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A New Collection of Useful Links Each Issue


By Gayle Drakes



Every year, I take up the National Novel Writing Month challenge. Held annually in November, the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. For this article, I dug into my bookmarks list to find useful links for before, during, and after NaNo. But while Nano was my prompt for this article, I selected links that I think are helpful to writers in any genre, at any time.



Before - Story Ideas, Prompts, and Generators



Sometimes you are just stumped for an idea or inspiration. Here are a couple of sites to help with that.



Writing Prompts at Poets and Writers Magazine



I just recently stumbled across this site, which posts a weekly prompt for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction (on different days for each category). The prompts were remarkably thought-provoking and engaging, based on creative sources of inspiration drawn from the writing, music, and the arts in general. Exploring these prompts can also introduce the writer to new works in the arts, which is a bonus.




Nerd Building Settlement Generator



You may be familiar with name generators- those sites that suggest names of people or places as prompts for when you just cannot think of anything.



This site is a settlement generator. You can begin with a few general characteristics of the settlement- size, biome, landscape, and temperature zone. Or you can let the site work from a random start. Once you click "Generate", the site will create a new settlement and a host of details about it. The details are extensive and include demographics, climate, government, infrastructure, even agriculture, and industries. Great for hardcore worldbuilders or for someone who just needs a spark for their creativity.




During - Focus, Motivation, and Personal Growth



Pomodoro Timer Online



An eternal struggle for some writers is staying focused on writing. One popular productivity tool in writing is the Pomodoro Technique. With this technique, you focus for 20-minute blocks of time and take breaks of five minutes between blocks. Once you complete three blocks of focused concentration, you can take a longer break of 15 minutes. The technique is flexible, and you can adjust the duration of focus time and breaks to whatever works best for you. I find the 20-minute block is too short and sometimes use a 30-minute block instead. This site includes a customizable Pomodoro timer and some bonus features including a To Do List and background music!




750 Words



This site was recommended to me and I have just begun exploring it. It gives writers a space for daily journaling, with a goal of at least 750 words a day. Many writers find journaling helpful to their writing journey. This site is more focused on helping writers to build that habit. There is a low distraction writing space, some useful progress trackers, and a points system for those motivated by rewards.




After - Writing Advice for Revising Your Story



They say all first drafts are terrible, but there are some who think NaNoWriMo drafts are a special version of terrible. What do you do with your 50,000 words (more or less) on December 1st? Revise it. Below are a couple of sites offering writing advice that can help with refining that NaNo draft, or any draft you may have.



Helping Writers Become Authors



A blog by author K. M. Weiland, this site is full of useful advice for all stages of the writing process. It covers many topics- story structure, plot, character development, and tips for improving your writing. There is an accompanying podcast that is equally content-rich. Though the author favors a structured approach to writing, and I am not much of an outliner, I have nonetheless found many useful articles for supporting my writing and my learning in WVU classes!




Writing Excuses Podcast



Their motto is "Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry and we are not that smart!". The self-deprecating motto belies the quantity of useful advice the hosts can pack into a 15-minute spot. Podcasts are hosted by established writers, and while the discussion trends towards speculative fiction, the guidance shared is quite applicable to other genres.




NaNoWriMo or not, I hope some of these links are useful in your writing.


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