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Creative Writing Tools: Tips on Getting Started
Perhaps you are a prolific writer with a bad case of writer's block, or perhaps you have some idea of what you want to write but are unsure of how to begin. Either way, anyone can get stuck at any stage of the writing process no matter how much experience they have. Today's blogosphere can provide all the practice you need to be a better writer, and it also contains resources you can use to perfect what works you've already got in progress.
Internet reviews have become popular within the last few years. Most are video-based, but written reviews and blogs are still out there and should not be discounted. Not everyone feels comfortable appearing or speaking on camera, and any review begins with a written outline anyway. If you maintain a weekly blog on a web site of your choosing, you can practice writing and get better at it over time. Write about whatever you are passionate about or have an opinion on that you're not afraid to share with the world. Private issues should be kept private, but otherwise the world is your oyster. Moderating is a different matter, as everyone has a different opinion and not all Internet posters are polite. Just having a weekly blog doesn't make you popular, but putting yourself out there is a start.
If you've already drafted some stories you believe in but are worried about falling into traps or cliches, one web site you should definitely bookmark in your browser is tvtropes.org. Listed there are hundreds and hundreds of tropes that appear in television, movies, literature, video games, etc. The existance of these tropes are not necessarily good or bad, but awareness of them is always a plus if you want to claim to know what you're doing. Also, keep in mind that many of these may be opinion-based as well, as this is another site where content is user-generated. Another plus to both Internet reviews and tvtropes is that you can see how well- or ill-received certain tropes or cliches are by individual reviewers and content posters. You can use their opinions along with your own instincts to decide whether or not certain elements are acceptable or unacceptable for your story's purposes.
Lastly, fan fiction is not an evil. Serious writers can indulge in it just like anyone else. In fact, if you are stuck on a story, you may take a break from working on it to write about some other licensed property. It's good practice, and sometimes you may get inspiration for your real stories by writing for other characters. This does not always work, but it can't hurt either as long as you don't steal ideas directly from the source material in an illegal capacity. The key here is that if you're stuck, don't stop writing but instead work on something else for a while. Keep the ideas flowing. Alhough other projects may become distracting from your primary ones, you can still develop your talents by keeping busy.