Writing Resources: The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Information Sources

The writing world is a big place with plenty of resources. How do you go about finding them? Good research is key when searching for resources in the writing world!

Writing is a discipline that requires practice and precision, and good information. Even if, and sometimes especially if, you’re writing fiction. As I said in a previous post, fact is stranger than fiction, but you’d better get the facts straight for your novel to be believable.

Photograph of Belinda D'Alessandro. Belinda is wearing a red jacket over a red dress and a string of pearls. She is standing in front of windows with shitters
Belinda D’Alessandro

There is no doubt that you want to use the best sources of information possible. And searching for information and references can be difficult. However, plenty of online resources can help with almost any writing project. However, if you know what resources to use, you can find the data that is best suited to your needs within minutes.

When looking for information, it’s essential to keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish and how much time you have. Many resources, from the technical to the creative, are available to help you improve your craft. Many are free, and a lot can be found on the internet. Some of them might be obvious, but others are less so. Here are some of the best sources of information for writers.

The best sources of information for writers

As I mentioned in a previous post, research is one of the secret to getting great writing ideas. There are so many different sources of information on the internet that it can be challenging to figure out which ones are worthwhile. You need to find reliable information to help you improve your writing skills. Analysing sources critically is essential when seeking helpful information; this includes looking at the historical context and the author’s personal viewpoint to see whether any political or other bias is there.

You also need to consider the source’s age since its value might vary depending on the subject matter. The author’s prejudices should be considered. Websites, unlike books, do not require a publisher. However, you need to keep an eye on the individuals who run websites you’re visiting.

How old is the source?

Using the same criteria, we may evaluate the usability of print and digital (internet-based) sources. Age is an essential consideration for digital and print sources: how old is the source? You may well consider the information in a source is related to your paper topic by looking at how old the source is. The appropriateness of a particular age range will vary according to the subject matter.

For example, if you’re writing on 17th-century British poetry, it won’t do to use solely works from the period or only early 20th-century scholarly sources as references. Instead, a combination of older primary sources and more contemporary secondary studies will benefit.

“The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.” Tom Clancy

Your argument will be more convincing if you do this. However, if you’re looking into public health theories, you’ll need to rely on more recent scholarly sources to back up your claims. Articles from a few years ago may contain information that has since been disproven.

Keep an eye out for out-of-date information when using digital sources. For example, when writing an academic paper, it is essential to avoid offering incorrect or obsolete information that could harm your work.

Online resources

In contrast to books, websites don’t need to have a publisher. Instead, think about the people behind the websites you stumble onto. Rely on scholarly databases instead of information gathered from vague sources. While ordinary search engines can turn up a few educational items, they will never turn up anything of a scholarly kind.

If you conduct a wide-ranging Internet search, pay attention to domain names. For example, a domain name can reveal the site’s advertisers and what they’re sponsoring. An educational (.edu) domain, for example, can be used for educational purposes as well as commercial and non-profit purposes.

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” Kofi Annan

You may want to avoid dot-com websites if you’re looking for information on a specific topic, as their primary focus tends to be commerce. Also, keep in mind the goal of the website. Is there any way to get in touch with the website’s creator? Is there any evidence to back up the website’s claims? What to do if the solutions to these inquiries are not readily available? It may be advisable to look elsewhere.

Man in suit pointing at line diagram of online resources
Refine your resources based on subject

It’s becoming more common for non-scholarly websites to focus on a specific issue, but they are not academic sources. Instead, an individual or group interested in publicising the blog’s content often creates and manages blogs that specialise in specific topics. Because blogs aren’t subjected to academic rigour or peer review, it’s difficult to know who writes them or their qualifications.

Remember that when conducting research, the goal is not just to accumulate sources but also to gather credible ones. You should follow the claims made within a reference and analyse the author’s stakes on those claims’ assertions to achieve this.

Although a document may not always reveal information about the author’s personal motivations, there are times when other factors, such as the publisher or sponsor, provide context. This way, you can determine whether one source is more trustworthy than another.

Sources aren’t all created equal. While Google and Wikipedia may be a starting point, academic databases on your specific topic are more credible sources when conducting academic research. Researchers can better understand the period they are studying by consulting primary sources. Don’t be afraid to ask your librarian about accessing these databases as well as searching for print materials at your local library.

Keeping up with your writing

Women standing on ladder leaning against wall with multi-coloured Post-It-Notes, spray painting the word help on a pink Post-It-NoteAs a writer, you probably know that writing is one of the most demanding aspects of any business. A writer has to be knowledgeable about multiple topics, and the amount of words they write every day is directly proportional to their income. There are just too many distractions on the internet these days to make matters worse. As a result, it’s challenging to stay on top of news and trends.

It’s also hard to find time to write. You must do so many other things during the day — answering emails, meeting your daily quota of words, etc. — that it can feel overwhelming. It’s one thing to put your fingers to the keyboard and start typing. It’s another challenge to get your thoughts down in an organised, compelling way that readers can follow. This is especially hard for new writers because they don’t have the experience or knowledge base to fall back on.

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of an aspiring author more than the blank page. The endlessly flashing cursor. Even when your head is packed to the brim with plot twists and characters, getting it all down on paper in a coherent form is another thing altogether. Luckily, this is a common first hurdle for lots of writers, so hundreds of tools and apps have sprung up dedicated to helping you gather your thoughts and start writing.

Online writing tools

Here are some free resources are available to assist you in improving your writing skills.

  • GRAMMARLY – Grammarly is a well-known online grammar and spelling checker. It can also detect plagiarism. One of the best options for bloggers and content creators is the free service, and there are also paid options. You can copy and paste any English text into the Editor or install the free browser extension for the major browsers. Grammarly’s logic for each proposed adjustment is one of its most important features since it allows you to decide whether and how to remedy a problem with confidence.
  • HEMINGWAY EDITOR – This is a sophisticated plain text editor that can create articles, blog entries, and other types of content. In addition, the Hemingway Editor trims your work of any unnecessary fat by highlighting long-winded lines in yellow and more obvious ones in red. The application reminds you to avoid using “wordy phrases”, “adverbs”, “passive voices”, and “other lexical crimes as you type” like Ernest Hemingway was notorious for. They say that Hemingway Editor “makes your writing bold and unambiguous”.
  • EVERNOTE – Using this bookmarking tool is a terrific approach to organising and storing all your story ideas in one place, ready to be used at any time. There are various ways you might find inspiration for your next scene, from reading a how-to article to stumbling across a remark that reminds you of a character. As Evernote is available on a wide range of platforms, you may take notes wherever you are, no matter where you are. You can use a single notebook, or you can use multiple journals to keep track of your ideas and thoughts as you go. When writing a novel, it’s a good idea to keep one notepad for each character or section.
  • NANOWRIMO – November holds a particular place in authors’ hearts everywhere. If you’ve been battling to get started on your own story, NaNoWriMo is the ideal opportunity. NaNoWriMo is confident anyone can write a novel in 30 days, and it provides all the tools, advice, and resources necessary for that. Motivate yourself by following the hundreds of other NaNoWriMo participants on social media and participating in NaNoWriMo forums. To begin, all you need is an idea for a book title.
  • WRITING MENTOR – Writing Mentor is a new Google Docs add-on to help revise academic writing. You can get immediate feedback on your writing using the programme. A writing guide (called Sam) offers suggestions and critiques to improve the quality of your work. Sub-categories can be selected from more significant categories to further refine the advice. You can get more specific writing criticism if you feel you extra assistance.

Books for Writers on Writing

There are a lot of books and blogs that talk about writing. But every writer has their own system, so it’s hard to know what’s worth reading. Many people ask how I improve my writing. I am an avid reader, and I read many books on writing. Here’s the list of books for writers that I would recommend to any writer looking to improve their craft.

  • On Writing by Stephen King – Even if you’re not a fan of Stephen King’s horror-filled stories, this book is a must-read. Part memoir, part guidebook, author Stephen King explains how he became the writer we know today and provides the essential writing tools that every author needs.
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – A writer’s toolkit would be incomplete without Bird by Bird. In this book, Lamott discusses her life and her writing process, including personal vignettes that help bring the book together. Lamott’s suggestions can help you discover your voice and your passion.
  • Writer’s Market edited by Robert Lee Brewer – Writer’s Market is a resource for budding authors who want to break into publishing. Nonfiction writers and short story authors alike will find a wealth of information here, including how-to guides for pitching their work. So long as this book is continuously updated, you’ll always have the most current information on publishing and getting paid for your writing.
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser – As a nonfiction writer, Zinsser’s classic work focuses on numerous types of writing, from interviewing and narrating stories about people to writing about travel. Additionally, he offers the principles of craft that can help you flourish as a writer in any genre.
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White – The Elements of Style has been used by writing teachers to teach grammar, structural writing standards, and the principles of composition for decades. Every writer needs to brush up on the fundamentals from time to time, and this book includes simple truths that every writer should be aware of.

Writer associations

If you’re a writer, you may have thought about joining a professional organisation. But, as a member of an association, do you get any actual value out of it?

Many professional writer organisations are non-profit and provide support, education, and advocacy for their members and the field of work. Writer associations often focus on a specific subset, so there is a reasonable probability of finding an organisation that specialises in the type of writing you do.

“Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” T. S. Eliot

Joining one of these organisations on an annual basis might be pricey. It all depends on your writing ambitions and how many books you’ve written or want to publish. Regardless, there are benefits from joining a writers’ organisation (support and networking, education, marketing resources, discounts from partners).

Writers can benefit greatly from membership in writing organisations. Membership in certain writing groups and organisations is complimentary, while others require a fee. If you’re looking for a literary agent, meeting with editors, attending writing conferences or learning new craft practises, these excellent writers’ organisations can help you out.

These are just a few of the writers’ organisations worldwide. Please let me know of more in the comments below!

Blogs (and Websites) on Publishing for Writers, by Writers

What resources or tools do you believe would help you improve your writing skills? Unfortunately, the internet can sometimes seem like more of a distraction than help for creative writing. But suppose you can keep social media and blog browsing to a minimum.

“Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” Will Self

Several useful websites can help with everything from providing inspiration to demystifying publishing and explaining the nitty-gritty of grammar and copyrighting. These are some of the best writing blogs I’ve found for help with the publishing process, from behind-the-scenes intelligence to publishing tips and tricks.

  • Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman on Twitter) has worked in the book publishing sector for more than 20 years. The writing process and the publication procedure are covered in detail in her articles.
  • Joel Friedlander (@JFbookman on Twitter) is an award-winning book designer Joel Friedlander is also a blogger. His book design and consulting firm at Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California, has been helping self-publishers since 1994. He also writes blogs on book design, book marketing and training course for authors and provides pre-designed book templates and scheduling tools for authors who publish their own books.
  • David Gaughran (@DavidGaughran on Twitter), an author originally from Dublin, helps authors to self-publish their work via his workshops, blog, and books.
  • Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn on Twitter), a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, offers articles and other book writing, publishing, and marketing resources.
  • Writer’s Digest (@WritersDigest on Twitter) You don’t have to subscribe to a magazine to take advantage of this site, which offers everything from writing prompts and help to publishing advice and even community forums and blogs.

At the end of the day

Content creation is a battle won with the sharpest swords, and there are many ways to sharpen them. In addition to the tools and resources mentioned here, there are endless sources of information online about writing.

Knowing where to start looking for content creation resources will help you find the best information sources for your specific topic so that you can create your next killer book, blog or article!

The best tools are the ones that help you accomplish your goals. Take some time to consider what you want to work towards, and then invest in the resources that will get you there!

Final thoughts

The internet is a wealth of information that can help you become a better writer. Hopefully, you know where to look for the correct information and what sources to be wary of. At the end of your journey, you will have a list of resources that you can use as a reference, which will be vital to ensuring that your writing is top-notch and has the biggest impact on your audience.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this list of writing resources! They’ve helped me learn more about the craft and improve my writing skills. Please feel free to comment with any additional suggestions for other great resources!

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