7 Newsletters That Will Improve Your Writing
Writers offering the best of craft and publishing advice, writing prompts, and pitch calls
The resurgence of the email newsletter over the past couple of years is great news for writers. So much of our work requires probing our deepest thoughts in isolation, biting our cuticles, staring at cracked paint on the walls. Whether online or IRL, sharing insights and developing community is essential for survival. Subscribing to newsletters by writers, for writers is a way of staying in conversation with peers. Email newsletters can offer emotional support, tips and exercises for improving craft, and resources for getting published that might otherwise be inaccessible, especially to writers beginning their careers. Some even promote community-building by establishing writing challenges and providing platforms for writers to discuss their experiences. The seven newsletters below offer the best of craft and publishing advice, writing prompts, pitch calls, and encouragement and commiseration about the writing life.
Craft Talk by Jami Attenberg
Four years in a row, the author of eight books—most recently the novel All This Could Be Yours and memoir I Came All This Way to Meet You—has brought tens of thousands of writers together for the #1000wordsofsummer project. Subscribers get a daily letter of encouragement from Attenberg or guest contributors, then aim to write 1,000 words a day for two weeks. $5/month or $50/year gives paid subscribers access to participant discussion threads to stay accountable. When not in #1000wordsofsummer mode, Attenberg sends a weekly email covering creativity, productivity, motivation, and publishing. The way she talks about the writing life is tender and comforting. “There’s so much value in just touching your work every day, circling it, thinking about why you started it,” Attenberg recently wrote.
I Have Notes by Nicole Chung
In her weekly newsletter for The Atlantic, Nicole Chung gives advice for living our best creative lives, answers reader questions, engages in conversations with authors and experts, and shares beautiful essays on how issues of the moment intersect with what we’re trying to do as writers. The author of the memoirs All You Can Ever Know and the forthcoming A Living Remedy, Chung explores these areas (some of which require a paid digital subscription to The Atlantic for $59.99/year) with great care, from interviews on the reality of being an anxious writer and tips for negotiating with editors to insights on pitching and rejection, telling stories about pain without retraumatizing ourselves, and navigating writing about living family members. I particularly love her responses to reader questions, but her essays, which explore topics such as gun violence, anti-Asian hate, and abortion, are powerful. “If I act and work and write as though a more just future will exist,” Chung writes, “perhaps I’ll be one step closer to believing in it.”
No Failure, Only Practice by Matt Bell
Every month, Matt Bell puts out a free newsletter featuring fiction writing exercises, thoughts on craft, and reading recommendations. The author of 12 books, including the novel Appleseed and craft book Refuse to Be Done, Bell creates fresh, specific, detailed exercises on elements like character, story structure, dialogue, punctuation, the passage of time, worldbuilding, and audience and intent. The exercises are always in conversation with at least one book, short story, or essay. They’re lengthy, but fascinating; Bell’s joy and curiosity set the tone for every email. “There’s an art to fashioning a good exercise,” he said in his first newsletter. “I love the challenge of trying to balance clarity of instructions with well-chosen examples, and of imposing just enough difficulty to make space for play and surprise.”
Opportunities of the Week by Sonia Weiser
This one’s for writers looking for cold, hard pitch calls. Twice a week, journalist Sonia Weiser, whose bylines include The New York Times, The Washington Post, and New York Magazine, scours social media and sends subscribers a curated list of writing and writing-adjacent jobs. Weiser only lists jobs that pay, and she has a $4/month suggested rate for newsletter subscribers (otherwise pay what you can). In addition to pitch calls and jobs, Weiser’s newsletters incorporate comprehensive resources like her Reference Desk document with links to pitching help, payment support, and finding expert sources. Feel free to share this document with anyone, even non-subscribers.
Freelancing with Tim by Tim Herrera
If you’re seeking a comprehensive education on how to succeed as a journalist, Tim Herrera’s newsletter demystifies everything from pitching to negotiating rates to crafting essays. The former New York Times editor’s free weekly newsletter shares insights and resources on topics including finding freelance work using social media and ways to approach pitching editors. His advice is candid and practical (for example: to find an editor’s contact information, casually DM a freelancer who you’ve seen published in that outlet.) Herrera’s twice-weekly live Zoom panels with industry veterans on structuring long-form features, selling books, accelerating your freelance business, and even personalized pitch feedback roundtables, are particularly unique. For $6/month or $60/year, paid subscribers receive additional newsletters and access to recordings of Herrera’s panels.
Write More, Be Less Careful by Nancy Reddy
Write More, Be Less Careful features tips in a variety of forms—essays, interviews, and even bullet points. Reddy’s digestible format, encouraging and light tone (“how to write when your brain is a fried egg”), and advice work toward her goal of helping people make writing part of their routine without dread. The author of three books of poetry, most recently Pocket Universe, Reddy sends free emails twice monthly: end-of-month intentions emails that ask writers to reflect on the past month’s work and set goals for the coming month, and mid-month pop-ins with prompts, ideas, encouragement, and links to resources. Sometimes she also spearheads initiatives like Back to Writing, an eight-week newsletter covering subjects that are hard about writing, from dealing with digital distractions to banishing imposter syndrome. If you like actionable guidance for your writing process, you’ll like this newsletter.
Writing in the Dark by Jeannine Ouellette
Jeannine Ouellette describes this recently launched project as “a newsletter for people determined to keep creating through relentlessly uncertain times.” Author of the memoir The Part That Burns and founder of the creative writing program Elephant Rock, Ouellette lets uncertainty guide her writing and teaching. Writers will appreciate the extensive weekly prompts designed to get them out of their comfort zones and “peer over the edge of doubt” to discover new things, although some are only for paid subscribers ($6/month or $60/year), as is the community chat. Ouellette also sends monthly emails on the craft of writing, the writing life, book recommendations, author interviews, and more. Even in newsletter form, the sincerity of Ouellette’s writing tends to break your heart—in a good way.