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Networking for the Modern Freelance Writer: Top 10 Resources to Recreate the Lost Generation

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When discussing the golden ages of writing, many educated individuals are quick to point to the 1920s and the “Lost Generation” works of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein. Others prefer the “Beat Generation” of the 1950s, and can wax poetic about Kerouac and Ginsberg. There are many other groups similar to these, but regardless of your individual preference it should come as no surprise that so many of the historically great writers were supported by groups of like-minded individuals. The same can be done for the freelance writer.

While the Lost Generation had Paris and the Beats had New York and San Francisco, the online age has removed the same clear physical gathering point that these great writers once had. If you want to be a great writer it’s critical to be around other great writers, and many spend incredible amounts of money to attend graduate study programs that build those unique physical environments. But not everyone has access to those kinds of resources, or has the inclination to spend the time required to attend similar programs. These days, it’s possible to replicate the Paris environment of old in a most unlikely location – right on your computer.

There are a wealth of sites online dedicated to bringing together writers from all walks of life, occasionally transforming a once technical writer, into a masterful story teller. With just a little effort and engagement, these individuals can become an incredible support system and the resource you need to take your writing over the top. Whether you’re looking for a vibrant community experience or tips on the best ways to pitch publishers, these are the top 10 resources online for the modern freelance writer:



10. Goodreads is an online community focused on providing avid readers with their next great book. The community is extremely active, and building a profile allows you to identify your favorite genre, rate books, and find friends. The site then provides users with book recommendations based on their preferences. Access to such a passionate community of readers provides many opportunities for the savvy freelance writer.

Of chief interest to the writing professional is the Goodreads Author Program, a free feature which connects authors to their intended target audience. It’s a safe space for authors to promote their content and new books, and allows you to build a profile and openly advertise your products. The author program is designed for individuals who have published books or are in the process of publishing a book, so prospective writers will find less of value here.



9. Writer’s Cafe is an interesting online community that focuses on putting aspiring writers in touch with one another, reviewers that can appraise their work, and potentially publishers. You can sign up and build a profile on the site in order to publicize yourself and your work, or simply take advantage of all of the free resources they offer.

While the forum is not particularly active, and a few areas of it are plagued by spam, there’s an impressive catalog of archived content on the site aimed at helping writers improve their craft. The Courses section of the site has an enormous number of free articles and content ideas that can help you bust through that recent block and take your writing to the next level.



8. Absolute Write is an online blog and resource focusing on providing writers with everything the need to make it in the writing world. Although the blog hasn’t been updated in a number of months, the site still has a great list of recommended resources and other information aimed at helping freelance writers.

The Absolute Writer Water Cooler is their community forum, and it is jam-packed with active participants and resources that can really improve your writing. Introduce yourself in the New Members forum, and go through their Frequently Asked Questions and forum Stickies for information on most everything writing related.



7. StumbleUpon is one of the more unique sites on the web. Users create a profile and select areas of interest to them; for writers these could be things like literature, writing, poetry, or books. The site then allows you to “stumble” across various random pages on the web that are connected to those interests. It’s an incredible site for discovering things related to your work that you may never have found otherwise.

We all have those times when we’re out of ideas, or when we just need a break and a fresh perspective to really get back on track. For the freelance writer, StumbleUpon is an incredible site for identifying new material and getting out of a rut.



6. The Indie Writer’s Network is a growing community dedicated to connecting independent writers in order to increase their ability to support one another and improve collective success. The site has a variety of features focused on connecting writers, allowing them to promote their work, and providing tips and access to potential publishers.

The site is a powerful tool for connecting with other writers who want to work together to improve their craft. There are a number of discussion forums focusing on a variety of interests, and it’s possible to connect directly with other writers through their personal page. Authors who are already published can submit their work to the featured books section, potentially leading to significant visibility.



5. Book-in-a-Week is a unique collaborative online community somewhat similar to NaNoWriMo, but it occurs on a monthly basis rather than a yearly basis. During the designated week, members strive to produce as much of a book, article, or series as possible while recording their output to the group and sharing stories of their progress. Their blog contains numerous articles on writing and how best to approach the project.

Relative to many of the other sites on this list, Book-in-a-Week is quite small. They have under 500 likes on Facebook, and don’t boast the same user base of many other writer’s networks. But what it lacks in size it makes up for with activity and dedication. Users are more than happy to support one another with editing, new ideas, and other contributions, while the site itself is built to give aspiring writers the jolt they need to sit down and do the work that needs to be done.



4. Writer’s Network is a free online community that provides a space for writers and poets to share their writing, get constructive feedback and interact with other writers who share the same passions. The site allows members to create an online portfolio and submit any number of poems and stories, which are then read and reviewed by the many other writers on the site. The community is extremely active, and the fun points system keeps things interesting. Becoming listed as one of their featured writers has some definite perks in terms of visibility, and the free feedback can be incredibly valuable for honing your unique voice.

While the site has an enormous amount of short-form writing content, what distinguishes it from many other sites is its focus on poetry. If you’re interested in poetry as a form, or have an aspiration to become a professional poet, then this is certainly a place where you can test the waters and get some serious constructive feedback.


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3. Writer’s Digest is a long-running magazine aimed at helping beginning and established writers. The magazine has long included some of the best content available on how to make it in the industry, and often includes market listings and calls for manuscripts that can help aspiring writers launch their careers. The Writer’s Digest Forum is no different, and is one of the most active communities of writers on the web.

The forum focuses on the many highs and lows of the writing life, and allows writers to source advice and talk shop directly with their peers. Forum topics include writing tips, recommended resources, critique guidelines, genres, writing prompts and more. The Writer’s Block Party and Introductions sub-forms are both highly trafficked, and give writers in the community the opportunity to relax and get to know their peers. The forum contains many helpful resources, and once a writer establishes a degree of credibility it can be an incredible source of referrals and new business.



2. National Novel Writing Month, shortened as NaNoWriMo, is an internet based creative writing project that takes place each year during the month of November. It presents a basic challenge to participants: write 50,000 words between November 1st and 30th. The project values “enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft,” and focuses on breaking down the barriers for people who have thought about writing a novel but have never taken the dive. The community is relentlessly supportive, and provides systems for tracking your work and an incredible amount of helpful advice. The community has grown dramatically over time, and hit over a quarter million participants in 2011.

NaNoWriMo is focused more on aspiring writers, and has two primary points of value. The first is a system and community dedicated to breaking down barriers to entry; the site gives you a real kick in the pants if you’ve been procrastinating over your first great work. The second is access to a passionate community that’s more than happy to provide you with instant feedback and a tremendous wealth of resources aimed at improving your writing or getting it off the ground. Who knows, maybe the 50,000 words you write form the basis for the next great American novel!



1. Quora is a question and answer site where users pose questions and look for interesting answers to them. The best answers are up-voted and rise to the top of the page, where they can gain massive visibility. The community is a cross between the best parts of LinkedIn and Facebook, and combines LinkedIn’s inquisitive nature and interest in business with Facebook’s focus on community dialogue and unpretentious presentation. It’s one of the most active communities on the web.

Quora is an incredible tool for the professional content writer and the interested amateur alike. Both will find a deep rabbit hole of information and inspiration that can be leveraged for hundreds, if not thousands, of article ideas. As there are so many different contributors, it’s easy to encounter a multitude of different writing styles and learn from some of the best content producers in the business. Likewise, it’s a great testing ground to hone your own style and voice while receiving immediate feedback from an often highly educated audience.


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About the Author: Forrest Hanson is the founder of Lighthouse Strategic Communications, a boutique communications firm that provides affordable public relations and business development services to emerging businesses, based in San Francisco, CA. He specializes in marketing, content creation, brand positioning, and creative problem solving.