12 Writing Websites That Can Help You Improve Your Craft
As the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect,” but perfection as a goal can bring about a writer’s downfall. While, as a writer, you should always work to improve your craft, striving for perfection can quickly cause undue stress and anxiety from feelings of inadequacy. Not to mention, equating mastery of skill with perfection often results in stagnancy. This is why so many successful writers caution against perfection and think of their skills as ever-evolving. Fortunately, it’s a good time to be a writer because there are an array of easy-to-use resources just a few clicks away. Here are 12 writing websites that can help you improve your craft without even leaving the comfort of your home.
Every writer should carry an arsenal of words and know how to use them. Vocabulary.com makes expanding your word cache fun and effortless. You create an account and make or search for a list of words to learn. Then, you can play word games based on the list while tracking your learning and unlocking achievements. Educators can purchase a special package for use in the classroom, but otherwise, it’s entirely free.
Lousywriter wants to help you become better at writing and improve your craft — whether you are a professional writer or not — by providing a multitude of free resources, including ebooks and visual charts. Along the sidebar menu, you will find pages with explanations of parts of speech and easy-to-follow instructions on how to properly punctuate sentences. Although this website holds some of the same information you will find on other writing websites on this list; the cheat sheets are the real goldmine. With one of those pages open next to your word processor, you will never have an excuse to mess up possessive nouns or troublesome verbs again.
HemingwayApp performs a style check by highlighting complicated and dense sentences, passive voice, and abuse of adverbs. It is both free and easy to use. You simply write or paste text into the application, and instantly you will see highlighted results of problematic issues. Hemingway — the app, not the author, of course — will also grade your text for readability and assign a reading level to help you figure out if you are hitting the target of your ideal demographic. While it is never a good idea to depend on an online editor to catch all of your writing mistakes, HemingwayApp does work nicely as a final review to really help your writing shine.
Scribophile is an online writing workshop and community of writers dedicated to facilitating the exchange of quality feedback between writers. It functions on a “karma” system, so, you earn points by critiquing the work of others and spend points to post your work to be critiqued or to enter contests. It is free to join, but you can upgrade to a paid account for enhanced features. Scribophile also offers free resources on writing, readings, and blog articles, and a forum for writers to network.
Chief editor and founder of the website, Mary Joksch, believes not just in practicing writing, but positive practice. On her website, you can find blog articles on writing fiction and nonfiction, finding motivation, tips and tricks, and how to promote your work or writing business. Not only can you find resources on how to maximize your creativity, but how to effectively monetize your craft. While her resources are free, you can also hire Mary for mentoring if you are so inclined.
Writer K.M. Weiland is an award-winning author of fiction and writing guides, and her website focuses on helping writers structure their work and develop plots. The website has free step-by-step guides to outlining novels and creating dynamic characters. You can purchase her books or listen to her podcasts, but one of the best resources on her page is the Story Structure Database, where a user can select a popular story and see a breakdown of the structural components of its plot.
Since 2005, Creativity-Portal has been on the Writer’s Digest Magazine’s list of “101 Best Websites.” It’s not just for writers, but it does have a collection of fun writing prompts. It also has blog articles on various writing-related topics. Using this site can help you fight through writer’s block and get you writing even when you don’t want to.
Submission fees can be painful for a new writer who has few pennies to spare, especially without the guarantee of publication. So, if you are looking for places to submit your writing to, Comps and Calls features a compiled database of all of the competitions and calls for submissions that do not require a submission fee. Having your work published is the best way to build confidence and get exposure for your work, and not having to pay the fees makes the effort less bothersome.
Okay, so not so much about how to improve your craft, but Writing-World is still entirely helpful if you are writing for money. Writing-World is dedicated to helping writers learn about the business side of professional writing with targeted content for those who don’t just consider writing a hobby but also a lucrative skill. Article topics range from how to perform market research, how to write and submit queries and manuscripts, the ins and outs of copyright, setting rates, and how to publish. Writing-World helps you develop writing expertise in tandem with business skills.
Technically, the last three websites on this list are not writing websites, per se, but they are excellent websites for writers to use to improve their craft.
Trello is the ideal website for helping you to organize and manage your writing goals. One of the keys to being a good writer is staying organized, and with this website — already popular among freelance writers — that shouldn’t be a problem. You can color code and sort tasks as necessary, set due date notifications for yourself, share tasks, and make teams with other users. You can also connect it to your google drive for streamlining purposes, but you have to pay for further upgrades. Otherwise, it is free to use.
Writers need a space to freely brainstorm and track ideas, and Wridea — a no-hassle brainstorming system — makes that possible. The website is a simple and easy to use system that organizes ideas and shares them with friends for feedback (because writers need feedback at all stages of the process). It is free (for now, as the welcoming blurb states), so try it while you can and see how it works for you. The best feature is a one-of-a-kind rain visualization that drops your ideas in random order to maybe inspire the plot of your next writing project.
Not all courses on edX are free, but with this website, you can enroll in free online writing courses offered by different universities from around the world with the option to upgrade for a certificate of completion for $50. Right now, for example, Berkeley is offering a five-week course on “How to Write an Essay” for free. Even if you think you know how to write an essay, there is always something new to learn.
When you are a writer trying to improve your craft, the learning never really ends — even if the formal education does. However, with these 12 writing websites, you can improve your craft without even leaving the comfort of your home.
If the idea of continual learning is overwhelming to you, make a list (try Trello!) and organize it by time for completion, and complete tasks based on the amount of spare time you have here and there. For example, a task could be reading an article on writing, organized with a fifteen-minute time frame. When you find a spare fifteen minutes, complete that task. Approaching your skill in this way will boost your productivity and rather than practice making perfect, you will be practicing perfectly indefinitely.
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