Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor

Starting Out:
A Guide for Young Writers

by Victoria Hastings
©2004, Victoria Hastings

So, you want to be a writer. You love to write. You love the sense of freedom it gives you, and you want to publish a book. But there's one problem: you're too young. Or, at least, that's what you think.

Actually, you're wrong. You're never too young to become a writer. In fact, you may already be a writer. The definition of "writer" is: "one who writes." Do you write? If so, then you're already a writer!

Then, of course, there is the difficulty of trying to get published. It's hard being a kid, huh? Don't think anyone will take you seriously, do you? If so, think again. I'm not saying this will be easy, because it won't be. But if you set your mind to it, you most definitely can get published.

My first time being published was in a newspaper that bought stories about the outdoors. My mom helped me research what the paper was looking for, and after reading all the guidelines, I wrote it, sent it in, and voilą! I got a $50 check in the mail, and I was only in 5th grade. You may think I was just lucky, but that's not the way it works.

You see, the reason I was published was because I did some research. You have to also. Find out what kind of stories and articles different newspapers or magazines publish. When you find one in particular that you like, look over the guidelines, follow them, and try submitting. I can't guarantee you'll get accepted, but you won't know unless you try.

I sent in a poem to the very same newspaper that had accepted me before, but they rejected it. The thing is, I was okay with that. You have to accept rejection, because you may get rejected 10 times before someone decides to publish your piece. That's just the way it works.

Another way to get published is online. Although you may not get paid for your writing, your work is still being published, and it's something you can put on your records in some cases.

You can also get published with the help of your school. My school had information on a state-wide writing contest. I checked it out, and entered two pieces. One piece was chosen as an honorable mention. The other wasn't, but when I sent the rejected piece into a different contest, it was. You just have to pick yourself up off the ground, and try again.

Many schools also offer to publish students' work in local newspapers. If yours offers, jump at the chance. Although you aren't getting paid, your work is still being sent out so all can read it. It's just as big a deal as having a book on the shelves when you truly think about it. 

The important thing to remember is to never give up. Don't ever think that because you're only 11 you can't be published. Publication of young writers' stories can be, and has been, done. Do your research and go for it. You won't lose anything, and you may gain something. How will you know until you try?