Becoming a Professional,

A Guide for Young Writers

Becoming a writer is a lot like becoming a hockey player or a musician. It takes dedication and long hours of concentration. But if you love what you're doing, it won't seem like work. If you want to become a writer, here are some suggestions that will help.

Develop Your Skills

Read, Read,Read

The single thing most important thing you can do is something you probably love to do anyway--read. Good writers are always good readers. Ask your teachers and librarians for recommendations. Share books with your friends who like to read. And read everything you can get your hands on, not just fiction. Sometimes when I'm judging competitions, I can see how young writers have limited themselves by only reading one kind of book. Non-fiction can give you great story ideas.

Books about Writing

It's important to keep developing your writing skills. There are some excellent books for young writers to help do this. Write Now , by Karleen Bradford is published by Scholastic. It's a short, funny, straightforward writing guide that is really worth having. The Young Writer's Companion by Sara Ellis, published by Groundwood. It's a different kind of book, a workbook that includes space for you to write about different suggested topics. Both should be available at good book stores, especially book stores specializing in children's books.

Especially for Poets

If you like poetry, there's a new web site designed for young poets. Visit the League of Canadian Poets Young Poets Web Site

Web-zine for Young Authors 

KidsWWrite is a monthly internet magazine that publishes poems and stories by writers 16 and younger. This web-zine is run by the Kalamalka Institute for Working Writers, part of the Okanagan University College in British Columbia. Visit KidsWWrite to find out more. There are limits on the amount of work you can submit. To see guidelines for contributors, visit the Submitting Your Writing page.

There's more information about submission guidelines under "Getting Published" below.

A Great Page for Young Writers 

Wordwrights Canada 's  Writing Resources for Students is a fabulous resource with all kinds of information and links. This expanded page has writing advice, excellent guidelines for submitting work to competitions, and loads of links.



Be careful of competitions. Lots of competitions aimed at young writers are really just scams designed to sell copies of the published book. Wordwrights Canada maintains an updated list of legitimate competitions for young writers in Canada on their Writing Resources for Students page.  Go to this page and click on "contests." 

If you have a question about competitions, call your provincial writers' organization.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Competition

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador can enter the provincial Arts and Letters Competition.

Junior divisions, for writers 12 to 18, include short story, non-fiction, dramatic script and poetry divisions. There is a spring deadline each year.  This competition is open to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador only, there is no entry fee and every entry will receive some feedback from a professional writer. For more information visit the Arts and Letters Competition web page. You can download entry forms in pdf format from this site.

Getting Published


It isn't realistic to expect to have a book accepted for publication if you are a young writer, but that doesn't mean you can't try to publish your work. The Claremont Review  provides a forum for young writers to publish their work.

How To Submit Your Work

Have a look at the magazine or write for "Submission Guidelines." Most magazines will only accept pieces of a limited length, and limit the number of pieces you may submit at one time.  Following the submission guidelines will increase chances of having your work accepted.

Never send your only copy of anything away. Always keep a copy. If you wish your work to be  returned, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope (called a SASE). These magazines receive much more work than they can possibly publish. Don't be discouraged by rejection slips. Every writer gets them. Just enjoy yourself and keep writing.

The Claremont Review

Publishes original poetry, short stories, and one-act plays by writers ages 13-19. Check out the Claremont Review web site for contests, more information and detailed submission guidelines or write to:
The Claremont Review
4980 Wesley Rd.
Victoria, BC
V8Y 1Y9

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