspirant community. She blogs about her own writing along with tips on writing and marketing. In particular, check out here Freelancer’s Survival Guide posts.
David Farland is another outstanding author. His Runelord books are one of my favorite epic fantasy series of all time. His blog is mostly fan service but he offers a great semi-daily email with writing and marketing tips for new writers call the Kick in the Pants. Check it out!
Diabolical Plots is a great website by an aspirant writer who is just started to poke his head through the professionally published ceiling. David Steffen has writing advice and tips as well as movie reviews and interviews of major players in the genre fiction industry.
Brad R. Torgersen is another aspirant who I believe is on the verge of making the jump to pro writer. His blog details his journey, successes and failures, as he strives to make that elusive first sale.
Ask any long time pro and they will tell you that writing the stories is only half the fight to becoming a great writer. Some might say it isn’t even half. You also must know how to get your stories/novels in front of the right person so it can be purchased. There are a few online tools that are extremely valuable for any writer who is about to send out their manuscript.
Ralan.com is another useful site for finding markets. There is a lot of additional content here as well that might be useful as you begin to learn your craft. Careful though, it’s easy to get lost in this one.
For many of us there simply isn’t a good local writers group to find peers who can help you on your way. Starting a writers group can be a tough task and will likely only serve to suck even more life from your personal writing time. Not to mention the fact that these small groups are often looked down upon by pros as more of a hindrance than a springboard to success. So we turn online to large writers groups that hopefully don’t suffer from too much drama.
Hatrack River Writers Workshop was started by Orson Scott Card but he is not directly affiliated with the group. You will never see him on the board, at least I haven’t. Instead it is run by the mysterious Shy who must be obeyed. Some know her has Kathleen Dalton Woodbury. This is a great bunch of aspiring writers who will welcome you with open arms. Participation isn’t directly monitored so you can come and go as you please. But like anything worth doing, you will only get out what you put in.
Whoever started Online Writers Workshop must not have had much imagination left the day they came up with the name for this website but what they did have was the forethought to put together a good set of rules to make an online writers workshop hum. OWW is a great workshop for new writers. There are strict participation requirements but they should be easy to manage for any serious writer.
Critters Workshop is an entirely automated writer’s workshop. Every week the system mails out a new set of stories to all of the members and they are then critiqued and posted to the site. Like OWW there are participation requirements but also like OWW they should be no problem for anyone who is truly interested in improving their prose.
There is no doubt hundreds of good writing websites out there and I’m sure I have left out several of the best. Please feel free to add your suggestions via the comments.