WHAT DO WE NEED TO GET STARTED INWritten by Craig Lock
THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE Anyone with reasonable literary skills can write, but not many people can write really well. Yet we all have opportunity to use this means of expressing our creative energy. You don't need much: no money - only time and IMAGINATION. To start writing, all you need is a place, a pen, paper and an idea (which comes through amazing power of human mind). Firstly, work habits: Organise yourself (my big difficulty in all areas of life!). Decide WHERE you want to write. Which room will enable you to concentrate and lift your spirits most? I find writing outdoors enables me to be most relaxed and therefore at my most creative. THEN Allocate a few hours a day when you won't be disturbed. Then stick to it with total COMMITMENT (remember qualities of a writer from lesson one?). What other tools are there to help you? The local library, dictionaries, like a Thesaurus. What's that? And especially, a dictionary of quotations. Can you start a sentence with an "and"? All of these resources are extremely helpful to a writer. I find local library especially helpful. Get to know your way around, to find out where things are. Using this resource saves a great deal of time and frustration...and most of all, money - not having to buy books ("El cheaposkate", like me). I am constantly using facilities of excellent HB Williams Memorial Library here in Gisborne. What other resources are easily available? Dictionaries: Such as Oxford Dictionaries of Quotations. They'll always come in handy when you're looking for a good quote. Incidentally, good grammar and punctuation, together with presentation, is very important in getting published. I cover more on this subject in subsequent lessons. As my English teacher at school said, READ, READ, READ. It develops vocabulary (another nice long word). Typewriter or Word Processor? Once you've got this clear in your mind, ie. place, time, tools (like pen and paper), later comes decisions about whether to buy a typewriter, word processor or computer. Word processors and computers make life so much easier for writers: you can quickly rewrite by moving words around or simply cutting them out altogether. They even have a spell check for those not too confident in this area. All writers continually revise their work many times to make words flow better (don't say 'continually' and 'many times' - they mean same thing!). Do you need one? If you want to be published, no editor will consider handwritten work, so you will need to make that decision someday. If you want to write purely for your own pleasure, no "hassle"! My simple advice is to take your time regarding purchasing decisions. Don't rush out and buy now, but wait and see how your writing develops. Perhaps you have an old typewriter in attic to start on, or you may be able to borrow one from a friend in meantime ("cheapskate"). This advice is based on what I did. Start off with a typewriter, because all your work should be typed - unless you're writing purely for yourself. Later you can progress to a word processor, if you really get caught up in writing 'bug'. I bought my word processor just before I left work after being made redundant as a Life Assurance Manager. It was best investment I have ever made in my life! Then I progressed to learning computers. This was no easy task for me, but now working every day with one, I've become quite good (even if I say so myself!). However, I still use my word processer to work in hot sun outside. Hedonistic sun freak! What other tips are there?... * Keep a work diary of your projects underway - keeps one on track.
Four FREE Tools Help Aspiring WritersWritten by Cheryl Paquin
CleverKeys — This is a nifty little program you can download from http://www.cleverkeys.com. It integrates with most software such as browsers or word processors. When you're writing or come across an unfamiliar word, just highlight word, hit control L and CleverKeys will take you straight to dictionary meaning at dictionary.com. You can change default from dictionary.com to thesaurus.com if you're interested in looking up an alternative word while you're writing. Again, just highlight it, hit Control L and word listing in thesaurus.com pops up in your default browser.
If your computer is connected to Internet most of time, using CleverKeys instead of looking up dictionary or thesaurus, saves A LOT of time. The download is only 800 KB, and installs easily.
GrammarCheck — is a free weekly newsletter with hints and examples to improve your grammar and writing skills. Each week a different subject is covered, such as Indefinite Pronouns, Gendered Vocabulary, Sentence Structure and Commas. Everyday usage of grammar is given in right and wrong examples. It's fun and a great refresher course. You can sign up for newsletter at GrammarCheck. If you have a grammar question you can email GrammarCheck people, or submit question on Web site form. There are also archives of topics previously covered.
GrammarCheck (http://grammarcheck.com) takes a light-hearted approach to subject, and is very user-friendly. It only takes a few minutes a week to brush up on those grammar skills.
JournalistExpress — This is a relatively new site and just about an essential reference desk for non-fiction newshounds. After registering, you can customize your page with links to your specific interest areas. JournalistExpress has tools to finding just about any information a journalist would ever need, all in one place. It's a also a great place to come up with story ideas. There's even a section called "Slow News Day", with links to what's new on Internet.