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My 11 year old daughter wants to be an author? What should I do?

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#1 Lopsided

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 12:59 AM

My eleven years old daughter has always wanted to be an author ever since she was six. I've been told that she has a talent with words from school teachers, and I encourage her fully, but I worry about her adult life.

I know it's hard to be known and really earn much as an author. I've told her this, and she understands, though she still has that determination - she's a very stubborn child who likes to pursue her dreams. Every time someone asks her what she wants to be when she grows up, her answer's always the same - I want to be an author.

She understands that she probably won't get to the bestselling degree and should probably find another job that would give her financial security when she grows older, and we've discussed this, but she doesn't have another interest in mind. I worry she she will 'put all her eggs in one basket'.

What should I do? Should I do all I can to encourage her with her writing, or should I try to guide her into finding another subject that interests her, so that she would be able to have another job as well as being a part-time writer? If I'm going to try to encourage her, what are some good practices to improve her skills?

**She said that if she has to choose another job, she would want to be an editor or an english teacher/tutor. These all require great grammar and english skills. What should I do to help?


Oh, and I'll try to find a sample of her writing to post to discuss what she needs to improve on. That'll be quite hard, as she's pretty aggressive and private when it comes to her writing. I'm sure I can convince her to give a copy, though, if I tell her it'll help her improve with her skills.

Edited by Lopsided, 17 October 2012 - 01:36 AM.


#2 Lopsided

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 01:26 AM

... And I was wondering, would writing workshops be a good idea?

Edited by Lopsided, 17 October 2012 - 01:35 AM.


#3 IsabelC

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 02:13 AM

I'd encourage her to begin submitting her writing for publication now, to give her experience with pitching her work for a specific publication/purpose. She might start with her own blog, or a speech to be given at a big family occasion, or writing an article for a home ed newsletter, or perhaps she could enter some essay competitions. You might like to let her participate in NaNoWriMo, as this would give her a feeling for what it's like to write a substantial amount of words to a deadline (there is a special 'young writers' version) .

It sounds like you're naturally concerned about her ability to earn a living later on, and you want to be sure that she doesn't have a romantic or unrealistic idea of being a writer. But since she is only 11, I'd fully support her to pursue her dream. At this age, she can focus on her writing for a few years and still have plenty of time to take up something else if writing doesn't work out so well. Even if she takes longer to realize that it's not what she wants to do full time, it's not the end of the world. And who knows, maybe she will pen that bestseller that will set her up for life!

Edited by Hotdrink, 17 October 2012 - 03:47 PM.


#4 Lopsided

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 03:09 AM

I'd encourage her to being submitting her writing for publication now, to give her experience with pitching her work for a specific publication/purpose. She might start with her own blog, or a speech to be given at a big family occasion, or writing an article for a home ed newsletter, or perhaps she could enter some essay competitions. You might like to let her participate in NaNoWriMo, as this would give her a feeling for what it's like to write a substantial amount of words to a deadline (there is a special 'young writers' version) .

It sounds like you're naturally concerned about her ability to earn a living later on, and you want to be sure that she doesn't have a romantic or unrealistic idea of being a writer. But since she is only 11, I'd fully support her to pursue her dream. At this age, she can focus on her writing for a few years and still have plenty of time to take up something else if writing doesn't work out so well. Even if she takes longer to realize that it's not what she wants to do full time, it's not the end of the world. And who knows, maybe she will pen that bestseller that will set her up for life!



Thank you. I wonder, however, what having a romantic or unrealistic idea of being a writer means? I myself never had much interest in literature (I have no experience in that direction) so I'm not sure what would count as being unrealistic or romantic with writing. My daughter doesn't believe that she will immediately become a famous or bestselling author, but she does have some pretty high standards. Will that affect her strongly? To what degree?

And how do you have a romantic idea of writing? Isn't she too young to be dealing with romance? Yes, she does read romance genred books, but only mild ones. Should I restrain that? I remember reading romance books as a kid, and I don't remember it affecting me much. Is it different when you're writing?

Thanks, and I'll definitely suggest that she participate in National Novel Writing Month. I hope this doesn't affect her schoolwork, though.

Edited by Lopsided, 17 October 2012 - 03:14 AM.


#5 Harriet Vane

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 08:27 AM

Former editor here . . .

The first, best thing to do is write a LOT. It needs to be approached as a discipline. Even if the inspiration isn't flowing, she should be writing to keep those mental muscles strong. The 10,000 hours principle really does apply here.

Entering contests is also a great idea, though she should be prepared not to win and often not to receive feedback. It's still a good exercise, though, because of the practice in writing within certain boundaries, dealing with deadlines, etc.

Consider having her write a blog. I would recommend that it not be a personal, journal-style blog. Rather, it should be for posting a wide variety of articles and stories, as if it were her own magazine.

As she gets older:

Attend writer's workshops/conferences. This is especially important the closer she comes to adulthood. The advantage is that she will meet real editors from real companies, thus getting practical feedback from a professional as well as making contacts. Do not underestimate the importance of making professional contacts.

Along the same lines, if she holds on to this desire and chooses to pursue this path, she should market herself aggressively. The more professional she is, the better. Right now she is only 11yo, so focus most on just writing well, but as a 16yo it would be wise for her to have some education on effective marketing skills.

No writing job is too small. As she gets older, she should have as wide a variety of writing experience as possible. She can write flyers or ads and other small things. There are many writers who have done so successfully. Also look into the possibilities of working for a small newspaper. I did this in high school, covering sports, and the experience was really valuable for me.

Don't discourage her in her pursuit. Yes, it is very hard to get published, but it's not impossible, especially if you conduct yourself like a professional and work hard at it.

#6 Pen

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 03:40 PM

There is a publication called, I think, Stone Soup that publishes writing and illustrations (writers do not have to do the illustrations themselves) by children only up to age 13 or 14 as I recall. She could try to work toward that.

She could also look at authors biographies and learn about what they did prior to becoming recognized and able to leave their "day jobs"--or she could be encouraged to look at a writing based day job, such as journalism.

#7 ocelotmom

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 03:51 PM

At 11? I'd encourage her to write all she can, read good books, and learn to accept constructive criticism. I wouldn't say anything to discourage her at that point.

Developing her writing skills cannot possibly do any harm.

There's plenty of time for discussion about day jobs later. Most kids don't have their "day job" determined at 11.

#8 IsabelC

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 04:13 PM

And how do you have a romantic idea of writing? Isn't she too young to be dealing with romance? Yes, she does read romance genred books, but only mild ones. Should I restrain that? I remember reading romance books as a kid, and I don't remember it affecting me much. Is it different when you're writing?

I wasn't talking about romantic in the sense of love stories! I meant romantic in the sense of seeing it through rose colored glasses, ie only looking at the positive aspects.

Re the writing being detrimental to her schoolwork, you can encourage her to set up a timetable where she writes at a certain time each day. Tell her about the famous authors who wrote major works in their spare time while holding down a 'regular' job.

#9 Jewel

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 05:29 PM

http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/

#10 Lopsided

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 05:05 AM

Former editor here . . .

The first, best thing to do is write a LOT. It needs to be approached as a discipline. Even if the inspiration isn't flowing, she should be writing to keep those mental muscles strong. The 10,000 hours principle really does apply here.

Entering contests is also a great idea, though she should be prepared not to win and often not to receive feedback. It's still a good exercise, though, because of the practice in writing within certain boundaries, dealing with deadlines, etc.

Consider having her write a blog. I would recommend that it not be a personal, journal-style blog. Rather, it should be for posting a wide variety of articles and stories, as if it were her own magazine.

As she gets older:

Attend writer's workshops/conferences. This is especially important the closer she comes to adulthood. The advantage is that she will meet real editors from real companies, thus getting practical feedback from a professional as well as making contacts. Do not underestimate the importance of making professional contacts.

Along the same lines, if she holds on to this desire and chooses to pursue this path, she should market herself aggressively. The more professional she is, the better. Right now she is only 11yo, so focus most on just writing well, but as a 16yo it would be wise for her to have some education on effective marketing skills.

No writing job is too small. As she gets older, she should have as wide a variety of writing experience as possible. She can write flyers or ads and other small things. There are many writers who have done so successfully. Also look into the possibilities of working for a small newspaper. I did this in high school, covering sports, and the experience was really valuable for me.

Don't discourage her in her pursuit. Yes, it is very hard to get published, but it's not impossible, especially if you conduct yourself like a professional and work hard at it.


Thank you. I'll keep that in mind. :)

#11 Lopsided

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 05:10 AM

Former editor here . . .

The first, best thing to do is write a LOT. It needs to be approached as a discipline. Even if the inspiration isn't flowing, she should be writing to keep those mental muscles strong. The 10,000 hours principle really does apply here.

Entering contests is also a great idea, though she should be prepared not to win and often not to receive feedback. It's still a good exercise, though, because of the practice in writing within certain boundaries, dealing with deadlines, etc.

Consider having her write a blog. I would recommend that it not be a personal, journal-style blog. Rather, it should be for posting a wide variety of articles and stories, as if it were her own magazine.

As she gets older:

Attend writer's workshops/conferences. This is especially important the closer she comes to adulthood. The advantage is that she will meet real editors from real companies, thus getting practical feedback from a professional as well as making contacts. Do not underestimate the importance of making professional contacts.

Along the same lines, if she holds on to this desire and chooses to pursue this path, she should market herself aggressively. The more professional she is, the better. Right now she is only 11yo, so focus most on just writing well, but as a 16yo it would be wise for her to have some education on effective marketing skills.

No writing job is too small. As she gets older, she should have as wide a variety of writing experience as possible. She can write flyers or ads and other small things. There are many writers who have done so successfully. Also look into the possibilities of working for a small newspaper. I did this in high school, covering sports, and the experience was really valuable for me.

Don't discourage her in her pursuit. Yes, it is very hard to get published, but it's not impossible, especially if you conduct yourself like a professional and work hard at it.


Thank you! My dd was very excited to get a reply from a former editor (I showed this to her). She says she'll try to write everyday and will try for all the writing projects/ programs in school that she can get her hands on. She's already entered a competition, and I approved of that because it may help her adjust to having to write within a certain time limit.

Anyway, thank you so much! :)

#12 Lopsided

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 06:19 AM

Thanks to everyone who gave me tips. I have posted some of her writing, and we are working on writing under time pressure. Again, thanks to everyone who helped! :)

#13 kcunning

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 12:18 PM

My eleven years old daughter has always wanted to be an author ever since she was six. I've been told that she has a talent with words from school teachers, and I encourage her fully, but I worry about her adult life.

I know it's hard to be known and really earn much as an author. I've told her this, and she understands, though she still has that determination - she's a very stubborn child who likes to pursue her dreams. Every time someone asks her what she wants to be when she grows up, her answer's always the same - I want to be an author.

She understands that she probably won't get to the bestselling degree and should probably find another job that would give her financial security when she grows older, and we've discussed this, but she doesn't have another interest in mind. I worry she she will 'put all her eggs in one basket'.

What should I do? Should I do all I can to encourage her with her writing, or should I try to guide her into finding another subject that interests her, so that she would be able to have another job as well as being a part-time writer? If I'm going to try to encourage her, what are some good practices to improve her skills?

**She said that if she has to choose another job, she would want to be an editor or an english teacher/tutor. These all require great grammar and english skills. What should I do to help?


Oh, and I'll try to find a sample of her writing to post to discuss what she needs to improve on. That'll be quite hard, as she's pretty aggressive and private when it comes to her writing. I'm sure I can convince her to give a copy, though, if I tell her it'll help her improve with her skills.


I am in a similar situation with my eleven year old son. He has wanted to be an author since he was seven. He has been working on a novel for about 9 months now, but at a slow pace. To give him a better idea of what being an author is like, we are doing the NaNoWriMo young writer's program next month. Hopefully he will get a better feel for what's it is really like to have a deadline.


In school this year we are focusing on writing with WWS and The Creative Writer to further develop his writing skills. The Creative Writer has been helpful in getting to work outside his comfort zone. He has a specific way he likes to write, but the lessons in The Creative Writer requires him to think about writing a little differently. Some of the lessons have tied well with his NaNoWriMo prep. We are using Analytical Grammar for grammar.


Luckily my son understands that having a best seller isn't a sure thing, so he is prepared to have a backup profession. We try to support his goal to become an author, but have always stressed that it may take a while to make enough money to support himself.

Kim

#14 Lopsided

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 07:41 PM

I am in a similar situation with my eleven year old son. He has wanted to be an author since he was seven. He has been working on a novel for about 9 months now, but at a slow pace. To give him a better idea of what being an author is like, we are doing the NaNoWriMo young writer's program next month. Hopefully he will get a better feel for what's it is really like to have a deadline.


In school this year we are focusing on writing with WWS and The Creative Writer to further develop his writing skills. The Creative Writer has been helpful in getting to work outside his comfort zone. He has a specific way he likes to write, but the lessons in The Creative Writer requires him to think about writing a little differently. Some of the lessons have tied well with his NaNoWriMo prep. We are using Analytical Grammar for grammar.


Luckily my son understands that having a best seller isn't a sure thing, so he is prepared to have a backup profession. We try to support his goal to become an author, but have always stressed that it may take a while to make enough money to support himself.

Kim

My daughter is having the same doubts and worries. She tells me she'll probably get a small profession (like opening a book shop, being an english teacher/tutor.) She says she can work as a writer part time.

I think the main problem with her worries is financial security. I've told her to follow her dreams, and asked her for the jobs she might like as a part time occupation. She gave me a list that may help you and your son:

Editor
English teacher/tutor
Magazine article journalist
Script writer
Graphic designer

Hope this helps.

#15 Harriet Vane

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 09:24 PM

My daughter is having the same doubts and worries. She tells me she'll probably get a small profession (like opening a book shop, being an english teacher/tutor.) She says she can work as a writer part time.

I think the main problem with her worries is financial security. I've told her to follow her dreams, and asked her for the jobs she might like as a part time occupation. She gave me a list that may help you and your son:

Editor
English teacher/tutor
Magazine article journalist
Script writer
Graphic designer

Hope this helps.


FWIW most of those can be done freelance. The only one that cannot is English teacher (unless she were tutoring). However, as an English teacher she would have summers off, which could be a good time to focus her writing. She's young yet and doesn't have to make that big decision now, but I just wanted to affirm that all these professions would be a good fit for an author, and most can be done part-time and/or freelance.

#16 Lopsided

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 05:00 AM

FWIW most of those can be done freelance. The only one that cannot is English teacher (unless she were tutoring). However, as an English teacher she would have summers off, which could be a good time to focus her writing. She's young yet and doesn't have to make that big decision now, but I just wanted to affirm that all these professions would be a good fit for an author, and most can be done part-time and/or freelance.

Thank you. :) My dd's always been a little ahead of herself... though I suppose that may be a good thing. Sometimes.

Thank you for your response!

#17 EppieJ

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:42 PM

This is late in the conversation, and perhaps a mute point at this juncture, but I wanted to second (or third) the NaNoWriMo idea. Maybe you participated this year already? You mentioned something about not wanting her other schoolwork to suffer. As this is our third year of NaNo, I can whole-heartedly attest to the fact that nothing else will get done during the month of November. :001_rolleyes: After our first experience, for future years I planned for that reality; it is such a valuable experience, tho, I think it's totally worth it. We are part of a PPP in our district and ds does NaNo with a "class". It's so fun to see them all huddled under & on top of tables and counters with blankets, hot chocolate and computers/notebooks just writing away! In this setting, they also have the experience of critiquing each others' work, sharing input and learning from their instructor who is also a practicing author.

At the end of the whole editing process, and the books are published, there is such a sense of satisfaction from each of the kids - joy at what they've accomplished. And then there was the year ds was invited into a younger writing class as a "guest author" - he sat in a seat of honor and read from his published book. He absolutely beamed! :001_smile:

But I digress...really I just wanted to say that I think it would be a valuable experience for your dc. There are always encouraging notes emailed from various authors as well (such as "Erin Hunter" the authors of The Warriors series).

#18 mom2bee

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 08:09 AM

You've been given great advice on developing her as a writer and developing her writing skills. Aside from that, I would just continue to develop her a well-rounded education. Just her help to understand that (unless her first novel is the next Harry Potter) she may very well be a part time author and there is nothing wrong with that. Its a lovely and fun job that is very, very difficult to make into a career but not impossible.

I also support the idea of a NanoWrimo.

#19 Butter

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 08:33 AM

My daughter wants to write because she says it's like breathing. She has to do it. She knows she is not likely to make much at it.

That said, she's actually talked to three published authors so far (one is a friend of mine and has just one book published and is working on the sequel - her contract was for a series of two books, one has quite a few books published but isn't super well-known, the third is extremely famous and wrote the series where I got my daughter's actual first name from - I was so surprised when she responded, but I must say... she is totally awesome!) and gotten good advice from them. Mostly they all said write a lot and read a whole lot. And then be preparted for lots and lots of rejection, but be persistent and don't give up.



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