Every so often I get the "Questions". You've probably gotten them too. You know, when someone asks,
"How do I get started in writing?"
"How can I get my writing published?"
So us writers, we're thinking, this isn't a question that can be answered in 5 minutes. Or even 5 hours. These are "tip of the iceberg" questions. There is no brief answer, and the response is multi-faceted. There's always something to learn, and just about the time we think we've got a grasp on things, the market changes.
And since we're busy with writing and life, we don't always have the time necessary to share all of this with the wide eyed newbie asking the question. Since I've been asked these questions many times, I decided to compile a list of 5 basic tips.
1) Take writing courses.
From webinars, workshops, and seminars, to correspondence and online classes, free and paid options abound. Just because we like to write doesn't mean we have all the necessary knowledge and skills. Good courses teach things like how and where to submit our work, how to approach an editor, and so on.
I experienced this firsthand, learning valuable skills and information from the Institute of Children's Literature courses I took years ago. They were comprehensive, lending direction and cutting the learning curve down in regard to how to write what publications want.
Here are a few recommended sites that offer great courses.
Coffeehouse for Writers
Poynter's News University
Institute for Writers
Institute of Children's Writers
2) Join a writer's group.
Groups offer fellowship, support, resources, courses, workshops, conferences, and more. Find local ones through friends and colleagues, regional papers, or an online search. Organizations such as the ones above also offer online support and/or critique groups.
Other groups include The Insecure Writer's Support Group, which addresses writers of all genres, the American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
3) Attend a writer's conference.
Conventions, conferences, and workshops are offered year round. National, state, and local groups sponsor ones of all sizes. Don't discount smaller offerings; just because the keynote speaker's name isn't a household word doesn't mean they don't have much to share.
4) Take advantage of great resources.
Books, magazines, newsletters, websites, blogs - there are great resources everywhere. A few favorites include Funds for Writers, Pen and Prosper, Writer's Digest, and Writers Weekly. These types of resources offer links, articles, forums, contests, and other great features.
5) Keep learning.
Educate yourself. It's hard work, but keep at it, learning the craft and sharpening skills. There's always something to learn. Always.
While these tips are helpful for newbies, they're also a reminder of the wonderful tools available to all writers, no matter where we are on the journey.
What do you think? Did I miss anything? What advice would you offer? What was the most helpful advice you had when starting out?
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