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A Google search for “writing help” will return more than five million sites. The path to writing excellence is a lifetime journey. Search “writing” on, and you’ll find thousands of books. Every college and university has its classes, with degrees in writing, journalism, and storytelling. Then there are writer’s conferences, mentoring retreats, and seminars. Helps have never been more available than now.

  • Like Mountain Climbing, Writing Is Hard Work.

After finishing a book, many writers have spent thousands of dollars for a writer’s cruise, seminar, or retreat, expecting to pitch their work with an editor and agent and land a lucrative contract. By the time they left for home, or sometime thereafter, they faced the harsh and costly realization that their writing wasn’t good enough. Feeling like a failure, they quit.

The great writers have spent tens of thousands of hours practicing the craft. They eat, breathe, and sleep with words and sentences and writing concepts on their minds. What looks like an overnight success may have taken twenty-five years.

You can be successful, but the climb takes time and effort. Find a way to make the journey fun, and the rejections won’t be so painful. You won’t want to quit. You won’t be able to quit. You’ll keep moving up because the mountain is there and you just love to climb.

  • Take Advantage of Free Help First.

A book on writing can be as helpful as a college course if you treat the text like studying for a test, giving yourself assignments and practicing what is taught. Skills are developed by doing, so the more you do, the more value you is gained.

The one thing you can’t do is know how others perceive your work. See your mom or a close friend if you want to hear how perfect your writing is. But if you want ideas that can rapidly improve your skills, talk to other writers who share your desire to communicate effectively. Find a Story Help group, or be influential in starting one.

  • Beware of Those Who Sell Their Services.

No company advertises its failures. Out of hundreds of clients, a few who are successful become the advertised cases, as if climbing mountains is easy and anybody can do it. Actually, anybody can do it, but it’s far from easy and the prices don’t always match the benefit.

Nearby writing conferences, seminars, and retreats can be a bargain when your cost for transportation and lodging is low. Check the credential, not the celebrity, of the teachers and see whether the workshops fit your learning needs. Besides the classes, the chance to network with other writers can be very valuable.