I’ve been checking out various writing websites since 1999 when I was writing while teaching. At the time I was looking for places where I could practice, get feedback, and connect with other writers. While some of those sites no longer exist, there are still plenty of great places for writers to practice – serving a variety of purposes. Here are my three favorite sites for writers. All of these are FREE to join and use – although may accept payment.
- 100words – I started writing over here in the spring of 2002 and to this day it remains the writing site I hold most dear. The idea is to write 100 words, exactly 100 words, every day. You write it on the site (or cut and paste it) and publish daily although it only becomes public if you complete the batch. The rules are simple – apply the same counting standards in every entry (e.g. are hyphenated words one or two words toward your count?), write every day (honor system – you can write by hand and then type in before the deadline, you get one free pass, also on the honor system), have every entry be a complete one (you can’t just post 100 words of a larger piece each day or break an existing piece down). The site is simple, rarely updated and used by a core group of writers. I’m going to attempt starting my days with 100 words like I used to commencing April 1. Join me! (free but has a “tip jar” to help keep the site running)
- NaNoWriMo – On Halloween, 2009, my friend Paul sent me a quick FaceBook message asking if I’d ever heard of National Novel Writing Month. The answer to that was “no”. Now I have three drafts under my belt – all of which were written during NaNo. The idea is simple: writers commit to writing a 50k word novel between Nov 1 and Nov 30. It’s free, the site has a great community, there are lots of ways to get motivated, encouraged and tons of resources for writers. You can choose to donate to the site (which helps their Young Writers Program) or do it for free although most of us who participate will tell you even a $5 donation increases your sense of accountability. Besides the original November program there are two “camps” offered: one in April and one in July, which have relaxed rules like being able to work on an existing project, a non novel, or a wordcount under 50k. I’ll be doing camp this April… more on that in a separate post. (free but sells merchandise and accepts donations)
- Scribophile – This is the writing workshop most of us wish existed in the real world but unless you live in a highly literary community, it’s tough to find. Writers publish fiction, non-fiction, and poetry and other writers critique that work. Good critiques earn you karma – and karma is spent to post your own writing. In addition to critiques there is a vibrant writers’ community in their forums and groups. Authors can post chapters and get their entire novel critiqued prior to querying or self publishing. Fledgling writers can put their stuff out there and learn how to make all of their writing better. Work gets put into “spotlights” that allow it to be seen by other members – it’s complex but works and the site explains it well. (paid membership lets you do more but the free one is great)
There are plenty of writing sites and each serves its purpose. Much of it depends on your writing style and what you want in a site. I used to get all of my writing sites from Yahoo! Picks, a cool service where each week Yahoo! sent an email with the greatest stuff on the web by category. Unfortunately they don’t do this anymore. But through connecting with other writers and perusing the web I often stumble upon others. What are your favorite writing sites?