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If you’ve written even the first paragraph of a book, you know that writing to be published is different from other forms of writing. Quite often your writing addresses a single individual or a small group, and the format can be informal. However, when writing to publish to a larger audience, your writing takes on new criteria and carries certain rules. Observing these rules – or sometimes breaking them – is what leads to your personal writing style.
On the other hand, you could realistically be concerned with whether or not your writing is appropriate for your audience. You don’t want to invest time in a writing project only to find out that your skills are outdated. Or even worse, to find out no one wants to read what you’ve written.
For a self-check, you may want to try one or a combination of the following resources:
Online Forums – Have you participated in an online forum? They’re everywhere. Simply do a search using a number of different search titles. Then follow the sign-up criteria and began to dialogue.
You’ll find hundreds of questions and answers to the very issues that concern you. And you can find juicy research data just waiting to be harvested. Be sure to add to the conversation with some references or other information you’d like to share.
Consider these online writer’s forums:
- The Writer’s Cafe (http://www.writerscafe.org)
- Critique Circle Online Writing Workshop (http://www.critiquecircle.com)
- Legend Fire (www.legendfire.com)
Writer’s Groups – There are a number of ways you can test your skills prior to publishing your book. You can begin by joining local writing groups where you write and critique each other’s content.
Online writers’ groups abound. Some advertise on your social media sites or you can search online. A writers’ group can be a great encouragement and offer suggestions to better your work. This tactic has given birth to any number of writers who previously felt their work was sub-par.
Check your local paper or the internet for online groups in your area. Also, visit www.meetup.com to see if any groups are started near you. Use a variety of search titles such as “writer’s groups” or “first-time authors” or “online writing group.” You’ll better your chances if you vary the search topics. If you can’t find a group, you may consider starting one yourself.
If these first two tactics are outside your reach (local writers’ group or an online group), contact friends you know and ask for assistance. Make it known that you are a first-time author looking for others to collaborate with. Someone’s bound to know of a connection.
Consider these online writer’s groups:
- Scribophile (www.scribophile.com)
- Writer’s Cafe (http://www.writerscafe.org/groups)
- WriteWords (http://www.writewords.org.uk/groups)
- Unlimited Facebook groups (do a search for “Authors” or “Writers”)
Writing Courses – Have your grammar muscles atrophied? Perhaps you can’t remember how adverbs work. It’s not a problem. Find a course you can commit to and update your skills. You’ll have a broad selection to choose from, either locally or online. A community college may offer the course you’re looking for, or a local writer’s group may offer workshops or courses. Sometimes you can find a refresher course at a local writer’s event.
Be sure the course you take will upgrade your skills. Don’t take a fiction course focused on character building if you’re a non-fiction writer. You’ll waste your time and money. Instead, look for a course to strengthen your writing weaknesses. Here are a few courses I’ve discovered which may be of interest to you (current as of this printing):
- 10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses
- 10 Amazing Free Online Writing Courses
- 19 Free Online Courses to Improve Your Writing Skills
- 25 Helpful Resources to Improve Your Writing Skills
Make use of the appropriate resource that meets your need. Remember to check your local colleges and universities and local writers’ groups for workshops and courses that may be available. Polishing up your writing skills could upgrade your bottom line.
This content is an excerpt from my first book in the Book-Possible series, “Publish Your First Book Now!” available on Amazon.com.
Stuck in a writing rut? Try these easy exercises to Jumpstart Your Lethargic Juices. And there’s more to come later this month.
Exercise #1 – Just Book It!
Start an “inspiration” notebook. Purchase a bound notebook that’s small enough to carry with you. If necessary, store it in your car. It’s perfect for those occasions when a thought crosses your mind that you don’t want to forget. You can also make use of the “Notes” feature on a smart phone to track your ideas.
Exercise #2 – Talk About It
Here’s a quick fix for getting unstuck. Take out a sheet of paper and write out the topic of your project. Use a tape recorder or use your cell phone’s recording app to talk about the topic. Transcribe your recording and add it to your text.
My favorite use of these exercises is to print them out on card stock and placed one on the cork board near my desk when needed. It’s an easy boost when my hands work better than my brain. Feel free to use them in any manner that works for you.
Make use of these tips to keep your writing flowing. It’s normal to get stuck sometimes; it’s not normal to stay that way.
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You’ll find these and other tips in First Steps and Quick Tips, a part of the Ready to Write Template available on our website.