Here’s some steps to help get you started.
Step 1: Pray. Do you feel called to write? Ask yourself, is writing just a hobby or do I want to make it a career? What would you like to write? Flash Fiction, Short stories, Essays (non-fiction stories), devotionals, screenplays, novels, instructional manuals, children’s books? Each has their own format and set of standards. Which leads us to..
Step 2: Learn your craft.
- Read books on writing, in general and in your the areas you want to write. Here a couple of my favorites:
- Follow writer blogs. Some that I recommend are:
- Take on-line classes. There are a number of good ones out there in all ranges of prices.
- Fiction Fundamentals Mentorship Course. Katie Phillips, author and writing coach, has developed an 8-week course for writers. Two different levels, one for beginners and another for those wanting to develop their story. Great for homeschoolers. $$
- Creative Writing for Teens. Can be used for high school credit.(I have no personal experience with this class, but it was recommended to me by others in the industry). $$
- Attend a writer’s conference. These are great places to meet with people in the industry and hang with other like-minded individuals (your tribe). Many conferences have classes specifically for teens. Here are some I recommend.
- Realm Makers. Mid July, locations vary. Four day conference for people writing speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, medieval, spiritual, anything weird). Teen track. Organized by Christians, but not just for Christians. $$$
- Write to Publish. Mid June, Wheaton, IL. Four day conference. For anyone writing (fiction or non-fiction) who is interested in learning more and getting published. No teen track. $$$
- Taylor University Professional Writing Conference. Early August, Taylor University, Upland, Indiana. This one and half day conference is the perfect way to get a crash course in the ins and outs of the writing and publishing industry and has a teen track specifically for students 16-19. $$
- Florida Christian Writer’s Conference. Late February. Four days. Teen track. $$$
- Northwestern Christian Writers Conference. Mid-July, Northwestern University, St. Paul, MN. One day. In 2017, they had a teen track, however, it’s a wait and see if they’ll offer it again. $
- Local conferences. Search your area to find one. Most of these won’t have specific teen classes, but it will help you start to network. To get to know people in the business and get a chance to learn from them.
- The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) have local chapters throughout the United States. Though there is a yearly membership, those fees include access to their online support group and online classes throughout the year.
- Considering Colleges? Check out Taylor University. They have a Professional Writing major/minor. Learn from industry experts. Students will begin submitting to publications within the first semester.
Step 4. WRITE. READ. REPEAT DAILY. Good writers write. Great writers read. In all genres, but especially in the areas you want to write.
Step 5. Have your work reviewed/edited by a professional. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Ask your English teacher, or hire a college student majoring in English. Don’t rely on just what you’ve learned in high school. The more you learn, the better you can edit your own work, but even a New York Times best-selling author has an editor go through their work (usually several times) before the manuscript is published.
Step 6. Submit. Don’t let your age or your lack of experience intimidate you. Start small. Submit to on-line publications. Many are open to new writers for copy. Though most don’t pay, at least you’ll be getting a start.
Not sure where to submit? I recommend The Christian Writer’s Market Guide. It is an exhaustive list of publishers and editors in both fiction and non-fiction, and their submission guidelines.
- Familiarize yourself with the publication.
- Learn the publishing guidelines and follow them EXACTLY.
- Have your article/story edited by a teacher or someone who knows how to edit.
Here are a few places I recommend to get you started.
- HAVOK Publishing. HAVOK Publishing is an on-line e-zine where everyone gets free flash fiction every weekday and members of the Havok Horde can access the archives, rate the stories, and contend for reader prizes.
- Speculative Fiction Publishers – a list of several magazines who publish speculative fiction stories. Though the deadlines listed in the article might have passed, there are links to the magazine’s submission page and other details.
Not sure where you are in this process, have a question or want more detailed guidance? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to answer any specific questions.
“When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape.” ~Louise Erdrich