In correspondence with NaNoWriMo, we have created a page to direct writers of all kinds to resources that they might need to help them in their personal endeavors. For those interested in learning more of the NaNoWriMo movement, check their website.
The nonfiction genre is by far the largest segment of our publications, and as such we have collected some resources for the nonfiction writer. The genre doesn't necessarily have to be textbooks or dictionaries, but can vary from personal experience to biography to investigative journalism. The key is writing on a topic that you are well versed in, or already have enough of a foothold in to be comfortable delving deeper.
For those looking to fine-tune or even get started on writing a nonfiction book (that is, a book centered on the real world and involving real events) feel free to use this book: On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction*. For those looking for a print book, a 30th anniversary book is available for purchase at most bookstores and internet vendors.
General Writing Tips
These are geared more towards student needs, but may also be of assistance to ESL writers or those who have been out of the academic circle for a period of time. A good primer source is The Center for Writing Studies* which offers information on citations, academic ESL, and down to simple grammar rules. Another excellent resource is Purdue University Online Writing Lab* which offers many similar resources to the prior CWS. Perhaps the most extensive however is OEDb (Open Education Database)* which features a list of writing resources, but also offers information on institutions and open-courses on various topics.
If you prefer fiction or genre writing, be it flash to novel length, we have also assembled some sites that offer resources geared towards that interest. For a few rather large lists of resources try: here to create*. A second large writer's toolbox is available at Josh Vogt's Writing Resource* which has sources not only on how to write but for what to do after you're done.
There are an abundance of books, websites, guides, coaches, and other services willing to assist with advice, tips, and strategies to turn your idea into a bestseller. We here at the press recommend using discretion when consulting such services, as there are good odds that they are more interested in their own well-being over your own.
As for submitting to our press, just because a piece is well written does not mean that we will immediately accept it. You should see our Submissions page for more information.
Other NaNoWriMo resources from around the net:
- Pen & Muse*
- HuffPost: The Serious Novelist's Guide to NaNoWriMo*
- Buzzfeed Community*
- NaNoWriMo Facebook Community*
- NaNoWriMo Reddit Community*
NaNoWriMo is a marathon of an event, demanding 1667 words a day, if you are to meet the end goal of 50,000 words. One of the best methods of achieving this is by setting aside time every day, rather than let two or three days slip by and play the game of catch-up for a week or more. Or letting it go to the point of giving up entirely, believing you can never finish now.
Another deterrent is the thought that a novel so hastily written cannot be good enough to publish. That can be remedied by checking out the list of published Wrimos*. The purpose of NaNoWriMo isn't just to produce a large word count in a short time, but to get people writing. It doesn't mean you have to complete a fully edited and ready for print work at the end of a month. Indeed, the best advice is to write that first draft and leave it sit for a few months before revising it. NaNoWriMo is only a method of getting those who don't write, but want to, out of their lulls and ruts. It is about pushing people of all skill levels to their creative limits, and also to recognize the effort that goes into completing a work of art in any form. It might just make you better appreciate the kind of dedication that goes into making that novel that you're reading.
There are dozens of kinds of software out there used for writing, ranging from simple word processors to complete packages which assist with organization, brainstorming, outlining, and even backup features. Some can be so complex that to the uninitiated they may not appear to be writing software at all. Depending on your genre, length, and even topic, you may need different features accordingly. Below are some various software packages that allow the writer a more individual approach to their particular project.
- LibreOffice*. LibreOffice is a free, open source Office Suite designed to be a Microsoft Office replacement or alternative. It offers many of the same functions as Microsoft Office (such as Spreadsheets, Presentations, etc.), and therefore contains a Word alternative called Writer. Those familiar with the Microsoft Word program should adjust quickly to this interface. (This is also a great way for students to save the money on buying Microsoft Office.) (Alternative: Apache OpenOffice*. Much the same as LibreOffice.
- FocusWriter*. FocusWriter is able to be had for free, though the creator does ask for a donation if the downloader is willing. This isn't a heavy, high use software. It has one sole purpose in it's design: force you to focus on getting words onto the page. By default, it runs in fullscreen, covering up your regular desktop completely and leaving you with a completely blank page (depending on what theme you prefer). No toolbars to be seen. No menus. They only appear if you move the mouse to the edges of the screen. This is great for writers who find themselves constantly distracted by searching the internet. Unfortunately, the bare nature of the program leaves some writers wanting or needing more to get the job done. Especially writers of Nonfiction or who depend on multiple windows to be open in order to reference other research as they write. The bare nature does give it one advantage, however, which is that it is available for all desktop computers, whether they be Windows, Mac, or Linux.
- Scrivener*. Scrivener is unique in that it is the most expensive dedicated writing software on this list (running $40 USD for the Windows Version, though it does offer a free trial for 30 days). As a result, however, it is easily the most fully featured and multifaceted software on this list. It contains tools for storyboards, research pages, virtual notecards, outlines, and even restructuring and revision. On top of this, it has a compile feature to export your document into multiple formats, even optimized for eReaders. It is the most broad software as well, designed with different templates depending on the type of writing to be done, and more features than are able to be listed here.
- Google Docs*. Google Docs is a simple net-based software built as an incredibly portable and yet feature rich productivity suite. Some of the main benefits of Google Docs are the automatic and cloud saving features that keep a writer from worrying about losing work due to hard drive failure, power loss, and all those other bad turns that a device can take with seemingly no provocation. It also has a heavy focus on multi-user editing and sharing, geared towards those taking part in collaborative efforts. Else it is very similar to a software like LibreOffice or OpenOffice, but with less customization. It also requires the users to have Google accounts, though the account and Docs functionality are free.
- Evernote*. Evernote is, not strictly speaking, designed as a program only for writers. It is a program for everyone that can be used by writers as well. It was originally built as a way to bridge the gap between mobile and desktop productivity, but has evolved into a fully feature software for mobile and desktop. The basic version is free, but to get extra features it costs $5 (for the "Premium" version) or $10 (for the "Business" version) a month. Unfortunately, the collaboration features require the highest cost, though to be fair those features aren't for everyone. For the most part it functions similarly to Google Docs, but with features geared towards information gathering and integrating web sources.
If your final work isn’t suited for us selected by us, perhaps it would do better in a writing contest. The trick with writing contests is to find the ones best suited to your writing style, genre, and writing level. It is rare that an amateur wins a large prize writing contest, as most are designed to be for mid-career or previously published authors; just as it is rare for a well-established author to enter a low prize contest, as their work would be beyond the level of the other contestants and likely removed from the running. Below are a few reputable resources for seeking out writing contests that will better fit the individual.
- Poets & Writers* is a print magazine dedicated to the craft of writing and giving advice to writers of multiple levels and styles. Unsuprisingly, their website features a host of writing tools which include a Writing Contests, Grants & Awards* search tool which allows the writer to filter by entry fee and genre, while showing prizes, deadlines, and the sponsors of said prize. The listings are frequently updated and whose requirements vary from simple entry-level publications to prestigious prizes for seasoned authors.
- Pen American Center* is a web-based service which allows a search of their database of awards, grants, fellowships, and residencies only after a $12 per year subscription. This said, they claim to offer over a thousand listings, both domestic and foreign, for all genres and levels of writing.
- Writingcareer.com* is a very simple website featuring a list of calls for submissions from a few different genres. It seems to be mostly geared towards opening level writers, with low entry fees, but low prize amounts as well. Though rather than taking the attitude of them being “not worth your time”, they should instead be looked at as great opportunities to gain readership and confidence.
- Freelance Writing* offers much of the same previous kinds of contests, but also a special Screenwriting Contests* page for those who prefer that style. It also features articles about writing as a career, and as a result, some special resources in finding work as a freelance author (as though the title of the website wasn’t enough of an indication). This page has the advantage of focusing on trying to write as a full-time or supplementary source of income.
* This website is owned and operated by a third party. As such, the University of Toledo Press is not responsible for the contents thereof, and the University of Toledo Press nor it's partners necessarily endorse said websites, services, softwares, or other features. These are being provided only as an attempt to help writers seeking out materials that they may find helpful. We have received no compensation of any kind for listing materials, services, websites, or other features on this page.Any opinions expressed on this page are solely incidental. They are a result of the author's ( Patrick Cook, Assistant to the Director) limited time and knowledge of said software, webpages, features, etc., and may not reflect the opinions of the University of Toledo Press or the University of Toledo.