Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Opportunities for young writers

I haven't had time to blog recently. I've been too busy actually writing the novel - 8,000 words of the new draft now which doesn't feel too bad. I'm waiting for some feedback from my novel writers' group before I write too much more as I'm still not sure I've got the structure right.

I thought today, I'd just say a word about the importance of writing groups and networking with other writers. Other writers provide essential feedback on material and, I also find writing groups great for giving me inspiration for new work. I'm a member of two writing groups. The old one I've been part of for about ten years and it's become more of a tea, cake and chat group, which is lovely but not always challenging. The other group, I set up recently with fellow novelist Bryony Doran. We're all in the final stages of writing novels and we're all graduates of Sheffield Hallam's MA in Writing. We take it in turns to lead writing exercises and to present a chunk of our work for critical feedback. This can be nerve-wracking and sometimes soul-destroying but it's always constructive and it's so important to know if something is working or not, before submitting it to agents and publishers.

Which leads me on to groups for young writers. I set up the Sheffield Young Writers Workshop about five years ago because I felt young people ought to have the opportunity to be part of writers' communities too. From a small seed, big things have grown and we now have groups in Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster. Other groups I know of are Leeds Young Authors and The Writing Squad, which recruits talented young writers from across Yorkshire. Buxton library are also doing some writing work with young people and I believe New Writing North promote opportunities for young people up in the North-East.

If you're Yorkshire-based, why not have a look at one of these groups or come along to the Young Writers Festival being held in Sheffield on June 19th? You can also find information about a young writers' competition and an anthology of new writing which is being put together. If you don't live in Yorkshire, think about whether you can set up a new writing group in your school or library? Talk to staff there and see what they think. And let me know of any other interesting writing opportunities that you hear about so that we can share them with other people.

In the meantime, join the community of readers and writers on or send me your writing to look at and I'll see if I can help you to hook up with other young writers, as well as giving you some constructive feedback.

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