What Should I Tell Them?

img_2467[1].jpgA few weeks ago, I was contacted by a teacher at a local high school and asked if I would give a presentation to a group of students who love writing. I jumped at the opportunity because I strongly believe in encouraging young writers.

After the initial invitation, it turns out that I will now be giving four workshops for an entire day, which is evening more thrilling. As I prepare my notes, though, I find myself asking a key question. What should I tell them?

With over 35 years of writing and publishing experience, plenty of ups and downs, and a pretty good grasp of the challenges facing new writers, it would be far too easy to lapse into the disappointments and horror stories that many writers have endured. On the other hand, I don’t want to mislead the students into thinking that it’s all wonderful and profitable. Somehow, I’ve got to find the middle ground. The obvious strategy is to be candid and as positive as I can, but also realistic.

For the most part, I’ll be focusing on the nuts and bolts of writing and editing. Two groups will be spent discussing character development. The other two will concentrate on plotting, point of view, dialogue, themes, tense, and so forth.

At my request, I was sent a list of questions that the students have compiled, which includes getting published and making money, as well as dealing with writers’ block, making time to write, inspiration, and career choices. I hope I can give a well-rounded viewpoint in what is often a crazy frustrating business. But really, the day is all about writing and learning to express ourselves in the most meaningful way possible for each individual. Maybe I should lead with that.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and security work inspired me to write the Casey Holland transit security novels set in Metro Vancouver. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at dpurdykong@gmail.com

11 thoughts on “What Should I Tell Them?”

  1. Having taught high school English and creative writing locally for several years, my advice is this. Don’t teach them about writing. They have been getting the rules for as long as they’ve been in the system. Talk about all the other stuff. The stuff they won’t know. Focus on their questions and tell stories about your experience and leave lots of time for Q&A. Talk about writing groups, conferences, networking, read-alouds, reviews, self-publishing vs traditional publishing, etc. Give them lots of links and be sure to send them to SiWC next October.

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  2. I like Wendy’s comment about networking. It’s been one of the really big surprises for me in indie-publishing – writers are incredibly generous with their time and sharing their experiences. It’s where I go for support, information and advice. And whether they lean toward tradition or indie, I’d encourage them to learn the business so they recognize when important changes open opportunities for their careers.

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  3. Read anything….read everything. If it excites you now, it will excite you later.
    Write anything…save everything…. You never write with the same abandon and creativity that you do when young, and what is done now will shape the writer you may choose to become!
    And never, EVER let anyone tell you that you cannot be a writer. It may not happen the way you plan, but writers are born, and then revised!

    Liked by 1 person

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