Regardless of one’s age and degree, there is one thing that is not commonly known: most of us are writers. Whether the method of communication is through email, text, snail mail, or simply coming up with a caption on Instagram, countless people are using their knowledge and imagination to form the perfect sentence, even if they don’t technically consider themselves “writers.”
Putting your thoughts down onto the page can be tricky, especially if you don’t have the resources to ensure your work will be the best it possibly can be. Once you define yourself as a writer and become more comfortable with your writing, you’ll truly be able to hone in on your skill. Writing works a muscle that needs to be exercised, after all. Whether you’re a creative writer, a technical writer, or someone wanting to have more expansive language in their emails, here are some resources that can help:
1 Pick up a copy of The Elements of Style
This is my favorite version of the classic writing book, and many others clearly love it—it’s the only writing manual to appear on bestseller lists. With advice from experts William Strunk and E.B. White and accompanied by fifty-seven colorful illustrations from Maira Kalman, this book will guide you through the basic grammar guidelines and then demonstrate form and style. It’s also portable and accessible, so don’t be intimidated. This book is for everyone, not just writers!
2 Join an online writing course
There are countless online writing courses out there, all varying in cost and level of commitment required. One of the most notable ones (recommended by author Margaret Atwood) is storyisastateofmind.com, where creator Sarah Selecky offers everything from daily prompts to practice sessions to one-on-one consultations. If you want to test her services before you commit or are on a tight budget, Sarah has a list of free resources for her students which includes a video class, writing guides, and her own interviews with authors.
You can supplement your learning with Grammarly. Grammarly doesn’t just correct your text, it tells you why it’s making the edits. Use the Grammarly Editor to easily see detailed recommendations.
Watch how one small change transforms this sentence from dull to engaging! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/a6F5dkmiHI
— Grammarly (@Grammarly) August 13, 2019
3 Organize your work with apps
Whether you’re writing a novel or simply need a single place to put your thoughts down, apps like Evernote and Scrivener are both user-friendly and provide you with tools so that you aren’t just working with a blank page. While these can be interchangeable, Evernote is more of a note-taking guide, and it can be as collaborative as you’d like it to be, with the ability to share your notes with others. Scrivener, on the other hand, is more commonly used for creative writing. It provides built-in formats so you can plan out your plot, character, theme, and so much more.
4 Look into writers’ organizations
If you’re overwhelmed by the writing organizations out there, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs is a step in the right direction. Their mission is “to foster literary achievement, to advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and to serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing.” The AWWP offers courses, job postings, and career advice, and they even host conferences, retreats, festivals, and residencies.
The steps to becoming a better writer may look intimidating, but there are countless resources for both experienced and inexperienced writers. I can guarantee that any and all of these steps will help you as you move forward in your writing career.
Get those pens moving and fingers typing; communication is key, and if you can communicate better in your emails, stories, or even texts, you’ll be able to cultivate your style and hone in on what you actually want to say. Maybe you’ll even start calling yourself a writer.