Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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"Read I'M BORED to children's choir last evening. They have never, ever laughed aloud so much! Reading Success!" - Twitter post by Marjorie Bowman

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TIPS AND ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG WRITERS

By Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Also see Tips and Activities For Young Artists and Activity Pages.

'WRITE YOUR OWN STORY' PAGES FOR YOUNGER WRITERS:

(click on any image to get a print-ready PDF)




 

FOR TEEN WRITERS:

Download and print out the text-only version for I'M BORED (PDF). Notice that this text has not been separated into pages yet. There is no one right way to paginate a picture book mss. How would YOU paginate this text? Draw lines to show where you would break the text into separate pages, then look at the final book to compare.

ADVICE:

Read as much as you can. Not just the type of books you want to write, but all kinds of writing and all kinds of writers. After you've finished reading a piece, ask yourself what you liked and what you didn't, and why. What would you have done differently? Read critically.

Try to write every day. Don't just work on your novel but other kinds of writing as well. Keep a writing journal in which you write a certain number of words (50? 100? more?) a day or for a certain length of time a day. 

Try different kinds of writing. Don't be afraid to experiment. Do you usually write in 3rd person? Try first person for a change.

Don't worry if your writing sucks. It's SUPPOSED to suck in the beginning. Just keep writing. The more you write, the better you'll get. 

Your English grammar lesson may seem boring but try to pay attention. I wish -I- had paid more attention back then; it would have made things much easier later on.

Do the work. There is no magic shortcut to becoming a better writer or getting published. Beginning stories is easy. Finishing them takes more work and dedication.

Don't give up. Don't let negative criticisms of your writing discourage you. When you start submitting your material and getting rejections, you will HAVE to have a thick skin to succeed as a writer...getting used to rejection and criticism now will help you later on. DON'T GIVE UP.

Ask your school English teacher for advice. They may be aware of reputable contests and publications geared toward teen writers (here are some sites that publish young writers), and may also have practical advice about what you can do now to work toward a writing career.

Learn about the business. You may not be submitting for publication yet but it doesn't hurt to become more familiar with how the industry works. Learn about copyright, how to find good agents and publishers, about the different forms of publishing, about how to avoid scam artists.

More specific advice for teen writers:

While some writers can plunge and just write without an outline, I've found it better to do some prep first. Get to know your characters. Write an outline of your plot. Doing this work before you actually start writing will save you much frustration and time.

Video advice for young writers from Neil Gaiman:

Video advice for young writers from Rick Riordan:

Video advice for young writers from John Grisham

Related Resources:

Advice To Young Writers - by Melissa De La Cruz

Tips For Young Writers - by Ralph Fletcher

10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing - by John Scalzi

Advice For Young Writers On Creating A Strong Voice - by Junot Diaz

Advice To Young Writers - by Gary Henderson

Tips For Young Writers - by Zoe Marriott

Advice For Young Writers - from The Fiction Desk

Some Advice For Young Writers: Above All, Do The Work - by Veronica Roth

Advice For Young Writers - by Ginny Wiehardt

Terry McMillan's Advice To Young Authors: 'Focus On Your Stories, Not The Fame'

Advice for Young Writers - by Penni Russon

Career Advice For Young Writers - by Trent Jamieson

Some Practical Advice On Writing & Publishing For Young Writers - by Elizabeth Winthrop

Advice For Young Authors - by Lian Tanner

Morning Pages: Julia Cameron