I get a lot of emails asking me how to become a writer and here's the answer: write.

Seriously, that's it. That's the secret. But if you want the things that I think are helpful as a newbie writer, read on:

The Absolute Write forums are super helpful and a great way to get started with critique groups and basic craft.

Twitter is also great for finding other writers via the hashtag amwriting

Meet Up and libraries are a local option.

All are free.
I feel very strongly that you shouldn't pay for friends, which is why I don't endorse SCBWI or other organizations that target aspiring authors and their $$$$.

Especially since these groups tend to have a terrible record with how they treat people of color.
Books: I will always endorse Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway as sort of my Holy Grail of writing. It is straightforward and new editions are only $10. Well worth the investment.

Everything else? Just Google it and find it for free on someone's blog. 😂
I also think Scott McCloud's Making Comics and Understanding Comics are great if you're more interested in visual storytelling.
Classes: by far the question I get most often is whether or not someone should get an MFA. Short answer: no, you don't need it.

Community colleges usually offer writing classes. Only get an MFA if you want to teach writing or someone else is paying for it.
Industry Bullshit: Publisher's Lunch is really the only place I think is worth the money for an author who wants to keep up with what is happening in publishing. You should only sign up for this after you've sold a book, though. Because then it's a write off.
And always, ALWAYS remember that money should flow toward the author. Don't pay for editing unless you're planning on self publishing and you can count it as a production expense.

NEVER pay an agent upfront, they get 15% when the work is done or nothing at all.
You can follow @justinaireland.
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