Free Online Creative Writing Resources

If you love to write, but aren’t a creative writing major, or if you are an English student, but you don’t have a workshop class this semester, it can be difficult to find time to write. Without the support of a teacher or your classmates, it can also be difficult to come up with new ideas, commit to writing regularly, or get helpful insight on your work. Luckily, there are a lot of free resources online for creative writers. Here are just a few: 

Poets & Writers: https://www.pw.org/ 

Poets & Writers is the resource for creative writers. They have tons of helpful articles, a magazine, podcasts, and directories of publications, university-level writing programs, reading venues, literary agents, presses, and more. There is so much stuff here, we can’t even describe it all; suffice it to say that if you’re a writer, P&W has something that will be beneficial to you, whether you’re looking for MFA programs, trying to get published, or just looking for inspiration. 

Association of Writers & Writing Programs: https://www.awpwriter.org/ 

Not only does AWP put on the biggest conference in the Western literary world, their site is also a great resource for finding writing contests, other conferences, and writing programs. They have a monthly magazine, Writer’s Chronicle, and a regularly updated calendar of literary events, literary news section, and podcast series. 

New Pageshttps://www.newpages.com/ 

Like Poets & Writers and AWP, New Pages is chock-full of writing resources from calls for submission, writing contests, writing programs, literary magazines to book reviews and literary links. They even have a guide to bookstores in the U.S. and Canada (a great resource for when you’re on a book tour—or just looking for a bookstore while on vacation)  

Writer’s Digesthttp://www.writersdigest.com/free 

You may have already heard of Writer’s Digest, but if you follow the link above, you’ll have access to free downloads of helpful writing exercises and informative writing tips. Plus, you can check out the rest of the Writer’s Digest site (as we mentioned a few weeks ago in Creative Writing Blogs You Should be Following, they have some good blogs)! 

WKU’s Writing Center bloghttps://wkuwritingcenter.wordpress.com/ 

Our reputation is that of an academic writing resource, but we love creative writing too! Many of our consultants are creative writers, themselves. While not all of our content is specifically relating to creative writing, we do regularly post CW content, and content about writing in general that can be applied to creative as well as academic writing. 

Interested in creative writing resources or a consultation with a writing tutor on a creative piece? Visit the Writing Center today or set up an appointment online. We’re open from 9 AM to 4 PM in 123 Cherry Hall and 4 PM to 9 PM in the Academic Commons in Cravens, Monday through Thursday (9 AM to 3 PM in 123 Cherry Hall on Fridays). 

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Setting up a professional email signature

Email is a cornerstone of communication on the college campus as well as most workplaces, but the truth is, we’re rarely formally taught email etiquette. Since students are communicating with professors, classmates, potential job or internship sites, campus staff, organization leaders, and others, having a professional email presence is critical, and an important component of a professional email presence is a good email signature. 

What does a professional email signature look like? 

A good email signature has four basic components: your name, your title, your organization, and your contact information. At its most basic, your signature can have this information, in the same size/font/format/color as your email body text. That might look something like this: 

[First name] [Last name] 
[Major] student 
Western Kentucky University 
[email address] 

You can choose to add additional information to your email signature, such as a link to your LinkedIn profile or online portfolio, as well as your phone number or other contact information. It’s important to remember who you will be communicating with, however. Make sure you don’t provide a link to your personal social media accounts like Twitter if you’ll be communicating with potential employers (unless you’re applying for a position in social media, of course) or that you don’t include your address if you have to communicate with strangers, for personal safety reasons. 

It’s also up to you whether you choose to make the signature stand out from the text with formatting different from your body text, though you won’t want to do anything too crazy (e.g., rainbow colored text, unreadable font, size 80 text). Here’s another example of a professional signature: 

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Here’s a free tool for creating a customized, professional-looking email signature: https://www.hubspot.com/email-signature-generator 

How to set up an email signature in Outlook  

  1. Select the Settings tab in the upper right corner of the window.  pic2
  2. Search “signature” and select Email signature from the results. pic3.png
  3. Enter your email signature in the text box provided. pic4
  4. Select OK to save the signature. 

If you have questions about writing and communicating in a professional manner, the Writing Center can help! Visit the Writing Center today or set up an appointment online. We’re open from 9 AM to 4 PM in 123 Cherry Hall and 4 PM to 9 PM in the Academic Commons in Cravens, Monday through Thursday (9 AM to 3 PM in 123 Cherry Hall on Fridays).

Academic writing blogs you should be following

Improving your academic writing skills doesn’t have to involve musty textbooks, terse grammar tomes, or innumerable style guides. As a student writer, you have a lot of resources available to you to help improve your academic writing; one of those resources are blogs, and there are plenty of blogs on academic writing. Here are some of our favorites:

Explorations of Style: https://explorationsofstyle.com/

This blog has great, in-depth blog articles on all things academic writing, from the technical (“Transitions“) to the practical (“Can You Have Too Much Writing Time?“) to the existential (“Yes, you are a writer!”). There are posts on key writing principles and key writing strategies, plus, the author, Rachael Cayley, also lists the sources she uses.

patterhttps://patthomson.net/

Pat Thomson’s blog patter has a wealth of information on academic writing, from dissertations to conference papers to finding the angle for your research paper. It also has interesting posts on academic writing-related topics, like the phenomenon of the academic “poison pen.”

Scientific Academic Writing: https://www.scoop.it/t/scientific-academic-writing

This blog focuses specifically on science writing, which many students struggle with, but it also has applications for other forms of academic writing. While many of the posts are scientific academic writing-specific, there are also posts on general academic writing topics, such as how to improve your writing by reading, or why academic writing is so stilted and stuffy.

James Hayton, PhD: https://jameshaytonphd.com/everything/

While this blog is specifically geared toward PhD students, it has great information on academic writing general. Some of our favorites include “Metaphor and Analogy in Academic Writing” and “What goes in the Introduction, what goes in the Conclusion?

The WKU Writing Center blog: wkuwritingcenter.wordpress.com

Our blog is full of information about academic writing and we post every Tuesday and Thursday!

If you have questions about grammar and would like to learn how to identify the patterns of grammatical error in your writing, the Writing Center can help! Visit the Writing Center today or set up an appointment online. We’re open from 9 AM to 4 PM in 123 Cherry Hall and 4 PM to 9 PM in the Academic Commons in Cravens, Monday through Thursday (9 AM to 3 PM in 123 Cherry Hall on Fridays).

How to become more comfortable sharing your own work 

At times, writing can feel like an intensely personal act, and because of that, it is often difficult for writers to share their work. As a student, you’re required to share your work in a variety of ways, whether with your professor, a writing tutor, your classmates, a workshop, a conference audience, or the readership of a journal. If the idea of other people hearing or reading your writing makes you nervous, here are a few ways that you can become more comfortable sharing your work with an audience.

Practice

You knew that we were going to say this, but that doesn’t make it any less true. If reading your work in front of people makes you nervous, practice! You can do this by finding a good practice audience, like a group of friends: people who you aren’t afraid to speak in front of and who you’re not afraid will judge you. It can also help to read in front of an audience of your peers who you don’t necessarily know, so that you can get comfortable sharing your work with strangers. An open mic event (like the one hosted by students of the English department—one will be coming up soon!) can be a great opportunity to share your work in a low-pressure environment. No one is grading or judging, and often, the audience members are equally nervous about reading their own work.

Remember that people are self-centered

Rarely is this a comforting truth, but in this instance, it can be. When you’re nervous about sharing your work, remember that people are generally self-centered; that means that they’re thinking about themselves, not thinking about or judging you. When was the last time someone shared their work with you? Were you judging or mocking that person? Chances are that you weren’t; you were probably wrapped up in your own concerns. The same applies when you share your writing with others.

Don’t take it personally

If you’re sharing your work in a workshop or a tutoring session, you’ll probably receive some critiques and suggestions for improvement. In these instances, it is important to remember that the comments are on the piece of writing, not on you as a writer or as a person. Additionally, none of them are designed to hurt your feelings—they’re intended to help you make the piece better. Again, practice can be useful here; the more you hear commentary on your writing, the more accustomed to it you’ll become.

Getting comfortable with putting yourself out there and sharing your writing can be scary, but just like putting yourself out there in other ways, like making friends, professional networking, or getting involved in your community, is necessary to having a fulfilling academic experience, so is sharing your work. These three strategies can help you become more at ease when sharing your work, and that can only be a good thing!

Want to polish a paper before sharing it? Visit the Writing Center today or set up an appointment online. We’re open from 9 AM to 4 PM in 123 Cherry Hall and 4 PM to 9 PM in the Academic Commons in Cravens, Monday through Thursday (9 AM to 3 PM in 123 Cherry Hall on Fridays).

Best free online group project tools

Group projects can be a pain. It’s hard to get two, three, four, or more people in the same place, at the same time, and keep everyone on task. Luckily, there are some excellent online tools you can use to collaborate with other students on group projects. These are some of our favorites:

Asana: https://asana.com/

Asana is the best free project management software out there. With Asana you can create your team (that is, add your group project members), create tasks, set deadlines, assign tasks to specific users, share progress updates, talk about the project with team members, share documents, and more. For all the tasks assigned to you or that you follow, you’ll get regular email reminders about the due date, helping keep you on task. Plus, when you complete tasks, cute little animations pop up on your screen (sometimes they’re unicorns)!

Google Drive: https://www.google.com/drive/

If you have a Google account (and like, everyone does), you have access to Google Drive, a cloud-based online platform for creating documents, spreadsheets, slideshows, and more. You can create a project in Google Drive, share it with multiple people, provide them with editing permissions, and all work on the project at the same time, from different locations, and all your changes will be made in real time. Within a document, you can also leave comments, @ mention other editors, and open a chat with the other group members. It’s almost better than working in the same room!

Microsoft OneDrive: https://my.wku.edu/

With your student email account, you have access to useful Microsoft apps, including OneDrive, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. Like Google Docs, with these apps you can compose and save documents online, accessible from anywhere you can use your email account. You can also collaborate with other students in real time, making this super useful for group project work (plus, you don’t have to know everyone’s personal email address). As another advantage over Google apps (sorry not sorry), the formatting options are better and slightly more intuitive.

Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/

Dropbox is what it sounds like: a virtual box into which you can drop things, specifically files. Dropbox is very secure and has tons of controls on how you can share the files, who can access them, and file viewing/editing/accessing permissions users have. If you have a file-heavy project and need to make sure everyone has access to all the important materials, creating a Dropbox for your project and sharing it with your group members is a good way to do that.

Want to take advantage of another free resource? Visit the Writing Center today or set up an appointment online. We’re open from 9 AM to 4 PM in 123 Cherry Hall and 4 PM to 9 PM in the Academic Commons in Cravens, Monday through Thursday (9 AM to 3 PM in 123 Cherry Hall on Fridays).

Best Free Online Writing Tools for Student Writers

It’s not stereotyping to say that college students love free things—it’s just a fact. Whether it’s free t-shirts from student organizations, free pizza from events on campus, or free pens from tablers in DSU, we’re taking advantage of all the freebies we can get. Why not do the same with your writing? There are tons of free writing resources available to you online; here are a few of our favorites:

Grammarly: https://www.grammarly.com/

If you’ve ever thought you needed spellcheck for email, you’re in luck. If you’re doing any writing online or in MS Word, Grammarly is for you. It’s a spellchecker that is more intuitive than Google’s or Microsoft’s, and it can be added as an extension to your web browser. If you create an account, Grammarly will track your common errors and provide you a weekly report to help you improve your writing.

Google Docs: https://www.google.com/docs/about/

If you have a Gmail account, you have access to Google Docs, an online word processing program. In addition to having similar functionality to MS Word and Apple’s Pages, it stores all documents online in your Google Drive, connected to your Gmail account. Additionally, it saves while you’re working (never accidentally lose your whole paper again!); you can have multiple editors on a document, all working in real time (great for group projects); and you can access your paper from any computer with internet.

Microsoft OneDrive: https://my.wku.edu/

With your student email account, you have access to useful Microsoft apps, including OneDrive and Word Online. Like Google Docs, with OneDrive and Word Online, you can compose and save documents online, accessible from anywhere you can use your email account. You can also collaborate with other students in real time.

Purdue OWL: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/

We love the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab), and you will too. It has resources on every style of academic paper, including MLA, APA, and Chicago, plus resources for ESL (English as a Second Language), writing in general, and resources for tutors and teachers. Any citation or formatting questions you may have, Purdue OWL has the answers.

WKU’s Writing Center “Resources for Writers” Pagehttp://www.wku.edu/writingcenter/resources_writers.php

We’ve got some great resources, besides the ones mentioned here, specifically for academic writing linked on the Writing Center website. We’ll also be adding some video and pdf tutorials and reference sheets in the upcoming weeks—stay tuned!

WKU’s Writing Center blog: https://wkuwritingcenter.wordpress.com/

We’re shameless self-promoters, but it’s because we’re doing a ton of great stuff right now. We’ve got content on all sorts of writing situations, and new content is posted every Tuesday and Friday!

Want to take advantage of another free writing resource? Visit the Writing Center today or set up an appointment online. We’re open from 9 AM to 4 PM in 123 Cherry Hall and 4 PM to 9 PM in the Academic Commons in Cravens, Monday through Thursday (9 AM to 3 PM in 123 Cherry Hall on Fridays).

Where to write at WKU

By Abby Ponder

We all know that starting a paper is often the most difficult part of writing the paper. In fact, we’ve covered it in great detail on this very blog. At the end of the day, though, we all have our own spaces and places to tell our stories; however, if you’re wanting to stay on campus for your writing days, we’ve got a couple suggestions for you.

Your Dorm (or home)

It seems pretty self-explanatory, but some people write their best work from the comfort of their own room.

There are obvious pros to writing in this location: (1) you’re comfortable, (2) you don’t have to deal with people distracting you from writing, and (3) you’re familiar with the space and everything in it. Let’s be honest, it’s also really convenient–especially when you’ve procrastinated until the night before the paper’s due. Not that you’d ever do such a thing, though, right?

But, at the same time, these pros can sometimes be cons. Being comfortable might mean you’re more easily distracted or tempted to take a nap. Plus, if your roommate or friends from down the hall are hanging out, you’re more liable to be distracted by them than hearing a stranger order a cup of coffee or rant about the latest Scandal episode. Who knows, in your own room you might even watch that Scandal episode yourself.

Really, whether or not your dorm (or home) works well for your writing depends on your personality and your ability to concentrate. Test it out and use your best judgment.

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Helm/Cravens Library 

This seems like the most obvious place, of course. It’s quiet. Or, at least, it’s supposed to be quiet. (Cough.) There are seemingly endless floors–nine, nine floors–and endless rows of books and shelves. Some of the shelves even move! The cubbies of desks sprinkled throughout the perimeter of each floor are also especially appealing if you like to be alone with your thoughts. Or you can use the computer lab on the fourth floor in Cravens. There are usually plenty of computers available, and it’s one of the best places to go if you need to concentrate and thrive off people’s judgment to keep you off Facebook.

Plus, if you’re working on your paper between 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., then stop by and see us at our Cravens’ location. We’ll be hanging out at the reference desk.

Ultimately, the library is a wonderful place to write. Generally it’s even my first choice! Unless, of course, it’s final weeks. And then you might have to fight for that spot, buddy.

blast-in-the-library

Starbucks/Einstein’s/Java City

Nothing breeds productive thoughts like the smell of brewing caffeine in the air. For some people (myself wholeheartedly included), a coffee shop is the undisputed best place to write. There’s enough hustle and bustle to stifle the silence, but you can also do your own thing with a nice cup of joe by your side. It’s a great environment! Plus, you can also feel really mature as you sip that latte and type away.

Just keep in mind that if you’re camping out in your fave coffee shop for a few hours at a time, you should actually buy something while you’re there. (This is also especially true for coffee shops off campus.)

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The Colonnade (or anywhere outside, really) 

Now that we’re nearing spring and the weather is warming up, writing a paper outside is an ideal idea-churning location. What better place is there to feel an idea sprout from your pen and see words blossom on your screen? Whether you’ve got a hammock, a blanket, or a spot on the Colonnade steps, you’re guaranteed to be writing in comfort and style.

Fair warning, though, that comfort and style might be a little too distracting.

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Mass Media and Technology Hall 

If you enjoy writing on desktop computers, then MMTH is the place for you.

It’s also the place for you if you need people’s judgment to keep you on task but find the quiet of the library stifling.

Conversely, if noise bothers you, then you might want to reconsider. Either way, though, it’s an excellent place to print that paper off before class. And if you’re not already using WebPrint from your laptop, now is the perfect time to start…

writer-moments13

So, where are your favorite places to write? Share in the comments below! And good luck as you move forward with those papers, my friends. Don’t forget that the WKU Writing Center is here to help you with the paper writing process. Give us a call at (270) 745-5719 to set up an appointment today.