6 Super Resources for Writers

treasure octopus

It’s a veritable treasure chest of resources!

The Internet is an absolute boon for writers. It connects us to all manner of resources, communities, and learning opportunities. It throws wide the doors to a digital world where we can communicate, collaborate, and commiserate with other writers from all across the globe. It connects us to editors and other potential employers.  For many of us, this wonderland of pixels and platforms is what affords us the chance to make a living (and a life) with words.

I spend more than my fair share of time cruising these virtual streets – peeking in windows, dropping in on conversations, and devouring all the juicy bits of wisdom and wit from writers who have traveled farther ahead on this road than I have. Today, I’d like to share some of my recent finds from the road, so to speak: two podcasts, two online classrooms, and two writer communities. I hope you enjoy them!

Best,

Jamie

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PODCASTS:

I have already gushed over the wonderful new podcast from Brad Reed called Inside Creative Writing. But, Brad is only able to produce one show per week (he is only human), and some weeks (oh, the horror!) he has to take a week off. What’s a writer to do?!? No worries. She can check out one of these two podcasts – each unique and informative in its own way:

Writing Excuses

I loved this snappy, little podcast right from the start. Their tagline won me over: “15 minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” This is a dynamic show with four hosts: Mary, Brandon, Howard, and Dan. Each episode features these four writers bantering about the topic at hand in an off-the-cuff manner that is very engaging. Though there’s plenty of good-natured ribbing to go ’round, the show still manages to impart some great information. So – if you just need a quick fix, Writing Excuses might be just the thing to hold you over.

Author Edit: Please note that Writing Excuses focuses on genre writing, specifically SciFi and Fantasy in all its fabulous forms and formats. That said, the topics they talk about have application well beyond these genres. 

Writers on Writing with Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth, Writers on Writing might suite your mood. The format for this blog is a more traditional interview style show. Each week, the host welcomes a different writer into the studio for an extended chat that might cover a range of topics including craft, the writer’s life, publishing, etc. The show features a wide variety of authors and poets, attracting names as well known as Anna Quindlen and Margaret Atwood. This is the podcast to choose if you want to curl up with a cup of tea and feel like you’re having a tete-a-tete with a writer you admire.

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ONLINE CLASSES

Though I love to take Real World writing classes, life is not always accommodating. Luckily, the Internet brings us a bevy of online courses that allow us to study our craft from the comfort of our own homes (and, even in our PJs). There are countless digital destinations for all kinds of writing classes, but here are two that I think deserve a second look.

Grub Street Writers

Grub Street is a vibrant and growing writers’ community and resource. In fact, it is the second largest independent center for creative writing in the United States. Not bad for an organization with such humble beginnings. I have taken a Real World class at the Grub Street location in Boston (and loved it!), but I’m also very excited that they have just begun to offer online courses as well. Grub Street offers classes in all genres and for all levels of writer. They even offer courses on how to be more productive! This is a quality organization that offers top notch teaching on all aspects of writing. Highly recommended.

Creative Nonfiction 

Unlike Grub Street, I do not (yet) have any personal experience with the courses at CreativeNonfiction.org, but I have been impressed by their content and have heard good things from fellow writers. Creative nonfiction is a genre I’m interested in exploring, so discovering this little gem of a site through a writer friend was right up my alley. They also apparently publish an ink & paper print magazine that is beautiful.

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COMMUNITIES

I know not everyone is on Facebook, but it is a great place to meet and hang out with other writers. There are so many public writing groups to choose from, but here are two that I have been participating in for a while and which I think offer great value in terms of both the content shared and the conversations.

Writing & Publishing

Founded and managed by Marcia Meier (www.marciameier.com), this group offers connections and conversations with many other writers. The post topics range from craft to publishing to funny writer quotes and random bits of literary advice. The community is open and welcoming and a great place to find some inspiration or get an answer to that writing-related question that’s been burning a hole in the back of your brain.

A Writer’s Bucket List Action Team

This new and growing group is the brain child of Dana Sitar, author of the spunky (and free!) ebook, A Writer’s Bucket List. Per the page’s description, “A Writer’s Bucket List Action Team is a place where writers can gather to swap ideas, ask questions, and share inspiration for the writing life. A bucket list is no good sitting dusty on a shelf! We’re going to pull those things out and get started.” I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I’d like conversing with the members of this group, but from what I have seen, they are a lively and diverse group who are open and helpful.

What great resources have you come across in your travels through the writing highways and byways of the “Interwebz?” Anything to share? We’d love to know your great finds!  

Photo Credit: Sebastián Rubiano via Compfight cc 

Fear of flying – writer style

Today’s guest post comes from Laura Foster-Bobroff, a talented writer and generous soul who has – happily! – been visiting Live to Write – Write to Live for a while. She’s become a personal friend of mine, and we just discovered that we share a passion for “flying” – trapeze style. We had a conversation one day about the similarities between writing and flying and I suggested she write a post for the blog. I’m so pleased that she did and hope that you enjoy it. Please make her feel welcome. 

I decided to become a writer two months before my fiftieth birthday.

After forty years of “informal” practice, it was high time I committed to making my dream come true. At first, my husband thought I was a little crazy. We were closing our remodeling business and, like many Americans, struggling financially with a mortgage under water and not enough income to sustain it.  I realized waiting for the perfect time to start writing was an excuse.  Do it, I told myself, it’s now or never.

Making the decision to be a writer was the equivalent of performing on a flying trapeze. A few years ago, my daughters begged me to buy lessons for them, and promptly backed out after standing on a platform thirty feet above ground. Substitute daredevil, up the ladder I climbed, rung by rung, determined to fly with gusto. “I’m not afraid,” I told my girls, trying to set an example. “Being off the ground on a tiny platform doesn’t scare me!” Halfway up, I looked down, hesitated, and then said to myself, “You can do this. You’re tough!”

I may be tough, but once I stepped onto the platform my breathing stopped and my heart started to beat abnormally fast. Confidence wavering, I began talking myself off the platform, “This is an impulsive whim – why are you doing this? You’re too old for this kind of risk. You’re not a professional and don’t have the skills. ‘’You could fall and get hurt.” (Sound familiar?)

On the edge, faced with failure, time stands still.  Fear and tension build. 

I so badly wanted to turn around and go down the ladder! Then I heard a click as I was tethered to the safety line and it occurred to me I had support: someone who had been where I was – felt fear and doubt – and managed to get through it, someone who learned to fly and was willing to help so I could share the experience.

Climbing the ladder, creating a platform we can step onto poses the greatest challenge for some writers; for others, leaving the platform behind to fly solo is daunting.  We can find support by reading blogs, inspirational stories, or sharing work with other writers or editors. By connecting with people who offer encouragement and reassurance we have a safety line. Most writers and editors are generous. They give tips on flying; instruct us on what works best. We only have to grab the bar and commit to making the jump no matter how scared we are. Above all, we need to remember there is a net to catch us if we fall. (And, we WILL fall!)

Someday I hope to be a writer as entertaining as a great trapeze artist gracefully performing daring tricks to the amazement of the world. For now, I’m holding onto the bar for dear life. Yet, despite my awkwardness, I feel exhilarated by the thrill of learning to fly. Heck, I’m even starting to accept falling because each day I stand hovering on the edge of my platform – unsure and exposed but jumping anyway – it reminds me I’m living the life of a writer.

Where do you find resources to motivate you to climb onto the platform?

What inspires you grab ahold of the bar and FLY?

Who reminds you that you have a safety net?

Laura Foster-Bobroff has been an assistant to a criminal defense attorney, a part-time editor, a special education advocate, and the proud owner of a green remodeling business.   She has two black belts, a pre-med science degree, and three children, including a challenged child. At age fifty, she made the momentous decision to do what she always wanted to do – write!  She now produces fiction and non-fiction work and rests by dabbling in the art of fused and frit glass and other artistic mediums. She thinks getting older is fantastic (even if she doesn’t have as much energy as she used to).