Becoming a writer is a dream that many of us share. I’ve always loved writing and only recently realized that I became a writer by the simple act of writing. No one bestows this title on you. To acquire the title of “writer” all you need to do is write! And the good news is no one can take it away from you. This article will give you all the resources you’ll need to become a writer, outlining the various ways you can express yourself, with helpful resources for digging in. This guide is intended for writers at every stage: dreamer, newbie, explorer, and old-hat.
Let’s start with the easiest form of writing, journaling. At it’s most basic, grab any notebook and start with these words “Dear Diary…” If you want to get fancy you can buy yourself a nice leather bound Moleskine notebook and maybe a nice pen which you use for the ritual of writing. The only thing that matters is that you follow your inspiration. What should you write about? Your dreams, your problems, other people’s problems, solutions, anything. It’s a great tool for understanding yourself so that you can grow and improve your life. And it’s really fun to go back in time and read what you wrote last year…or even 5,10 years ago!
When you’re ready to share your writing with the world the easiest way to do this is with blogging. Blog is short for “Weblog.” It is a place where you can post material to the internet which is stamped with the date and with whatever labels or categories you’d like. You can have a blog that is a diary or it can be used to entertain people, teach, create controversy, or promote your beliefs be they political, spiritual, philosophical or otherwise. If you want to make money from your blog you can add advertising to your blog, such as with Adsense (see link in right sidebar.) Here are some resources for getting started with blogging:
- Blogger – this is the easiest one to start with. It’s free and very advertising friendly. Owned by Google. You can have a blog created in about 10 minutes or less. If you are planning to build a “professional” blog over time, you may want to give yourself more flexibility with WordPress unhosted.
- WordPress hosted – this one is free but is not easy to use with advertising.
- WordPress unhosted – this is the platform I use. It is more complex, but you have more flexibility with layout, design, and functionality. The platform itself is free, but you’ll need to pay for a hosted server such as AnHosting, which is what I use.
- Typepad – this is the 3rd most popular blogging platform after WordPress and Blogger. There is a 14 day trial period. After that prices start at $4.95 per month. Has a nice professional look and feel.
- Squarespace – If you don’t want to bother with coding but want a professional look and feel, squarespace has some very high-design templates. 30 Day free trial. Prices start at $7 per month.
3) Magazine Writing
Want to see your name and writing published? Magazine writing may be for you. There are two ways to approach this. 1) Write your articles first and then pitch them to magazine editors. 2) Write your pitch query letter to magazine editors and only write the article when you are contracted to do so. Each method has pros and cons. This is a great work from home business. However, to make a real living from it you must be organized, disciplined, and persistent. There is a lot that goes into this process so I will refer you to a couple good references:
Writer’s Digest Handbook Of Magazine Article Writing is a 5-Star rated (Amazon) book that teaches you how to brainstorm ideas, write articles, craft query letters, and maintain good relationships with editors for repeat contracts.
4) Online Article Writing for Cash
If you don’t want to set up a blog or do magazine writing, but you still want to get paid, online article writing is an quick way to get paid for your writing. The pay is low, but the articles that are needed are generally short, so if you can write fast you can make some side income. Payment depends on the the demand for the content. Payment can run anywhere from $3-20 per article. Many bloggers do this to supplement their income and to build name recognition. It’s also good writing practice. Here are the two largest and most often recommended, although, there are others:
5) Writing a Book
Who hasn’t dreamed of writing a book? Well, you can do it! Check out my Ultimate Guide to Writing a Book in Less than 60 Days right here on this blog. This guide has many free writing resources as well as book recommendations and writing program recommendations.
If you want to join a community of writers check out NaNoWriMo in the fall when they sponsor a free online community project where everyone attempts to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November!
Want to publish a book that you’ve already written? The Well-Fed Publisher is the ultimate resource on publishing your non-fiction or fiction book!
6) Short Story Writing
This is a great warm up for writing a novel. It’s less of a commitment and it can always turn into a longer story later on. Contests are a great way to get you humming along on a story right away. Here are some contest resources that I can recommend:
Writers Digest Writing Contests cash prizes. Many different categories. Legitimate sponsor you can trust.
If you are looking for some creative writing prompts here are 3 books I like a lot:
- The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction
- The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing
- Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing
7) Flash Fiction: Ultra Short Micro Stories
This is a newly popular genre of writing where the whole story is generally between 250-1000 words. It is also known as sudden fiction, microfiction, micro-story, postcard fiction, and short short story. This is really fun to play around with and it is an excellent way for novel and short story writers to develop the discipline to eliminate extraneous words from your writing.
- Whim’s Place Flash Fiction Contest– quarterly contest. $5 entry fee. Cash prizes $50-$250. Guest Judge Deborah Ng is a blogger for Darren Rowse’s b5Media blog “Simply Thrifty.”
Stories to read online:
- Fish Publishing – an online sampling of flash fiction that takes, well, only a flash to read!
8 ) Freelance Corporate Writing
If you are a good writer and know something about sales, then you can make a very good living writing business content for corporations, small businesses, and non-profits. This is a huge topic that I will write about more in the future. For now, let me refer you to the ultimate resource book this topic: The Well Fed Writer:Back for Seconds by Peter Bowerman. If you want to start this lucrative home-based business, this is really the only book you will need! It is the book I used as a guide when I launched my freelance writing business. (Tip: You only need the updated “Back for Seconds” version of this book which has a summary of the first book in it.)
If you do go this route, Freelance Success is an excellent professional online group where you can ask questions from people in the business. It does cost $89 for a year subscription, but it is well worth it, especially if you are just starting out. You can “listen in” on the forum discussions by email subscribing to them. It’s a tax deductible business expense. I personally found it to be worthwhile. As a writer you can post your profile for free and companies that have work for freelance writers can see your profile there.
9) Technical Writing
This is the business of writing manuals and technical instruction information for companies, usually technology and manufacturing companies. It can help if you have an engineering degree or experience, but it’s not a requirement. Just like Corporate Writing, technical writing can be lucrative. Here are a couple of highly recommended books to check out:
- Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Documentation
- The Well Fed Writer:Back for Seconds by Peter Bowerman also covers technical writing.
10) Grant Writing
A grant is money that is given to non-profit organizations such as universities for a project such as studying or researching a particular topic. In order to be awarded the funds, a request for proposal is written by the applicant stating why the organization deserves to win or receive the grant. Grant writers write these proposals for the non-profit organizations. Sometimes these writers are employed in-house and other times they are contracted as freelance grant writers. Grant writers are in high demand, so this is a good work-at-home writing business if you are interested in this kind of writing. Here are a couple of highly rated books on grant writing:
- The Only Grant-Writing Book You’ll Ever Need: Top Grant Writers and Grant Givers Share Their Secrets
- Grant Writing For Dummies
- Writers.com offers online classes, tips, newsletter, and other services.
- Writing.com offers groups, forums, reviews, polls, blogs and much more.
- WritersRow freelance writing jobs and more.
- Writer’s Market – This is a big book that is very handy to writers who are doing magazine writing and/or writing a book. From the Amazon review: ” The 2008 Writer’s Market features all the great information writers have to come to expect for more than 80 years and then some. This edition takes Writer’s Market to a new level of excellence with high profile author interviews and five new market sections. Of course, it’s still packed with all the information writers rely on year after year including the keys to successful query letters, advice on how much to charge, articles from successful writers, as well as listings for book publishers, magazines, lierary agents and more! Features more than 3,500 completely updated listings. Includes five new sections (Newspapers, Syndicates, Screenwriting, Playwriting, Greeting Cards). Features exclusive articles and interviews with successful writers.”
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