Where a writer learns about writing by writing
Back to School?
Back to School?

Back to School?

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It’s that time of year again, when it seems the whole world heads back to class. I’m teaching again this year, so I am going back- but something in the air always makes me want to hit the books and cram my brain with new and wonderful stuff. How about you?

To help you scratch that scholastic itch, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite online resources, and some of the real-world places I’ve collected shiny new tidbits of knowledge, great new tools for my writing tool-kit and made some cool writer friends.

Invest in Your Career

My first go to place for learning and support is the Creative Academy https://ccscreativeacademy.com/. Launched early this year by the terrific trio of Crystal Stranaghan, Eileen Cook and Donna Barker,  the Creative Academy is a fantastic community of writers supporting each other and sharing resources. The knowledge the three founders bring to the table is invaluable; I learn so much every time I tune into a  office hours live or via video,  or check out the resources they share and produce for Academy members. It’s hosted near where I live, so I do have the option of sometimes running into fellow members in person, but if you live anywhere in the world you get access to great resources and top- notch people. I highly recommend it- my membership is a great investment in my inner creative.

Look for Local Writer’s Groups

I am also fortunate to have a robust and active writer’s group in the town I live in. Joining has helped me to make so many wonderful friends in my writing community. If you live in the Greater Vancouver area, you might want to check out Golden Ears Writers https://www.facebook.com/goldenearswriters. We meet the third Tuesday of each month in the beautiful lobby of the ACT theatre in Maple Ridge. GE Writers is also hosting a great event on September 30, The GE Writers and Readers Festival. It’s a day of mini sessions, blue pencils and an afternoon tea to bring readers and writers together. Find details here: https://www.theactmapleridge.org/calendar/golden-ears-writers_sept30_18/.

If Maple Ridge isn’t near you, but you live in B.C., head over to the BC Writer’s Federation https://www.bcwriters.ca/ to find a list of writing events near you. Your local library is also a great resource; check their website to see if they host writer’s events at your favourite branch.

 Head to a Conference

I owe a debt of gratitude to my favourite writer’s conference, the Surrey International Writer’s Conference https://www.siwc.ca/. When I finally decided to pursue my passion for writing, I headed there first. Held twenty minutes from my house, the creative energy and supportive atmosphere of the long running conference gave me the confidence to put pen to paper. You can take sessions from amazing writers like Diana Gabaldon and Daniel Jose Older. I once had lunch with Chuck Wendig at the conference! Every writer I’ve encountered at SiWC has treated me as an equal; I go yearly now to top up my creative tank.

For the last two years I’ve also attended another local conference, Creative Ink https://www.creativeinkfestival.com/. Another amazing collective of crazy- creative, upbeat, supportive writers, I’ve made so many great contacts there. I had coffee and a face- to -face with one of my favourite writers last year, Kevin Hearne. The organizers run a program allowing writers to purchase passes for those who can’t afford to attend. Top notch humans, I tell you!

Find a virtual community on the web

I have three kids and a job- sometimes, it just isn’t possible for me to get out of the house. Luckily, there are great places writers lurk on the internet. Twitter is good- though I tend to head down the rabbit-hole when I’m on there, so I limit my trips there. I follow many of my favourite writers, agents, editors and bloggers and always learn something new when I tune in.

I also highly recommend DiY MFA https://diymfa.com/- their Writer Igniter has sparked many of my stories. I subscribe to Chuck Wendig’s blog, http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/. He is entertaining, his advice  realistic and helpful. I am also really digging his latest writer’s guide, Damn Fine Story, if you’re looking for something to read.

I write for kids and Kidlit 411 http://www.kidlit411.com/  is the place to find great information on all things kidlit related, in my opinion. They also have lots of kind, helpful members willing to help on their associated FaceBook page. I recently signed up for a year of Skilshare https://www.skillshare.com/browse?enrollmentType=free&seeAll=1.  I haven’t used it much yet, but if you’re a visual learner, they have a great selection of videos on everything from grammar to marketing, taught by some of the biggest names in the business. If you want to give back, they’re looking for people to share their knowledge and become instructors.

Traditional Academia

I have my Bachelor of Arts in English, but often wonder if I should take the plunge and pursue my MFA in Creative Writing (but that’s a tale for another post!) One of the best universities in Canada, UBC, offers both online and in-person options. Check out https://creativewriting.ubc.ca/prospective-students/graduate/online-mfa-courses/ to see if something appeals to you.

Four years ago, I did dip my toe into the world of academia by completing Simon Fraser University’s Southbank Writer’s Program. Sadly, it’s been discontinued, but they have other options including The Writer’s Studio; a year-long immersive writing program offered online and at their Vancouver campus https://www.sfu.ca/continuing-studies/programs/the-writers-studio-creative-writing-certificate/why-this-program.html.

Writers Help Writers

Did I miss your favourite website, book or course? Drop me a line in the comments below; we writer types have to stick together. Happy learning!

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