3 Tips to Help Launch your Writing Career

Your story begins with an idea, an idea that has come from one of your own experiences or someone’s experience that you’ve observed. 

To write your story, you first need to do your homework: read up on writing for children, read other authors’ books in your genre, take courses, go to conferences, join a critique group, etc. Write on a regular schedule and you will learn, through trial and error, what works and what doesn’t work on your road to publication.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? 

Oh, but there’s so much more. My own writing journey is a lot like a discovery I made when I became a Girl Scout leader. I went through the training, read the manual, and prepared myself to do whatever I could for the girls in my troop. 

What I didn’t realize until later was how much the Girl Scouts would do for me! I learned many crafts and how much work goes into making lasting, worthwhile crafts. Our troop spent a lot of time outdoors, and together we acquired a lifelong knowledge of skills and a love of nature. I could go on. The same happened when I started writing: becoming a writer has done so much for me I could fill volumes. 

Here in a nutshell, are the hallmarks of what I have learned.

Tip #1: Decide Where to Begin
When the urge to write takes hold of you, take some time to decide the direction you will take. 
  • Nonfiction is an excellent place to start. You can learn the ropes while finding an easier path to publication than fiction. Editors are always on the lookout for good, solid nonfiction articles.
  • Fiction is a world unto itself and much needs to be learned. Resources abound in your local area and online. Take advantage of them and soon you will be on your way.
  • Exploring your feelings and beliefs, I have found, goes hand-in-hand with your writing journey.

Tip #2: Decide What You Care About
Build your stories around the things you care about the most. You will be doing three things:
  • Bringing out what you’re interested in passing on to the next generation.
  • Giving yourself activities to share during school, library and organization visits.
  • Promoting what you stand for as a person.

Here is my list of what I care about most, and how I’ve strived to incorporate the topics on my list into my stories.
  • Family: Every children’s story is a family story—the type of family determined by you, the author.
  • Friendship: So important in childhood, my stories reflect what being a friend means.
  • Nature and the Outdoors: Much of the setting in my stories takes place outdoors. I strive to make this appear a natural, integral part without giving away my desire to spark an interest in my readers to get outside to play and explore.
  • Athletics and Staying Fit: Lots of running, biking, and sports are in my stories, showing some characters as fit, while showing others struggle who are not so good at athletics.
  • Music: A few references to music are made—really, snuck in.
  • Hobbies: Also shown as an integral part of my stories. Learning the importance of having a hobby is a gift I received from my dad, who had several serious hobbies. I would like to pass on the place a hobby can have in a person’s life.
  • These last two go without saying: Appearance and the Importance of Surrounding Oneself with Positive Friends, snuck in as part of the story.

Tip #3: Sure-Fire Ways to Become a Success
If anyone had told me how much goes into writing for children before I started, I wouldn’t have believed them. I have learned that there are certain qualities that will help you succeed:
  • Desire: Essential to keep going through the ups and downs of your writing journey. I let writing go for a few years to go back to teaching. As soon as I left teaching, BOING, up popped that writing desire, a part of me that I know now will never die.
  • Perseverance: An editor once told me she has observed that the way to succeed in writing is to persevere. The writers she knows who have stuck it out are the ones who get published.
  • Write for Yourself while Thinking of Others: Ask yourself what your reader wants: a good mystery, a story that reflects a need, an exciting adventure. Then write that story for him or her.
  • Above all: Have Fun! Have you ever heard that when you go to a party, if the hostess is having fun, the guests will have fun, too? The fun you have writing your story will electrify your readers and keep them coming back for more.

Image courtesy of: clipart-library.com/clipart/rcnrAGgLi.htm.

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 100 articles for adults and children, and six short stories for children. Recently, she has completed her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, and is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.


Terry Whalin said...


Thank you for this great series of tips for writers. I especially resonated with the one about perseverance. Way too often writers give up before finding the right place to publish--and to find that right place sometimes takes years of effort and consistent knocking on doors until the right one opens. Too many people try once or twice and give up. Don't be one of those people.

Straight Talk From the Editor

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, great tips on getting your writing started. I love the girl scout analogy. And I agree with Terry, perseverance is so important. You've got to keep trying.

Linda Wilson said...

Thanks, Terry, I won't. I think it's good for writers to learn about perseverance in the beginning so as it's been for me, when times get tough, they will remember it and keep going.

Linda Wilson said...

Thanks, Karen. Maybe every endeavor teaches one something. That's why it's good for people to pursue their interests. Those who don't are losing out by not broadening themselves.

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