Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Question and Answer

I received an e-mail from Sydney and thought I would answer it here where it can help other beginning writers as well.

"I am a beginning writer and was wondering if you have any advice for me. I would like to improve my writing and I thought that the only person that could give me good advice was a professional writer. I love your book, Cinder and Ella, and I can't wait until I get to read your newest book, Snow Whyte! I LOVE to read and I enjoy writing so much. I am only in 7th grade but my creative writing teacher says I've got potential."

I do have some thoughts on this subject, Sydney, and I'm glad you chose to send me an e-mail and ask.

First of all, I can see that you already have a few things in your favor:

  • You have guts. And courage. You took the time to e-mail an author you are interested in. When you get a little further down the road, and are ready to query agents and publishers, that is exactly what you need. Never lose it!
  • You have a teacher who believes in you. This is really cool. In the future, you may have a teacher who feels it is more important to criticize rather than encourage. Never forget that teacher who saw your potential.
  • You LOVE to read. This prepares you to be a fabulous writer. I can't say enough how awesome and important this detail is.
  • You enjoy writing, which is huge. Writing is a tough business and if you don't like it, it won't work out.

Now for the advice.

  • Practice. Use every opportunity you have to improve your writing. Take creative writing classes. Listen to the constructive feedback of your teachers and peers. Journal. And I'm not talking about "Today I ate a hot dog for lunch." Use writing in your journal to practice description. "I bit into a hot dog dripping with grease and splattered ketchup onto my khaki pants." Use your journal to practice emotion. "A heap of worry sunk deep into my chest as mom told me my dog had gone missing." Practice. Practice. Practice.
  • Enter contests. I wish I had some to recommend, but I don't. Keep your eye open for them and ask your teachers if they know of any.
  • Check out This is a website specifically designed to encourage and challenge young writers. Every November, Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) hosts a challenge to write a book in a month.
  • Keep Track of your ideas in a notebook. The perfect time to write a story may not be right away, but in the future. If you don't have it written down, it may elude you. Write down story ideas, characters and their personalities, and settings that come to you. I also like to record vivid dreams that I think could make a story someday.
  • Believe in yourself. Writing can be discouraging. It can be frustrating. It can make you crazy. But don't give up. Believe in your dream to become a writer.
  • Be Well-Rounded. Writers have to describe a lot of different kinds of people and places. Learn about these by observing the world around you. Try different things. If you travel, pay attention to every detail. People watch. As you get older and prepare for college, keep in mind that becoming a writer often takes a long time. Be ready to work in another field for a time until your career takes off. I can't tell you how glad I am that I know how to teach people to play the piano. Learn all you can. Writing is one of the careers where you can use absolutely anything you learn.
  • Learn. You can do this by attending conferences. Some conferences have age limits, but some don't. I think I've even heard of some that are specifically for young people. If this isn't your style or isn't in the budget, you can learn so much by reading writing blogs and websites. Write on Con is a good one. Pay attention in your English and writing classes as well. :)

Sydney, I hope this helps! If you're a young writer, keep writing! If you know a young writer, give them some encouragement and show them you believe in them.

If you have any more advice for young writers, please leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving the info for all to see! I'm only in sixth grade and every term we have to do three writing reports and sometimes reports for social studies and this will surely help me next term and in 7th grade. Thank you so much for the advice... writing has always be something that I love a lot! I can't wait to use your advice! Thanks a million Melissa!

Melissa Lemon said...

You're welcome. Glad it helped. Keep writing!