I’ve visited quite a few schools this year, and I meet a lot of kids who are keen story writers. They have great ideas, but they don’t know what steps they can take to put them on the path to becoming writers.
Budding sports people, musicians and artists often get support from their schools. Sports people in particular have a pathway laid out for them with inter-school sports etc that help kids improve at their chosen sports and lead to local, state and national competition. Musicians often have school concerts or musicals where they can experience performing in front of an audience. Artists might get an opportunity to show their work around the school or at an event.
Schools expect to spend a portion of their funds on sports equipment and art supplies and musical instruments. No one questions this. But what about young writers? It’s far from clear how you become a writer, even for adults. Basically you’re on your own until you have a publisher.
I think schools need to give more support to young writers. And the good news is that it won’t cost much. As with musicians, sportspeople and artists, writers need to experience what it is like to have their work viewed by the public. There is nothing that inspires you to improve your writing more than seeing it in print and knowing you can’t change it! Yet there are so few schools that have a magazine or journal were young writers can publish their work. Even in the bad old days when I was at school, there was a school magazine where I got items published. Writing for a magazine, young writers would get a feel for what it’s like to meet a deadline. They could produce the magazine/journal themselves. The experience would give them a real understanding of the process of publication — as well as an incentive to finish those incomplete stories!
Writers shouldn’t be hand-held. They have to learn to be independent, but it wouldn’t hurt to give them a few clues about competitions and publication opportunities for young writers. Compared to the expense of buying musical instruments and sporting equipment, the cost to a school is minimal.