Young writer: You’re probably here because you want to know more about the craft from a local perspective, from your fellow young Alberta writers. We’re happy to say you’re in the right place, and eager to introduce you to Young Writers’ Week! An initiative of The WGA’s Youth committee, this week runs from March 16-20, and is full of information and insight—and it’s all online, right here and on our Facebook page.
Stay tuned to this blog and you’re bound for tips and insights into the writing world; we promise to post a blog from your fellow young writers every day until the end of Young Writers’ Week. These young writers have much to say, and their blog posts will be followed by writing challenges that will inspire, teach, and test you. Best of all, the week will culminate with our Ask an Expert session, where a panel of experienced Alberta writers will be keen to address your questions in real-time, online! Check our Facebook page for more details.
Here’s your first foray into Young Writers’ Week—a look at the incredible folks who made this unique Alberta event into a reality (and they’re even willing to share some tips to get you started):
Tips, Tricks, and (Writing) Treats from the WGA’s Youth Committee
My tip for young writers is to keep a notebook with you at all times so that you can jot down ideas as soon as and wherever they come to you. As well, having a notebook on hand will give you a place to constantly practice writing, whether you have five minutes or five hours, in all its forms including poetry, essays, short stories, and fiction. Just by writing your ideas and inspirations in a notebook, you will find that your writing will improve and become stronger over time, too.
Barbori Garnet is a Calgary-based writer whose work has been published in the Calgary Metro newspaper and the Polar Expressions Short Story and Poetry anthologies. She has an MA in Communications degree and is the Youth Representative on the WGA’s board of directors. Feel free to visit her on her website at BarboriGarnet.com.
I’m Rena. When I’m not writing for kids, I’m writing as part of my day job as a museum manager. The thing about writing for kids is I get to create books that will hopefully nurture a love of reading. I get to do it in 500 words or less (standard picture book), or in 8 to 10 quick chapters (chapter books for ages 6-9), or in 25 000 to 70 000 words for older kids/teens. In those pages, I must capture the reader’s attention (sometimes over and over again), in some cases leave room for the illustrator, entertain them, and never ever talk down to them. Challenge accepted!
Tip: The writing business can be tough, so find yourself a critique partner or group that you can turn to (this can be online or off). A good critique partner will push you to be a better writer and may even be the thing that talks you out of quitting (my critique partners are the best thing since, well books; and I’ve never met them in person)!
Rena Traxel is a kidlit writer and museum nerd. She lives in rural Alberta with a house full of pets and dreams that touch the moon. Check her out at renatraxel.com.
I’m Tyler Gajda. I always have trouble figuring out how to start my writing. It’s hard to know what those first words should be. But I’ve learned that the most important habit to get into is to write first and fix it later. It’s hard when you’re not sure where you’re going or what to write, but even then, write first. Even if it’s not good. Especially if it’s not good. When it’s on the page, you can see what’s wrong and fix it. It’ll never be perfect in your head, so write it down and fix it later. Write, rewrite, fiddle with what you’ve made until you can no longer see anything wrong with it. Then, keep going. Give yourself the opportunity to improve. Write first.
Tyler Gajda is an Edmonton-based writer and activist who is dedicated to making cool things happen. Tyler writes a little bit of everything, from poetry to plays to music, and is currently working on a fantasy novel.
Akosua Dufie Adasi
Hi, I’m Akosua Dufie Adasi. When it comes to writing the most difficult part (at least for me) is actually starting. So when I have an idea, or if a sentence or word pops into my head, I write it down in my phone or whatever I can get my hands on. I work at Starbucks and when it gets very boring I make up stories and write them on receipts or pastry bags. Part of the reason why I love writing is because I love words, sometimes a word pops into my head and I have to analyze it and sound it out until it feels foreign. I don’t adhere to the rules of grammar, mostly because I’m terrible at grammar and also because sometimes it gets in my way. I think what makes a good writer is a person who loves to read and is curious about everything. Finally, I also suggest getting a journal, you don’t have to write stories or poems everyday, but writing about mundane things helps you get started.
Akosua is currently a member of the WGA youth committee. As of last April she has been studying Comparative Literature and Art History at the University of Alberta. She is also exploring science fiction as literary/cultural phenomena.
Great storytellers have a way of making you feel like their world is real. When thinking about writing and ways to be better at it, try and identify with the qualities you think your favourite authors exude. They have been able to capture your attention and hold you in their world. At the same time, write for yourself and not in homage to your greats.
Nicole Liesner has had the opportunity to work with many emerging writers in Alberta through the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and Glass Buffalo Literary Magazine. She is a proud University of Alberta Alumna having graduated in 2014 with a cooperative degree in English and Creative Writing. She currently works for the City of St. Albert in Economic Development.
My name is Fran Kimmel and I’m delighted to serve as the chair of the WGA Youth Committee. While I’ve taken a stab at most types of writing, my favourite form is the short story for how well it lends itself to capturing a moment. My best writing advice is to read voraciously. Studying your favourite writers and their choices, word by word, helps you discover what you want to do with your own blank page.
Fran Kimmel is a writer based in Lacombe. Her short stories have been published widely and her novel, The Shore Girl, won the 2013 Alberta Readers’ Choice Award.
Let us know what you think about Young Writers’ Week in the comments or on our Facebook page!