Young Writers

 I LOVE talking with young writers in schools,  libraries, and extracurricular groups. One common question I get all the time is 'How Can I Be a Writer'?
     This is one of my favorite questions because 1) I tell them they are ALREADY writers; and 2) I have a list of things to do to become a BETTER writer. There are three ways. Are you ready?

  • READ, READ, READ! Chances are if you like writing, you also love to read. It makes sense, doesn't it? You can't be a writer if you're not a reader first! Reading teaches you how authors structure their stories to keep you turning pages. It helps your vocabulary, too. Most importantly, it opens your mind to new ideas and cultures. Make sure you read more than simply your favorite books and authors. Read everything — fantasy, mysteries, science fiction, romances, non-fiction! Read magazines, newspapers, vacation brochures, and maps. Reading informs your writing. There's an unlimited amount of information out there to inspire your story!
  • WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! Think of writing as a sport. If you want to get really good at baseball or basketball or tennis, you have to practice, right? The same mindset goes for playing an instrument, making chocolate chip cookies, or carving a pumpkin. Our first attempts at anything new are always a little short of spectacular. But if you write everyday, soon you will be a good writer. Keep practicing and you'll be an even better writer. Someday you might even become a GREAT writer. I've heard that it takes about 10,000 hours to truly master something. How long have you been writing? Chances are you're well on the way to becoming a WRITING MASTER.
  • HANG OUT WITH OTHER WRITERS! Maybe you can start a writer's club at the library or at someone's home. Trade stories with your friends so you can suggest ways they might improve, and so they can return the favor. It's helpful to have people read your stories because sometimes we can't see our own mistakes. And your family will love everything you write, because they can't help being encouraging and supportive! Above all, remember to be KIND, YET HONEST when offering suggestions. Showing our work to others is a brave, and sometimes scary, task because our stories come from the heart. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!!
A few helpful articles:

     Writing advice from middle-grade author, Nathan Bransford!

     If you want to start publishing now, here are some links to print and on-line magazines which publish stories and poems written by kids, or sponsor contests. Remember: before you submit your work, make sure you follow the submission rules. Each publisher's rules are different, so pay close attention to what they want you to do. 

ALPHABET SOUP: a list of cool writing competitions!
BOY'S LIFE: sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America. Annual reading & writing contest.
CYBERKIDS: Looking for stories, poems, art, etc. from ages 7-12.
FRODO'S NOTEBOOK: On-line magazine featuring writing from ages 13-19.
KIDSPIRIT ONLINE Looking for submissions of fiction, poetry, illustrations. Age 11-17
KIDSPUB: On-line site to post stories, poems, fan fiction, etc. Monthly contests. Membership fee.
NaNoWriMo Young Writer's Program: Write a novel in a month challenge!
NEW MOON GIRLS: Publishes fiction, poetry, and artwork.
STONE SOUP: Print magazine, looking for fiction, poetry, artwork.
TEEN INK: Looking for writing, art and photos. Ages 13-19.
YARN: On-line site for ages 14 & up. Looking for fiction, essays, poetry.


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