Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Build Your Own Writing Education in 5 Steps (Plus a giveaway!)



Tessa Emily Hall spent her teen years writing about an imaginary girl whose life was far more interesting than her own. This resulted in PURPLE MOON (LPC), a 2014 Selah finalist. Her work has been published in various magazines, including Devozine, Guide Magazine, and Temperance Magazine. She also enjoys making homemade lattes, cuddling with her Teacup Shih-Tzu, and acting in Christian films. Tessa’s passionate about writing inspirational yet authentic YA fiction and encouraging teens to pursue their passions. You can find her on her website, blog, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.


I began my writing journey when I was fifteen years old.

No, my book wasn’t published then. In fact, I was just beginning to write the first draft of what would become my first debut novel, Purple Moon.

But it was then that I decided I wanted to pursue writing as a career. I didn’t want to have to wait until after I graduated high school before I began to study the craft of writing.

I knew I would have to write a book if I wanted to become an author. But more than that—I would have to write a book that didn’t scream “amateur” or “teen writer”.

The only way I could accomplish this? By studying the basic fundamentals of creative writing.

That was almost seven years ago. If it wasn’t for the education I “built” for myself in this area, I would not be the writer I am today, nor would I have had a book published.

Nowadays, you don’t necessarily need a college degree to become a published author (although it certainly doesn’t hurt!). You can start now preparing for your writing career by building your own creative writing education.



Here’s how you can do this in five easy steps:

1)      Read books on the writing craft

When I was a teen, I was just as excited to buy a new book on the craft as I was to buy a YA novel. I would spend hours reading, highlighting, and taking notes on what I learned.

But simply reading a book on the craft wasn’t enough: I had to put into practice what I learned. I wrote the first draft of Purple Moon, then spent even longer on the edits and revisions, applying what I learned.



2)      Attend conferences and workshops

Writing conferences are pretty much a vacation to me. What can be better than spending a week with other writers, drinking coffee throughout the day, meeting authors and industry professionals, and taking classes that will enrich your writing?

Unfortunately, conferences can become pretty costly at times. If you do not have a manuscript that’s ready to pitch to professionals, I suggest saving your money and attend a conference when you’re ready. In the meantime, try to find a nearby two-day conference or a workshop to attend.


3)      Listen to podcasts and watch video tutorials

The great thing about audio learning is that you can listen to podcasts as you drive, work out, or in the evenings when most of your friends are watching TV.

Try to find podcasts and videos that not only teach about writing, but keep you updated on the publishing industry as well.

Here is a list of my favorites:



4)      Enroll in online courses

When I was a teen, I enrolled in two creative writing courses: One that was taught through my online school, and the other through Christian Writers Guild.

If your school doesn’t offer a creative writing class, no worries! Fortunately, there are plenty of classes you can enroll in online.

I offer a 3-month creative writing mentorship program and course specifically for teens. In this program, I cover the art of storytelling, craft of writing, as well as the publishing aspect of the industry. You can find out more info on Write Now by clicking here.

My agent, Sally Apokedak, teaches two online classes on the craft as well. Stick around to the end of this post for your chance to win a coupon to one of her classes!


5)      Visit blogs on the writing craft

When I was a teen, one way I grew as a writer was by visiting multiple writing-related blogs and learning the basics of creative writing. Not only did this help to grow my craft, but it helped me to become familiar with the professionals in the industry as well.

Of course, if you’re reading this blog and are apart of the Go Teen Writers community, then you’re definitely on the right track!

Here is a list of more writing-related blogs. You might also be interested in checking out my column for teen writers, Dear Young Scribes, over at AlmostAnAuthor.com.

~ ~ ~

As you study about the craft of writing, be sure to learn about the ins and outs of the industry as well.

By doing this, not only are you preparing for your future career as an author (if you choose to take that path), but you’re also “testing the waters”. In other words, you have the chance to gain more of an understanding of what it’s like to be an author. This should help you make more of an education decision about whether or not this is the career you would like to pursue. =)  

However, make sure that the time you invest studying never overshadows the time you spend writing. Because even though I believe every writer should continue to grow in their craft—ultimately, the best way to learn how to write a book is simply by writing.

Now it’s time for a giveaway!

My agent, Sally Apokedak, is giving away two coupons for her online courses: Writing Fiction That Sings and Punctuate With Confidence. One winner will be selected per course.

** The only thing she asks is that the winners leave a review on the class after you take the course. Please only enter if you are willing to do so.




What are your favorite books and blogs on the writing craft? Have you already begun the process of building your own writing education, and if so, how have you grown as a writer?

47 comments:

  1. I've done most of the things on this list, but I've never watched a video tutorial. I'll have to try it out sometime! Also, thanks for the amazing list of resources on your website. Thanks for stopping by GTW!

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    1. Hi, Linea! Video tutorials are fairly new for me as well. It's nice to have an alternative to reading blogs occasionally. =)

      Thanks for your comment!

      Tessa

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  2. Thanks for this post, Tessa! I've read your other posts on Christ is Write and AlmostAnAuthor and really liked your advice. (as well as your writing) I'm not quite sure if I want to pursue writing as much as I thought I did, but I hope to find out soon.
    ~Sarah

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Sarah! One thing I love about writing is the freedom it offers to pursue writing at your own pace. For instance, you can begin your writing journey at 16--or at 60. Several authors go to college and pursue another job for a decade or two before they decide to write. In other words, there's no pressure to make a final decision yet! And if you decide not to pursue writing, then you can always change your mind down the road. =)

      Tessa

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  3. Go Teen Writers was the first writing blog I ever read, and it's still my favorite. I didn't feel overwhelmed when I came here, only inspired. I also like She's Novel. :) Also, I love these steps! Thanks!
    -hg

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    1. I’ve learned so much about the writing craft from Go Teen Writers over the years as well. I love that they’ve built a community to encourage and support teen writers along their writing journey. She’s Novel is great, too! =)

      Thanks for commenting!

      Tessa

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  4. Thanks for those great links! Look forward to checking them out when I get the chance. :)

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  5. Thanks for this post! :) I really like Bird by Bird and the GTW book.

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  6. I mostly only read blogs because I have a short attention span when it comes to anything that isn't fiction. The only writing book I've read all the way through is the Fiction Writer's Guide.

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  7. In addition to this blog (which is awesome btw) I'm a huge fan of Jenna Moreci. Her YouTube videos are hilarious and informative, and her blog is fun to read. As for books, I have too many favorites to list here. :)

    I've been building my writing education since I was a teenager, and I continue to pursue it every day. You're never too old to learn! :)

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    1. I agree! =) I've never heard of Jenna Moreci, so I'll have to check out her videos. Thanks!

      Tessa

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  8. My favourite books on writing are the 'go-teen-writers' book and 'so you want to be a writer' book. This is the first writers blog I have ever followed, (and my favourite) but occasionally I search up different writing things on Google and it comes up with posts from other cool blogs.

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  9. Great bunch of links! I'll have to take the time to read them all!

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  10. I love the book Fast Fiction by Denise Jaden, and the blog Gossiping with Dragons for writing advice. I also really like the blog 'She's Novel', as well as this one of course!

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    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I love She's Novel blog as well. =)

      Tessa

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  11. Thanks for sharing with us! One of my favorite writing craft books is Plot and Structure by James Scoot Bell. I recently was helped by 45 Master Characters by Victoria Schmidt.

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    1. I learned so much about plot from his book as well! I'd love to check out the one on characters, too. So far, my favorite craft book on characters has been "Getting Into Character" by Brandilyn Collins.

      Tessa

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  12. So, are these coupons for getting the courses free, or is it just a percentage off?

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    1. Yes, the coupons can be used to take the course for free. Sorry, I meant to include the links to the courses as well.

      Here you go:

      Writing Fiction That Sings - https://www.udemy.com/narrative-voice-for-novelists/
      Punctuation - https://www.udemy.com/punctuation-english-american/

      Tessa

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  13. This is another amazing blog just for what I need!!!!! Thank you so much, Tessa Emily Hall!

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  14. Thank you for the links, looking forward to viewing them all.

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    1. BTW The Kill Zone and Write from the Middle both by James Scott Bell are some of my favorites.

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    2. No problem! I heard about "Write From the Middle" from the last conference I attended. I'll have to look into that! I love any craft book by James Scott Bell. Thanks for the recommendations. =)

      Tessa

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  15. I'm the exact same way! I love getting new writing books on the craft, and I spend hours reading them again and again :)

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    1. Same here! I still have the notebook I used to write down notes I took from craft books when I was a teen. I wouldn't be the writer I am today without them!

      Tessa

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  16. Thank you! I will have to check out the writing books on your website. I've been looking for a good one. :)

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  17. Loved having you on the blog, Tessa! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

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    1. Thanks so much for having me, Stephanie! =)

      Tessa

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  18. This was pretty much exactly what I needed today :)
    Due to not having enough money I won't be doing choir this semester like I have the past three. I decided to spend the two hours I usually spend at choir on working on my book instead!

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  19. GTW is basically my go-to source for writing advice, but I also like my library. It's easy to do research, and I know that the librarians will help me out.

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  20. I love checking out books from the library and visiting blogs about writing. One that has inspired me specifically is Conflict & Suspense by James Scott Bell. I also love this site. Of course. :)

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  21. All the old school textbooks lying around here re great of course. And I love libraries. ;) As far as blogs go...go teen writers or the write conversation. :)

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  22. Blogs are pretty much all the writing resources that I use. xP I use writing prompts fairly frequently, read writing articles, and occasionally participate in contests.
    I also read quite a bit, and that seems like the best way to get better at writing—read a lot, and write even more. xP

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  23. I use this blog, Plots and Blots, She's Novel, and Kami Garcia's blog.

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  24. This is an awesome post! I was hoping something like this would come up someday. :)

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  25. I love She's Novel, Go Teen Writers, Write the World, and Writerology. I also have read the Go Teen Writers book (which is by far the best source out there for teen writers) and Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine.

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  26. Thank you so much for all these helpful links! I feel like I can never have enough writing resources. Some of my favorite books are The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke, Go Teen Writers, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Of course I read several blogs so those are also helpful!

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  27. Cool post! I'm actually going to the YoungArts writing workshop this spring, and I am SO EXCITED!


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbositybookreviews.wordpress.com

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  28. I don't follow too many writing blogs, but I enjoy this blog. Bird by Bird is top of my list, so hopefully I'll get to it shortly.

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  29. I need to get more books on the craft. I like what I've read of Go Teen Writers (the book) and Storyworld First. My favorite writing blog is, of course, this one. :)

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  30. I honestly haven't read too many books on writing, but one of my favorites so far is Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell. My favorite writing blogs are (of course) this one and Fiction University.

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  31. I honestly haven't read too many books on writing, but one of my favorites so far is Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell. My favorite writing blogs are (of course) this one and Fiction University.

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  32. I've learned a lot from this site, the Go Teen Writer's book, Fiction University, and the podcast Writing Excuses

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