Most writers these days are switched on to the everyday benefits of the Internet. Communicating with editors, potential readers and fellow writers has never been easier and the millions of pages of information at our fingertips have revolutionized the way we do our research. Beyond its more obvious uses, the Internet can enhance all aspects of a writer’s life and there are plenty of free resources available if you know where to look for them. Free Software for Writers New writers are often tempted to rush out and buy expensive software, just at a time when money is tight. Why not let the Internet provide you with some free tools instead. Many of the big names like Google and Yahoo are fighting to provide surfers with the best free packages, which is great news for us. If you know where to look, you can get free online word processors and spreadsheets, allowing you to access your precious documents from any computer and work on them with other collaborators. New personalized search tools increase the efficiency of your Internet searches and mean you never lose a valuable piece of information again. Use Your Online Community Whatever your area of interest, it’s bound to have a community somewhere on the web. Forums are a great way for writers to conduct research, gauge public opinion and promote their own work. Writing can be a lonely occupation and there are plenty of forums for writers, offering helpful advice and much needed support. Speak Up Writers need to get their voices heard and the Internet provides a great platform from which to shout. There are hundreds of free blog hosting services online, giving you space to rant, inform, entertain or promote yourself. The podcast provides another exciting new medium for writers to communicate with their audience and it is relatively simple to make one of your own using free online resources. Develop a World View Writers can’t work in a vacuum and inspiration and creativity comes from interaction with real people and environments. Even so, the Internet can help you to keep your finger on the pulse and develop an awareness of the world around you. Sites like the BBC’s excellent news portal provide up to the minute news, views, and analysis, together with opportunities to participate and debate. Have Fun While the Internet can provide unwelcome distractions for writers, used in the right way, some of these activities can provide inspiration and promote creativity. Write a 50,000 word novel against the clock, release your books into the wild or collect and share your favorite bits of the web with others. These are just some of the things you can do for free to keep your creative juices flowing!
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