*Look for anthologies to write for and submit. Here’s one author’s reasons to do so. Some require being invited to submit. Some make money for those who submit. Many exist to give nonpublished authors an opportunity to be published. I’ve have pieces published in the San Diego Writer and Editors Guild anthology, The Guilded Pen (requires membership in the Guild); the San Diego Writers, Ink anthology, A Year in Ink (open to anyone with a connection to San Diego; nonmembers pay a nominal submission fee); and Leila Joiner’s The OASIS Journal (for writers over the age of 50; may no longer be an option).
*Look for publications accepting submissions from unpublished authors.
*Look for newsletters (for organizations you are already part of) or small newspapers in your area that invite submissions from readers. Many writers groups, for example, welcome members to submit summaries of their meetings for inclusion in their newsletters.
*Check out useful websites for writers. This link will take you to Scribendi‘s site with the top 30 writing websites in 2020. Check out their websites and sign up for newsletters for those that feel like a good fit.
*Join a read-and-critique group that specializes in the genre you’d like to write. Check out Meetup.com to see if one already exists in your area.
*Join a book club to meet people who read books in your genre.
*Take a class in creative writing or in memoir writing. Adult education programs through school districts, community colleges, and universities often offer low-cost classes for the community.
*Join a writers group in your area. If they produce a monthly newsletter, offer to write pieces for it. I’ve joined four writers groups in the San Diego area: San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, San Diego Writers, Ink, San Diego Professional Editors Network, and Publishers and Writers of San Diego. Two of them invite members to provide online bios which may lead to building networks with other authors and editors. All of them provide some benefits only to members.
*Read widely in all genres. Consider whether and how the same story could be told in your favorite genre.
*Write book reports about the books you read. Join Goodreads to keep track of what you read and what you want to read. Create a bookshelf for books like your idea to track posts from the author or comments from readers.
*Write a different version of a story you recently read. Write it for a different audience or from the viewpoint of different characters.
*Sign up for a writing prompt service or find a group of people willing to compare their work on prompts. Here’s an online service: https://www.servicescape.com/writing-prompt-generator. Pick a genre or a combination of genres and press the Submit button to get your first prompt.
*Look for writing challenges, such as the April A to Z Blogging challenge. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) each November is another writing event involving a large community of writers. Taking part in such a challenge adds an element of accountability to your effort.
*Create a personal blog and commit to writing 500 words each day for a year or repeat the A to Z challenge in a month other than April. Like April, June, September, and November have 30 days. A number of blog platforms offer free and simple to manage websites. Even without all the bells and whistles of SEO and mailing list building, a website offers accountability to those who come to the site regularly. I started with Blogger before moving to WordPress.com. Wix, Squarespace, and Web.com offer free or low cost options. WordPress is the most popular version, but the platform is so powerful and flexible that it is easy to get lost if you try to set up a site yourself. Note also the dot com version is hosted on servers of its owner, Automattic, Inc, and is entirely free if you are willing to allow ads on your site, while the dot org version requires a hosting service which is just the beginning of the required investment in a website on that platform). Use the cheapest option you like to get practice writing regularly. When you decide you want to build an audience, consider having a professional web designer create it for you to ensure the bells and whistles needed for SEO and Analytics for checking the pulse of the site are incorporated.