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.
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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?