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My favourite free resources on learning how to write

3 min read

When Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world”, he was probably referring to online writing.

Online writing has brought so many benefits for me. I’m learning more, reading better, and most importantly, I’m making meaningful connections on the Internet. Through online writing, I made friends from all over the world, and I continue to share and learn from them. I even got a reply from one of my favourite writers, Derek Sivers!

My first few articles were terrible. I didn’t know how to expand my ideas, I didn’t rewrite at all, and I didn’t develop a consistent writing habit. Back then, the only time I wrote was when I got an “Oh shit! I have to write for my newsletter today” moment. These days, I try to write every single day.

I still think my articles aren’t where I want them to be, but I can say it’s gotten better since I started. I wanted to write this article as a curation of resources I wished I knew when I started writing.

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Online by David Perell

Until recently, the average person wasn’t able to publish and distribute their ideas at a reasonable cost. But on the Internet, anybody, in any corner of the world, in any time zone, can access your best thinking. 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. 365 days a year.

When you publish ideas, you create your own “Serendipity Vehicle” – a magnet for ideas and people and opportunities from potentially every corner of the globe. If your ideas resonate with people, people will discover you and bring you unexpected opportunities. They’ll open doors you never knew existed

This article is the best place to start your online writing journey. David Perell explains the age of leverage and how writing can accelerate your career.

Writing Well Handbook by Julian Shapiro

When you first write an idea down, you do so in whatever disjointed way immediately came to mind. Rewriting is the art of finding puzzle pieces within that mess and putting them together in the right order.

In short, your first draft is for extracting novel ideas out of your brain. Your second draft is for rewriting those ideas until they resonate.

This is one of the most concise handbooks I’ve read about writing. Julian goes through how to make a compelling introduction, how to ask for feedbacks, and how to develop a writing habit.

Executable Strategy for Writing by Andy Matuschak

A naive writing process begins with a rough inkling about what one wants to write and a blank page. Progress from this point requires an enormous amount of activation energy and cognitive effort: there’s nothing external, so you must juggle all of the piece-to-be in your head.

By contrast, if you’ve already written lots of concept-oriented Evergreen notes  around the topic, your task is more like editing than composition. You can make an outline by shuffling the note titles, write notes on any missing material, and edit them together into a narrative. In fact, because you can Create speculative outlines while you write , you might find that the first of these steps is already accomplished, too. And writing each note isn’t hard: Evergreen notes permit smooth incremental progress in writing (“incremental writing”) .

Instead of having a task like “write an outline of the first chapter,” you have a task like “find notes which seem relevant.” Each step feels doable. This is an executable strategy (see Executable strategy ).

If you have trouble with writer’s block, this article will show you how to take notes to make writing easier.

21 Tactics to help you become a better writer by Nat Eliason

The best way to improve your word choice is to focus on what to remove, not what to add. These are the words we use in casual conversation that clutter our writing and impede its flow. Some of them are common (just, that, actually, pretty), some will be more personal (I use the words “great” too much). I’ve gotten better at spotting them over time, but I also keep a list of “banned words” to search my writing for once a draft is finished.

This article is about quick tips on how to improve your writing. Having a banned words list and avoiding adverbs is a great way to improve your writing!

Here are some other resources I haven’t gone through yet, but I’m planning to go through them someday.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

On Writing by Stephen King

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr

If you want to get into the writing habit, consider starting a writer’s support group like Word Raft and Notes Raft! It’s a free and easy way to keep yourself accountable for publishing consistently.

My advice would be just to get started! You’ll learn plenty along the way. Don’t let research become an excuse to procrastinate on writing. Just start, and you’ll get better over time.



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