Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to Continue to Improve Your Writing After College

How to Continue to Improve Your Writing After College: Utilizing Online Tools that Help You Write Better
I graduated…
           After you walked out of college with your English or writing degree, did it cross your mind that all the great advice, the helpful commenting at workshops, and critically-important proofreading skills would just vanish? Who would replace all your eager creative writing companions? Who would be the seasoned, smart, and savvy professor-like role model that would push you to become a better writer? When you graduate as a writer, it’s important to fill the gaps of the strong writing community you’re leaving behind. Writing every day can help, but there’s a lot more to learn about writing, editing, and publishing.
Now what?
           I’ve known many writers who regularly attend community workshops, conferences, and publishing events. They meet other writers, form editing and workshop groups, and create contacts that can help them either get better or get published. Aside networking, however, there are many other ways to improve as a writer. It may be financially difficult for recent college graduates to afford conferences and workshop communities. For a writer hoping to break out of their 40-hour-per-week job and into full-time writing, it may be problematic to ask for time off. So, where or to whom can a writer turn for help?
The Tools:
           As publishing and writing have moved to many online platforms, so have the tools and communities. There are millions of websites devoted to writing, writing better, writing faster, self-publishing, writing communities, and editing. There is even online proofreading. With all the choices, though, which are the diamonds in the sea of cubic zirconia?
  • Ginger: Ginger is an online proofreader that includes a grammar checker, text reader, sentence rephraser, and personal trainer. It covers every facet of the technical side of writing. To help a writer improve, the personal trainer catches mistakes, teaches the writer how to fix them, and pushes the writer to improve his or her technique.  A writer who wants to quickly proofread an article can use the grammar checker to identify mistakes and the sentence rephraser to build a better, more eye-catching. Ginger is a great online proofreader that gives the sentence-structure help of an editor.
  • Grammarly: Grammarly is an innovative combination of all things writing. It provides an online proofreader, grammar checker, context-optimized synonym generator, question-and-answer boards, online community, and style improvers. It catches errors that Microsoft Word misses and it adapts to your style to better help you spice up your writing. Grammarly’s teaching section can bring you back to some basics you forgot, or teach you how to correct complicated grammatical mistakes. It can proofread quickly or provide you with a platform for writing help from other writers. An expansive tool like Grammarly makes up for the lack of a keen professor’s eye.
  • Writer’s Café: Writer’s Café is a free online writing community where writers can post their work for review, get advice from thousands of users, enter free writing contests, or search for publishers, agents, or magazines. It provides a huge database for writers to gain experience editing others' work while concurrently having their work reviewed. Additionally, Writer’s Café offers writing courses that can help you continue to learn about writing without paying the costly fees of conferences. Anything you had in college, you can find through Writer’s Café for free.
  • Poets and Writers: The Poets and Writers website is a humongous wealth of information for any writer. It provides agents, magazines, and publishers with tools, a published magazine, MFA program information, and heaps more. If there were a list of all its features, it would take hours to read. As the nation’s largest nonprofit organization for creative writers, Poets and Writers connects writers with everything they need to succeed. I love reading the magazine and always leave inspired to keep writing and learning about writing. One of the best results a resource can give a writer is inspiration to keep going. Poets and Writers answers any question a writer may have, in addition to its immense community of writers.
Keep Writing, You Will Get There:
          Without the support of a community of writers like you had in college, it can be immeasurably difficult to write on your own. Joining an online writing community, utilizing an online proofreader, or reading a daily writing-inspired email blast can help you continue to feel connected to the writing atmosphere. College may be over, but the learning is just beginning to bloom. Take advantage of all the online tools that can help you write better, associate with other writers, and keep you motivated; no doubt you’ll succeed.

Q 4 Our Readers: Which online writers tools do you use?

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