If you’re a writer and on Twitter, you should know about the incomparable Elizabeth S. Craig. She shares fantastic resources for writers that she finds all over the web, like a one-woman news source.
More importantly, if you’re a writer—whether you’re on Twitter or not—you should know about her Writer’s Knowledge Base, which pulls all those resources together into one searchable database. Think Google for writers.
In short, she’s pretty amazing. And she still manages to write new books too.
Finding Resources for Writers—by Elizabeth Spann Craig
When I first tried to connect with other writers online, it was in the mid to late 90s.
The writing scene online was practically nonexistent. Keep in mind that this was before Facebook, before blogging got popular. There were a few writing forums but not for my genre. I did end up connecting with a critique group of some kind online, but it fell apart in short order.
I kept wondering, “Where are the writers?”
Over ten years later, it was a very different online scene for writers.
Now there was a lot of information online and lots of writers online. There were thousands of writing blogs. There were scores of posts on the writing craft, authored by qualified, working writers, editors, and other industry insiders.
Again, though, it seemed to me that the information was difficult to locate. When I searched Google for writing tips, I really had to dig. I dredged up lots of useless information or information that wasn’t intended for professional writers. My fruitless Google searches seemed crazy to me, because the information was definitely out there. But it was scattered. I might come across a fantastic blog post on integrating backstory into a manuscript, but it was posted by a random blog that didn’t have a high ranking on Google. Unless you dug through 30 pages on Google, you wouldn’t have come across that article.
Even on the random blog, the information was frequently not accessible for very long. Many blogs don’t catalog their most popular posts or their most useful ones in their sidebar so the helpful post would end up getting buried in the archives by the end of a busy week of blogging.
At the same time, I was trying to build a platform online. I had a new release and was just getting word of a different series for another publisher. I wanted to have a solid identity online.
So these two things—my recognition of the lack of accessible resources for writers (articles by writers, for writers) and my need to promote coincided at about the same time.
I started amassing a large number of blogs in my Google Reader. I was already reading a ton of writing blogs. I found that I could go to any sidebar of any writing blog and find at least half a dozen new writing blogs referenced that I could subscribe to.
So that’s what I did. I started collecting writing blogs like some people collect stamps, recipes, or baseball cards. I’d subscribe to the RSS feeds in my Google Reader and read writing blogs daily, soaking up the information that they published.
The quality of the articles was as excellent as I’d imagined. When I came across a particularly helpful post, I’d tweet it on Twitter, knowing that others would also find the information useful. My followers grew.
Eventually, I realized I’d run into a new problem—there was too much information. My Twitter followers would message me, reporting that they’d bookmarked nearly everything I tweeted.
That was great, but writers need different information at different times. When they’re writing a first draft, they need plotting help. When writers hit a wall, they want inspirational posts. When they revise, they’d like editing tips. When they’re querying…well, you get the idea.
These writing links needed to be searchable. It was crazy for writers to have a thousand bookmarked sites—and bookmarks for information that they don’t currently even need.
I simply couldn’t figure out a good method to make my links searchable. I tried putting the links up each week on my blog…but Blogger’s search function is spotty, at best. The ability to search links was still limited.
One day, in frustration, I mused on my blog that I knew there had to be a better way, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
That was when programmer Mike Fleming contacted me. He knew the better way—to create a search engine for the links. Completely independently of me, he’d planned on building an engine for writers. As Mike put it, “The problem was she had content and no technology and I had technology and no content. Isn’t that how Reese’s peanut butter cups were born?”
With my links and Mike’s programming, the Writer’s Knowledge Base was created—a free resource for writers to find the information they need for their particular stage of the writing journey…with 9000 links to search (and more added every day.)
We’re always looking for ways to improve the search engine, and new blogs to add to my Reader. Do you have any suggestions for the WKB or writing blogs to recommend?
Elizabeth’s latest book, Finger Lickin’ Dead , released June 7th. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011.
Now do you see why Elizabeth is so awesome? And she’s another learning addict like I am. *smile*
Have you used WKB? Do you have any suggestions on how to improve it? Do you have suggestions on writing resources or writing blogs to add to the WKB? What’s your favorite way to find information about writing?