Advice for Young Writers

The best way to get to be a published writer is to keep practicing. If you want to dance professionally, you have to practice every day. If you want to play baseball in the major leagues, you have to get out and throw the ball hundreds of times. Writing requires the same thing. You must practice which means you must keep writing and reading. Buy a journal for yourself. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple three ring notebook will do. Put down in it what happened to you and write down how you felt about it. If you want to write stories, you must learn to become an observant witness of your own life. Be aware of your own feelings and write them down. Tell yourself on paper why you feel happy or sad or discouraged or eager or frightened. It will help you to figure out how your characters feel. Look around you. Look at the way people dress, listen to the way they talk and put down your impressions of all of this. You do not ever need to show your journal to anybody else. It is for you alone. It is all practice.

Secondly, read as much as you can. Learn from the storytellers who have come before you. Notice how they have practiced their craft. A writer is like a carpenter. We have a toolbox which includes vocabulary, punctuation, sentence structure, tense, point of view, etc.. All of these are just tools in our toolbox. The more you read the more tools you will acquire to “build the building” of your story. So keep on reading.

Do not expect to be published by a major publishing company or magazine right away. Again, if you are interested in playing baseball for the New York Mets, you will not expect to walk on the field as their first baseman while you are in the sixth grade or even in highschool. The same thing applies to writing. Concentrate on the writing first. Worry about the publishing later.

If you want other people besides your friends and your family to read your work, you can try some of these ideas:

  • If your school has a newspaper or a literary journal, try sending them some of your work. If they don’t have one, maybe you could talk to the school librarian or your teacher about starting one.
  • Send a story or poem to STONE SOUP. (Click here to go to their web site) It’s a magazine written entirely by children. Check out their website and ask your librarian whether she has some copies you could read first.
  • The world wide web has lots of sites that are interested in publishing children’s work. Do some research on Google and see what you can find!

No matter what happens, keep on writing and reading. And good luck!