I don’t have a lot of money. I mean I really don’t have a lot of money. I spend a lot of time wrestling with plot points in my head, just so I don’t go crazy wondering how the bills are going to get paid. Luckily with writing, you can get started with pen and paper, a cheap initial investment on your brilliant writing career. It’s the foundation–just you and your thoughts.
However, if you want to succeed at this writing thing, you’ll need a few other things: a computer and internet connection, a printer, expensive printer ink, and reams of paper (if you’re like me and prefer to revise many drafts on hard copy), to name a few basics.
And of course, since we constantly strive to improve our writing and increase our chances of getting published, there’s the cost of writing courses, whether it’s traditional college courses or web courses.
I’m not a raw beginner, but I still feel I have a lot to learn, and would love to avail myself of these educational avenues. But most of the time, the price tag prevents me from doing so. That said, there are still many affordable or even free resources out there to help a writer improve their craft, learn the business, and get their work out there.
- Creative Writing Now (www.creative-writing-now.com). If you’re a new (or even intermediate) writer and need a little guidance, this is a great website to start with. It covers fiction, memoir, and poetry, and gives tips on keeping a journal or writer’s notebook. Fiction writers can print out a list of dozens of story starters and writing prompts; and it offers several free at-your-own writing courses (in email format) on character, plot, dialogue, and more. Sign up for email announcements on new courses, story prompts, and writing inspiration.
- On the Premises (www.onthepremises.com). This is a great site to enter free writing contests. In December and June they offer short story contests (1,000 to 5,000 words, $220 first prize), and every April, May, October and November they offer “mini” contests that call for very short stories (25-100 words, $25 first prize). Both types of contests require you to write on a particular prompt or theme. If your story doesn’t win, they offer critiques that tell you why (free if your story made it to the final round, $15 for all others).
- Fictuary (www.fictuary.com). This is another free short story contest that’s offered monthly. If your story wins, you get $50 and publication on the site. All fiction genres accepted, as long as it’s within the 1,000 to 4,000 word limit. Stories are available on their Feed Me Fiction magazine for Android and iOS.
- Don’t forget blogging. Basic sites on Blogger and Wordpress are free. I really liked Blogger at first, but had some technical difficulties with Pages. Once I got the hang of WordPress, I liked it better. After dragging my feet about blogging for a long time, I’m a little addicted now. I can’t wait to put the next piece together. And although-alas-not many people read these words of mine, I plan to continue nonetheless. Why? For one, it develops a writing habit. Also, I’m building a solid platform, bit by bit (just in case some one does become interested). And frankly, it’s fun. I wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t fun. I save the angst for my fiction.
So, with a computer, an internet connection, and our imagination, we’re in business. How lucky are we writers to live in this digital age?
What about you? Do you have any favorite writing sites that offer free resources? Any money-saving tips for us starving artists? Leave a comment, and we’ll talk about it!