Writing Tools

 

With almost seventy percent of Americans wanting to write, one would think there would be far more tools out there. It has taken some time for me to find them.  Let me save you some time and effort.

My first breakthrough in my quest to find economical sources for critiques and editing was Critique Circle.  My second breakthrough I found in their forum, ProWritingAid.  Here’s why you should use both of them:

  • You get both sides of the coin as a writer
  • You save a ton of money on editing

When you write, you may experience a cycle of content and discontent.  In other words, there may be times when you hate your work or get sick of it.  Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing, I love having written.”  It’s easy for a published author of several novels to say it’s a wonderful career.  He or she has completed their work and it was accepted.

But, when you’re in the middle of a novel and you’re running out of steam, you may need a break.  That’s when I head on over to Critique Circle and start reading someone else’s work.  It’s FREE but you can upgrade for more benefits.  The most that would cost is $10 for one month or less than $4 a month if you pay for the year.  Well worth it if you have an entire novel written.

Here are a few of the benefits I’ve experienced:

  • I discovered I know stuff (grammar, spelling, punctuation)
  • It felt really good to help someone else do what I want to do
  • By critiquing as a reader, I learned more as a writer
  • I realized, as a writer, I’m not alone
  • The buddy system is almost like being in college
  • The two to one ratio of critique/getting critiqued kept me writing
  • I was compelled to be courageous and let someone else see my work
  • I found critiques from strangers far more honest than friends and family
  • I’ve saved time, money, and potential embarrassment

At Critique Circle (CC), they call critiquing “critting” — which would make us “critters,” I guess.  Here’s a video on how it works.

Before you post your blog, assignment, short story, poem, or chapter, head over to ProWritingAid.  “Critters” only have a certain amount of time and patience.  If the work is riddled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, the critiquer has little time to critique the story.  It’s a waste of the writer’s and reader’s time.  At ProWritingAid, you can copy-paste your work into their writing tool and fix the English.

They also have a plagiarism tool and a lot of other goodies but it’s only free for the first 500 words.  Premium is $40 for the year (or less if you buy two years and so on–pro-rated).  Consider the cost of editing (average of $35/hour) and you’ll see it’s worth it.

If you know about other economical tools and groups that have helped you as a writer, please share the information in the comments below.  You can also let me know what information you’d like to see in the next blog.

See you at Critique Circle.

The Writing Journey Begins

I would love to tell you that writing is fun, easy, rewarding, and everything you dreamed it would be.  For your sake, I won’t do that. It can be. But, you have to get through the rough patches as well.

When I decided I would write, the first thing I did was to change my identity.  No, I didn’t get an alias and forge a social security number.  I changed my “online presence.”

“How?” you might ask.

I took a picture that did not represent my family, my pets, my passion.  It was simply me, maybe a picture I wouldn’t mind seeing on a dust cover of a novel I’d written.  I found some wallpaper with quotes from famous authors.  Then I set to the task of changing the way I looked on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and my personal blog.

I did this for many reasons but the main ones are based on these facts:

  • Before you can do something, you have to be something
  • Before you can have something, you have to do something

So how do you BE a writer?

The best way to BE a writer is to say that’s what you are and write something.  It really is that simple.  You don’t have to be a great writer, a famous writer, or a rich writer.  Just BE a writer.  Probably the worst thing you can call yourself is an “aspiring writer” or say “I want to be a writer.”  You simply decide you ARE a writer and start writing.

Think about it.  How did you get to be anything professionally or otherwise?  Somebody handed you a piece of paper or said you were hired and there you were, telling people, “I’m a _____.”  Their next question isn’t usually, “Oh yeah?  Are you a good _____?”  They might if they happen to be your wise guy friend who can’t seem to take anything seriously.

The great thing about being a writer (author, copywriter, journalist, blogger, poet, etc.) is that you’re self-employed.  So HIRE YOURSELF.  Go ahead, look in the mirror and say, “You’re hired!  You’re a writer.”  That’s all there is to that.  Actually, you should probably do that several times until you believe it.

Next step is to DO writing.  This implies that you are going to write something that you exchange with someone else.  You exchange writing by publishing and that can be as simple as putting it online.  If you write for your own pleasure, you’re not really DOING writing.  If you write things that no one else sees, what you’re actually doing is PRACTICING.  Well, that’s okay but it also means you are not yet DOING writing.

So write an article, a song, a blog post, something, make it as error free as possible, and post it.  Now you’re a writer.  You have authored something and published it.

If you want to HAVE written, have the life and rewards of a writer, then you must DO the writing.  If you want to BE a writer, then you have to DO writing.

Some people say they are some title but they never do that job — so it’s a lie.

I heard a story once about a firefighter who would show up at the scene of a fire and start taking pictures.  He loved photography and it only took a minute or two to snap a picture so he didn’t see anything wrong with it.  Do you?

Imagine you own the house and the belongings that are burning.  You see the fire truck pull up and several of them jump off and quickly hook up the hoses and grab the fire extinguishers.  But this one guy, he takes some pictures first.  I think you would agree, he is not DOING firefighting and to that degree he is not BEING a firefighter.

So the point is, if you want to be a writer, BE one and DO writing.  Tell people you are a writer.  Their next question will usually be, “What do you write?”

Why?

Because what I’ve just told you are the natural parts of anything you want to be.  You are something, you do what that something does, then you have what that something would have.

Once you get started that way, the next step is to associate with like-minded people.  But that’s another article.

Hope this helps…here’s some more advice from one of my favorite authors, Stephen King.