Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published three novels: Head Case, Beyond Lucky, and Believe. Titles forthcoming include her first nonfiction picture book, Just Like Rube Goldberg (Beach Lane Books, TBD) and a new young MG series about the worst fairy godmother ever, The Wish List (Scholastic, 2017). When Sarah is not writing or reading (or cooking or riding her bike), she is talking to readers about creativity, writing, and of course, sparkle power! She loves working with other writers in one of her classes at Writers on the Net (www.writers.com ) or the amazing Highlights Foundation. She is also the cofounder and organizer of the Writing Novels for Young People Retreat at VCFA, now approaching its fifteenth year. She has served as an SCBWI mentor in both Illinois and Michigan. She overuses exclamation points. When she’s excited, she talks with her hands.
Be willing to play, explore & draw!
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1 – Say it out loud: I am a writer.
The world needs stories. You are one of the very brave people who is willing to share yours with others. The trick is: finding the best way to tell your story. This process takes time and patience. It takes hard work. By recognizing out loud that you are a writer, you give yourself validation that you are doing important, honorable work.
2 – Read! Read A lot!
Read in your genre. Read outside your genre. Read for kids and grown-ups. Read the newspaper. Read plays. Read poetry. Every time you read something you love, study it. Figure out what makes it work. Analyze the power of the right word in the right place. Keep an annotated bibliography. Understand what makes a book work for the kinds of readers you want to write for.
3 – Banish Self Doubt!
Ask questions of the text, the characters, and their motivation, but do not question your intent or abilities. Sit down in the chair and write. Good or bad — this is the job of the writer. It is a skill and a gift and a process. Your goal is to get a little bit done each day.
4 – Keep a Journal.
Although each book offers its own ups and downs, by keeping a journal you will become aware of your own needs as you learn to write. For example: I know that I get my best ideas walking first thing in the morning. . . without my ipod. And that I always have a ‘crisis of story’ at about page 70. I have learned that I need to keep a notebook of interesting observations — or else I forget what they are!
Looking back through my journals, I can see that I have grown as a writer. I still try everything, but I no longer obsess over a new beginning. And I like revising a whole lot more than I used to.