With it being September, and all our collective kiddos are firmly back in school, education is on my mind. Last week, my oldest headed out on his own post-secondary adventure to become an electrician, and it reinforced to me how important it is to always be stretching ourselves as writers.
Now I do know writers who feel they know enough because they have read the books, done the courses, and written the stories, but this isn’t my view. I can NEVER know enough.
Every day new authors are adding to the storytelling well. They are taking the information and theory currently out there and adding their own perspective, which creates further depth and insight. These writers then share their ideas in articles, lessons, craft books, and most importantly, through passion-filled fiction that spellbinds readers (and makes the rest of us writers wish we had their talent!)
Becca and I are always trying to bring you information to help you grow, and our mission at One Stop For Writers is literally to Elevate Your Storytelling. And if you follow me on Twitter, you know I love to curate great writing content.
So in the spirit of always educating ourselves, I thought I’d do a round up of sites I visit for great articles, and offer some other ideas to encourage self-improvement.
Terrific Writing Blogs
Now Novel: Great general writing topics, for all genres.
Anne R. Allen (with Ruth Harris) A deeper look at many aspects of writing and publishing.
Mythcreants This site tackles unique topics–a must-visit.
Helping Writers Become Authors Katie Weiland is an undisputed writing craft master.
Story Mastery Michael Hauge’s insight is unparalleled–I have learned a ton from him. Read his posts, buy his books, attend his workshops. Can’t recommend him enough.
Live, Write Thrive C.S. Lakin has a ton of knowledge, so visit and take your writing up a notch!
Writer Unboxed Great topics, from a variety of posters means many voices and options. Excellent site.
Jami Gold Jami knows her way around storytelling. Grab all her beat sheets!
September C. Fawkes September blogs deep writing craft. Visit and always learn something new.
Kristen Lamb Kristen has tons of writing knowledge and social media. A win-win site.
Better Novel Project Great breakdowns and craft advice. The cartoons are a fun bonus.
DIYMFA Another terrific site with some really rich articles on elements of storytelling.
Elizabeth S. Craig Elizabeth not only gives great craft advice–her Twitterific posts are a must-read.
Writers In The Storm This group blog mixes support, writing advice and publishing tips all rolled into one.
Top Writing Books
Here are some of the books I recommend most often (click for more info):
Writing Conferences and Festivals
Recently I’ve posted in a few places about conferences, both on how to make the most of the conference experience, and also how to grow into the role of “professional author” when it comes to interacting with readers, giving talks and workshops, and selling books. Conferences can be a terrific opportunity to learn. Here’s a link that may help you find the right conference for you (updated each year).
Online Courses, Webinars & Recordings
Online courses and webinars can be an affordable way to fill gaps in your story knowledge. I have downloaded some of the lesson packets from The Margie Lawson Academy, and taken webinars through WANA International, and found both very valuable.
A recording I highly recommend is Michael Hauge’s Hero’s 2 Journeys. You get several hours with not just one world-renowned story expert, but two: Michael Hauge and Chris Vogler. They both bring great story structure and character motivation information to the table using the famous Hero’s Journey and 6-Stage Plot Structure methodology. Worth every penny.
C. S. Lakin also teaches online writing craft courses and while I have not taken any, her writing books are excellent, and she’s our editor for the Writers Helping Writers books, so I don’t think you could go wrong checking her out.
In case it’s in your wheelhouse, how about a writing retreat? This is something I have always wanted to do, and I think most writers would as well, but costs is always a factor. Often local writing groups host these, so look around at your own community as the prices may be more affordable.
Or, create your own. I have a mini one planned in a few weeks time, and I can’t wait. (I’m sharing costs with a few local writers and we’re heading off to the mountains for the weekend. It will be great to get together, talk writing, brainstorm ideas and learn from each other!)
Invest In Powerful Tools
Software, apps, and subscriptions can really help us shorten the learning curve. Ones I heartily recommend are ProWritingAid because I think this tool can save writers a lot in editing costs and teach them how to strengthen their writing. Their plans are affordable. I would also recommend joining a writing community like The Critique Circle, which has free and paid plans. Learning from other writers and using the site to give and get feedback will really help you learn a lot. (This is where Becca and I met, BTW.)
Finally, I know it’s my site, but I have to mention One Stop for Writers. Our approach to elevated storytelling means we combine the knowledge Becca and I have with powerful tools and resources that writers just can’t get anywhere else.
We know strong storytelling, we understand what makes a unforgettable character, and at One Stop, our tools will help you write better fiction.
If you’d like to see what the site is about, activate our 2-Week Free Trial.
Don’t Forget to Write
And of course the best thing you can do is to always make time for writing. The act of creating and applying what we learn is ultimately what will help us grow into stronger storytellers. So write, write, write!
If you know of a resource, site, a book, course, or something else that might help others, please link to it in the comments!
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
James River Writers, Richmond, Virginia.
Has Writers Conference every October. With agents, editors, writers.
And many writerly opportunities each month to mingle, learn, and write with others.
Darlene Foster says
Great resources, thanks. I often attended the Surrey International Writer’s Conference and always came away with some valuable information and contacts. It was always the motivation I needed to continue. I agree with you, as a writer, you never stop learning!
The Odyssey Workshop (http://www.sff.net/odyssey/workshop.html) offers in-depth online winter classes, and a six-week residential workshop in the summer. I’ve attended both, and can honestly say the residential workshop was the best thing I could have ever done for my writing. It’s intense, but if it’s something you have the time for, really life changing. I encourage everyone to check out the website. If you can’t do six-weeks residential, try an online course. Really excellent.
Bridget-Now Novel (@nownovel) says
Have a wonderful time on the writing cruise, Angela. Thanks for mentioning Now Novel alongside such great company.
Marilynn Byerly says
I go through dozens of writing blogs a day to collect the best links to post every Wednesday. The one blog I alway include is Janice Hardy’s “Fiction University.”
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
Yes, Janice’s blog is also very good. In all honestly, this list could have been about 4 times as long! There are so many great blogs out there. 🙂
Astrid Kaniele says
I couldn’t agree more that there’s always something to learn!
When I signed up for creative writing at school, I was speaking to a girl about it who said, “oh, I looked at that but decided against it because I’m already a good writer.” It made me cringe to hear it.
Thanks for taking the time to compile so many useful resources in one post!
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
I think one big part of being a success-bound writer is getting to the point where you know enough about writing to realize just how much you don’t know…and instead of giving up or saying good enough, you embrace the process of learning. Taking another step, tackling another aspect of writing…this is what we do to grow. 🙂
Robin E. Mason says
I imagine there’s not a job or career that you never stop learning. Even waiting tables, you can learn more about your guests, regular customers or otherwise. I love learning and research—and turning what I learn into stories!! 😉
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
Me too–I am a lifelong learner. I think most writers are, but I have run across a few who believe they are “good enough,” which is fine if they are happy where they are at, but my personal goal is to make each book better than the last. 🙂
Sara L. says
Ooooh, congrats on the writing cruise, Angela! That should be so much fun! (I almost said a “boatload of fun,” but decided I didn’t want to be pun-ny. *blushes*)
And that’s a fantastic list of writing resources. I follow several of the sites, and Mythcreants in particular is a must-read for speculative fiction writers. As for craft books, one of my favorites is Cheryl St. John’s Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict. And though my opinion might be slightly biased, I love the DIY MFA Book, too. It’s a great encapsulation of all of Gabriela’s concepts for creating your own “MFA program” and making the most out of your personalized learning experiences.
Finally, I’ve been to Writer’s Digest Conference twice and can vouch for how invaluable it is for learning more about the publishing industry and the business side of being a writer / author.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
Thanks for weighing on, Sara! I think the conference one is really important. You spend a lot of money to go, and so you really need to know what you can expect before choosing. Some conferences are more for different levels of writers than others (beginners, or those who are already published, etc.), or they focus on a specific aspect of the industry more so that writing improvement. Writing craft is not always a given–sometimes it is more publishing focused, or marketing focused, etc.
the DIYMFA book is on my list! 🙂