I was in this category when I first became interested in writing a few years ago. Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to move to Melbourne and find some great writing groups to join.
However, we don’t all have the luxury of moving to a larger city. Living in rural community or isolated community can be a challenge for those aspiring to be writers. When I was living in the country, I had no idea where to start, or how to improve my writing. You can surf the Internet, but it can be very confusing, and quite overwhelming.
So where do you start?
Join your local romance writing group online. The Romance Writers of Australia (http://www.romanceaustralia.com/), are a font of knowledge, and a large supportive community. Here you can complete online short courses to build skills (OWLS), gain a critique partner and enter competitions. There are other online writing groups, such as the Australian Writer’s Centre (http://www.writerscentre.com.au/ ) which also runs online writing courses.
Read as many books as possible in the genre you wish to write. Join the local library, buy digital e-books or support your local bookshop.
Write every day. Set yourself a word limit e.g. 250 words, and just write. It doesn’t need to be perfect, don’t worry about spelling or grammar. You are allowed to write rubbish, as long as you’re writing something every day. Keep a writing diary, as has been mentioned in a previous blog.
Your favourite authors often have a writing tips and tricks. Go to your favourite author’s websites and read through the valuable information they provide.
Some starting points below:
Anne Gracie: http://www.annegracie.com/writing/writing.htm
Valerie Parv: http://www.valerieparv.com/course.html
Angela Ackerman: http://writershelpingwriters.net/author/angela/
Stock up on Writing Toolbox books. From writing structure, to grammar and punctuation. Often by being involved in online writing communities e.g. Facebook, will point you in the direction of great toolbox books.
Some suggested books: Stephen King ‘On Writing’; Valerie Parv ‘The Art of Romance Writing’; Strunk and White ‘The Elements of Style’, and my favourite, Angela Ackerman ‘The Emotional Thesaurus’.
Enter as many competitions as you can, both overseas and within Australia. Most good romance writing competitions will give you feedback on how to improve for next time. It isn’t about winning, it’s about improvement (although winning is nice).
Overseas Competitions: http://www.stephiesmith.com/contests.html ;
Attend conferences wherever you can. The RWA has one annually (http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/229/Adelaide-16 ), and it is worth saving to attend these. Otherwise, there are numerous other writing festivals that offer workshops. Intensive workshops are often a great way to improve your skills.
Gain a valuable critique partner. Someone you know and trust to be constructive and not destructive. The RWA has an online critique network, so don’t be embarrassed to put your work out there for someone else to give you feedback. If you are in a country town, you might be able to start your own writing support group. Find others that have a common goal, even if it isn’t the same genre.
Whether you write as a hobby, or are aiming for a serious writing career, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. The journey is just as important as the end product. To write your first story, no matter how small, can be incredibly rewarding and satisfying. You don’t need to be a literary master, you just need to have a story to tell. Never give up on your dreams.