Was your new year’s resolution to fine-tune your writing? Well, even if wasn’t, it’s always a good idea to check in and see if there are any resources that can change your writerly life (and your writing) for the better. So with that, we’ve put together our top recommendations for honing your craft and turning out your best work in 2019:
1. Invest in Scrivener and ProWritingAid. As we learned at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, if you’re writing your book in Word, you need to stop now and get your hands on Scrivener. This content-generation tool is tailor-made for writing manuscripts and allows you to outline, restructure, write synopses, incorporate background material, etc. while you write, all in the same software. But don’t take our word for it: check it out here. And, want to save some editorial dollars? More and more editors are requiring their authors to run their manuscripts through ProWritingAid before they submit them. This editing tool not only checks spelling and grammar, it also highlights style issues and compares your writing to the best writers in your genre.
2. Join a writers’ group. There are few better ways to stay inspired and motivated, as well as get constructive feedback on your work, than by convening with fellow writers. Check Facebook for local groups in your city or town; they’re usually easy to join and meet fairly regularly. And/or join a local writers’ society in your community and attend their sponsored events and workshops. Or, check out the list that CBC Books compiled of writers’ groups across Canada.
3. Stay in the online loop. The Write Life’s 100 Best Websites for Writers is an invaluable resource, year after year. Have a look at the 2019 list here, which is broken down into the following helpful categories: freelancing, inspiration, writing tools, blogging, creativity and craft, editing, podcasts, marketing and platform building, writing communities, and publishing.
4. Read more! Read more books in your genre, and just read more in general. There may be no better way to improve your writing skills (there’s even science to back that up!). And if you need that extra little push, join a book club. Book clubs are no longer necessarily the boozy, gossipy evenings of yore (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Today, you don’t even need to leave your house to join one. Facebook and Instagram proliferate with book clubs, and even celebrities are “joining the club” with their own groups, like Reese Witherspoon’s “Hello Sunshine” and Emma Watson’s “Our Shared Self.” Sounds kind of inane? Well, according to The Globe and Mail, book culture has converged “with social media and the power of celebrity influencers to become a sexier, more public-facing version of its former self.” And that can only mean one thing: more book sales – and that is always a good thing.
Finally, don’t forget to always have the essentials on hand: a dictionary and a thesaurus. And, to remind you that a) you’re not alone, and b) you’re never finished learning, pick up On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.
Whether you adopt all of these recommendations, a few, or even none, do this one thing in 2019: write what you love, and you (and your readers) are bound to be rewarded by what falls on the page.