I was invited into my son’s fifth grade English Language Arts class (and a second ELA class) to speak about the writing life and the publication process. I typed up a list of writing tips to hand out. I’ve copied and pasted it here, because I realized that although it’s geared toward fifth graders, I think these tips are useful for any age…
~ Always use proper grammar. Know the difference between your and you’re. Know the difference between there, their, and they’re and know when to use each one. Definitely know when to use whom rather than who (when the person you’re speaking about is the object of the sentence, not the subject – for example, “Whom was she with speaking on the phone?” Here’s one more – know when to use nor. Nor connects two negative verbs – you use it instead of or. Whether you’re a writer or not – you’ll always sound smart if you do these things.
~ Write what you know, but make sure to change the names (and any characteristics).
~Or, make everything up – that’s good too.
~If you want to be a writer, write every day.
~If you want to be a writer, read as much as you can. Being a voracious (that means reading A LOT!) reader makes you a better writer.
~Have someone else read what you’ve written before handing it in to a teacher or publishing it. It’s hard to catch all of your own mistakes. Typos and even grammar errors are best caught by someone with fresh eyes.
~Pay attention to all the people around you and imagine where they’re coming from and where they’re going. Sometimes you can come up with a story just by glancing at the person next to you in a waiting room or on the supermarket line.
~Write down your dreams if you remember them. Sometimes they can spark a good story.
~Cut out pictures from newspapers and magazines and write stories about the pictures.
~Most importantly, have fun! Writing stories is a great creative outlet and a fun way to use your imagination. You don’t have to be a published writer for your words to have meaning and give you and others enjoyment. Write down stories to tell your families and friends.