As the editor of Richland Library's youth literary magazine, Kids in Print, I get to review a lot of writing and art submissions from talented young people from across the Midlands. I also get asked for art and writing tips.
Here are my top 5 tips for art and writing:
1) A picture is worth a thousand words, but brevity is the soul of wit.
Yes, I just mashed-up two familiar phrases--hear me out. Images have the ability to instantly capture the reader's interest. Writers can do the same. The best art and writing grabs the viewer or reader, tells a story and does it with economy of image or words.
2) Make it personal.
Your work doesn't have to be autobiographical, but it should be important to you. Creative passion always shines through.
"My mind is like a glass of water that falls over and spills; the water keeps rushing out no matter how fast you try to clean up the mess. The water keeps flowing until you eventually just have to learn to swim or you'll drown."
Kids in Print 2018 | "Where You Take Life" | Emma Shuster
3) Composition is key.
As an artist, consider where you lead the viewer's eye. What do you give focus? How do line, shape and texture play out in your image? As a writer, do you tell the reader everything right away or do you reveal the story slowly? The pacing of your writing evokes a mood. Don't forget about words. Word choice is a powerful instrument in your writing toolbox.
4) Play with your words (and images.)
Explore new genres or techniques. Be silly. Be ridiculous. Be brave enough to try.
"I spread a welcome mat
Of light across the doorstep of
Night welcome welcome we meet
Again welcome welcome
Please come in."
Kids in Print 2018 | "Porch Light" | Nat'lee Jua
5) Don't settle.
As a young writer, I HATED editing. I wanted to finish my story and be done with it. Revision is a critical part of the process. Very few writers or artists get it exactly right the first time. Push yourself to write better or improve your technique as an artist. One of the joys of being editor is seeing a young writer or artist's work evolve over time--a sure sign that they are putting in the work to become their best creative self.
6) Bonus Tip: When submitting your work for consideration, send multiple pieces if the publication allows.
Read the guidelines carefully. If you are permitted to send more than one poem or photograph, do it. You never know which of your pieces will be a perfect fit. Kids in Print allows contributors to submit up to 10 pieces of art or writing (or some combination of both).
Finally, I can say this--if you want to be a better writer or artist, you have to write or draw. You have to tell stories or pen poems. You need to paint or take hundreds of photos. Practice will not make you perfect, but it will make you better.
Feeling inspired? Kids in Print, Richland Library's youth literary magazine, is extending the deadline for submissions for its 2019 edition. Submissions may be submitted online or at any Richland Library location by midnight on Thursday, January 31st. Contributors must be 6-18 years old and living in the Midlands.
Questions? Call 803-988-0894 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need a little more inspiration? Check out these sites:
Children's Room Librarian
Children's Librarian, avid reader of KidLit and Graphic Novels, and podcast addict.