So You Want to Become a Writer: Tools of the Trade for Beginners Guest Post by NiKolas Baron, from Grammarly
So You Want to Become a Writer: Tools of the Trade for Beginners
You’ve decided that out of all the other professions you could choose, writing is right for you. You want to compose beautiful prose and enter the minds of your readers to enrich their imagination. But where do you start? What do you need? What are the best writers using to enhance their writing skills? In an age of endless technology, there are millions of online resources. But what some beginning writers forget about is the actual written word: books. There are many books out there that writers need to have. Now, let’s not rule out Kindle electronic books; just because there’s no paper doesn’t mean it’s not a real book. Also, think about the entire writing process. What do you need to start out? What’s your writing style? What do you need to give you that last push at the end to finish your novel? What do you need to market, promote, or publish your work? What writing contests are available for beginning writers? There are tons of resources that will help answer these questions. Let’s discuss a few below:
Beginning writers sometimes miss out on a few of the basics. They’ve read all the books, seen all the articles, been to the conferences, and applied to the contests, but they forget about the simple stuff. A good writer, in particular a beginning writer, needs to have a dictionary and thesaurus. It doesn’t matter if you prefer paper, electronic, e-reader, or online format—a good dictionary and thesaurus are necessary. There’s going to be a time where you want a better word or you’re tired of using the same word over and over again and you’ll reach for your handy thesaurus. Or there might be a time where you’ve chosen a word, but on further investigation with your handy dictionary you find its meaning is the exact opposite of what you intended. When starting out, it’s never a bad idea to start with the basics.
Another meaty beginner’s staple is a good library. All good writers are also good readers. Know why? Books can teach you so much about style, dialog, themes, plot, setting, character arcs, what not to do, accents, and pretty much anything about writing. There’s an infinite amount of knowledge to be gained from others' work. A good library is not only a good reference tool; if you’re feeling uninspired, a treasured book can help remind you why you love writing. Having a ton of books around can also help with plagiarism. For me, I get so ingrained in my work at times that I reference material I’ve read before and think it’s my own. If it starts sounding too familiar, I can easily leaf through a few books and find out if I’ve committed any plagiarism. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or confirming you haven’t made an error, a healthy library can only help build your writing skill database.
Already finished writing your first piece? Now what to do? Proofread, edit, cut, fix grammar, punctuation, and spelling, look for synonyms, and check for plagiarism. Grammarly is an excellent resource to utilize. If you’re just starting out, cost can be an issue. By using a free online resource like Grammarly, you can save money and time. Grammarly also has tools that help identify your most common errors and teaching tools that can expand your writing skill set. It’s also a quicker resource to use for checking for plagiarism than leafing through your library. If you’re looking for an overall comprehensive writing resource, Grammarly fits the bill.
Last but not least, Writer’s Market. Writer’s Market is everything you’re looking for to start your writing career. That includes contests, agents, MFA programs, publishers; everything. Every list I’ve ever seen for a writer’s tools, whether the writer is a veteran or newbie, includes Writer’s Market as the lifeblood of writing. It’s a necessary resource to have if you wish to find an agent who represents your style of work, an MFA program specializing in your talents, or a publisher who typically publishes material like yours. It’s also a great tool to look through to get a feel for what the writing world can encompass. As a beginning writer, it’s important to know all of the resources out there to help you. Writer’s Market has any and all resources you could possibly imagine.
For as many writers who exist, there are an equal, if not greater, set of resources to use. Picking the right tools from the start saves time and money, but also teaches you crucial rules while you’re just starting to hone your skills.
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.