As a poet, spoken word artist, writer, entrepreneur (and several other amazing adjectives), I found it very difficult to find affordable and practical resources to help better myself and my craft. I had been writing since about 2000 and performing since 2010, yet, I was still having some challenges seeking quality programs and general guidance to help move my career to where it needed to be – correction – where I wanted it to be. That being said, here is a list of the best 10 resources that every poet or writer should utilize BEFORE they even begin planning their goals for the year:
1. Grants, Scholarships, Fellowships
Poets & Writers, Inc., is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for creative writers. Founded in 1970, it is the nation’s largest nonprofit literary organization serving poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. Their national office is located in New York City. Their California branch office is based in Los Angeles.
2. Writing Prompts
The Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library promotes student and faculty success in learning, teaching, and research. They build, manage, and preserve research and information collections; serve the information needs of our community in a welcoming physical and virtual environment; and create and foster collaborative opportunities for research and service.
3/4. Writing Workshops & Seminars
The famous Gotham Writer’s Workshop is the leading private creative writing school in New York City and online. Professional writers present workshops in more than a dozen forms of writing. The school’s interactive online classes, selected as “Best of the Web” by Forbes, have attracted thousands of aspiring writers from across the United States and more than one hundred countries.
The charter publication Writer’s Digest literally “wrote the book” on writing and getting published. For more than 90 years, the experts at Writer’s Digest have been publishing books, magazines, competitions, conferences and distance education materials for writers who want to polish their skills and hone their craft.
You are also likely to find free writing or poetry workshops at your local library!
5/6. A Dictionary & A Thesaurus
Writing involves a lot of words and phrases – whether it’s jargon or rhetoric – but basically they’re all the means to a well-written end. While dictionaries definitely enhance your ability to use more concise words, thesauri gives you a wider spectrum of synonyms and antonyms when you hunger for a variety of words.
Suggestion: If you’re serious about increasing your vocabulary, visit Dictionary.com and sign up for their Word of the Day email, or simply download the app on Android or iPhone.
7. The Elements of Style
The Elements of Style (1918), by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, is a prescriptive American English writing style guide comprising eight “elementary rules of usage”, ten “elementary principles of composition”, “a few matters of form”, a list of forty-nine “words and expressions commonly misused”, and a list of fifty-seven “words often misspelled”. In 2011, Time magazine listed The Elements of Style as one of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923.
8. Finding Words that Rhyme
Write Rhymes is a fairly simple site to use. Simply write a word that you want to find rhymes for, hold alt + click the word to get the rhymes.
9. A Notebook & Pen
Carry a notebook and pen with you at all times. Inspiration can hit you at any moment. Be prepared.
10. Writing Regimen
Use a calendar or planner (I prefer to use Google Calendar since it syncs with my phone) to create and keep up with a weekly 2-hour writing session. Utilize Poets & Writers, the Library, or Creative Portal to create three writing prompts per session. Plan out the next six months and begin writing as early as next week!