I'm an undergraduate student who's currently self-studying writing in quarantine. At present, I've read some books and browsed writing workshop websites on academic or technical writing. However, the more I learn, the more I notice the differences between professional writers' writing and mine, without knowing why.

This text reflects my current level of writing: I generally understand and put to practice the main points which are repeatedly mentioned in writing books or workshops, but I neither know what I don't know nor understand the main points in depth. Would anyone recommend resources for better writing? I'm open to resources from any genre of writing/type of text, from undergraduate or graduate student courses, or from subjects that are related to (or are incorporated in) writing, such as grammar and other linguistic concepts.

Thank you, in advance, for the recommendations! I appreciate them so much.


2 Answers 2


You are experiencing the exact reason why it is said that:

No one can teach you to write, but you can learn

The best resource there is for learning to write is taking classes from professional writers and participating with all your abilities. Local colleges and online classes offer a wide range of subjects on the craft of writing and the art of story telling.

Canned courses that you take by yourself can be okay, but aren't much different from reading a book -- depending on how you learn (visual, auditory, written). The best courses are interactive with other students and an engaged instructor. The down side is they can be pricey. But, the upside is that you get out of it what you put in to it.

The next best resource are local and online critique communities. Because, when we learn to analyze other writers' work, and learn how to see where they've made a poor choice in plot, setting, description, dialogue, we learn to recognize specifically how much our own writing sucks. Plus, there is nothing in this world that will teach you faster than hearing someone else tell you why your paragraph or short story is a pile of poo and knowing they are right.

Of course, beware. These communities are often the blind leading the blind -- which is not a bad thing. When they devolve into ego-stroke-fests, because no one is trying to be a better writer, those are a waste of time.

There are lots and lots of online groups and resources on how to critique someone's work and how to receive a critique

Writing is not a democracy.

Often people are anxious about participating in these groups. And that is natural, being anxious. But, it is important to overcome it and learn how to discern good useful criticism from BS. The reason is that self-criticism is the absolute key to revision and revision is the path to great writing, or just good writing.

No writers' first draft is perfect.

Revision is the most important skill you can learn. Revision depends on knowing what works and what doesn't. Knowing what works and what doesn't is the basis of criticism.

The last resource I'll mention are published works. Read the genre you want to write in -- or adjacent genres if you're doing something unique. On Amazon.com, you can use the look inside feature to read the first few pages of just about any kindle book available -- both 5 star and 0 or 1 star. (Read both)

When you read a paragraph of a book you like and can see the techniques that the author uses to create the effects in the passages you enjoy, then you are will likely find that the great writers become your best teachers.


For fiction, I recommend Stephen King's book, "On Writing". There is also a series called "The Elements of Fiction Writing" that is several short books on different topics.

Orson Scott Card wrote one of those on "Characters & Viewpoint", I thought that had some excellent insights.

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