My Journey as a Writer

Growing up, I loved reading books and magazines, writing in my journal, and English was my favourite class; however, it never occurred to me that writing could be my career. I thought the only way to become a writer was to come up with the next Harry Potter and become an overnight success.

Since then, I’ve realized writing is everywhere. From tweets to advertising to websites to articles to blogs, words are an essential part of our day-to-day life. Across industries, there is a demand for writers.

I had my first taste of copywriting when I was working my way through university at a local restaurant. My boss asked for my help with social media, so I began posting on Facebook and Twitter about our menu offerings, events, and specials. Within a year, I doubled our Facebook following and gained valuable experience in community management and copywriting. I dabbled in journalism at the school newspaper, submitted poems to the university’s annual publication, and wrote press releases for the campus reading series events.

After graduating from university, I went on to work at an advertising agency where I wrote websites, commercials, and brochures for clients in real estate, finance, hospitality, and more. Today, I work at a fashion company where I write ads, social media posts, and scripts for video and radio. It’s a lot of fun!

Despite what some might say, there are many career opportunities in creative fields such as art, design, and writing. Look around: the books on your shelf, the name of your hand lotion, the voiceover in your favourite video game, and the dialogue in movies are all made possible by writers.

Don’t get discouraged. As a professional writer, I’m learning every day. I sometimes still have to look up spelling and grammar, and I welcome feedback from others. You don’t have to be perfect.

If you get writer’s block, try flipping through a magazine or book. Take notes on your favourite words, themes, and ideas. Expand on those with related words, connecting themes, and bigger ideas. Mix and match them to see where they lead.

The deadline to enter Kids Write 4 Kids is on March 31st, 2018 and it’s a great opportunity to get creative and practice your writing. I encourage all youth with an appreciation for language and storytelling to enter and show off your skills.

An Open Letter from Last Year’s Kids Write 4 Kids Winner

Since I began working on Kids Write 4 Kids, one of the most rewarding experiences for me is the positive feedback I receive from kids, parents, teachers, and volunteers. Sometimes they are in the form of a phone conversation, but most of the time, it’s just a sentence or two in an email.

Last weekend, I received an email from Olivia Simms, one of last year’s winners, who wrote How to be an Abbott. After reading the email, I just knew it was something I needed to share since the letter wasn’t address just to me but to the Writer of the Future:

Hi Ivy,

I’ve been back in school for about a month now and although things have felt a little hectic, I can’t begin to explain how much the KW4K experience has helped with my self-confidence in dealing with new challenges (like starting high school!).

 Also, I put this together quickly. It’s a letter, not a blogpost…I just wanted to say something to this year’s participants.

Dear Writer of the Future,

Congratulations, you’ve found one of the best opportunities for young writers in Canada! Kids Write 4 Kids absolutely changed my life and I firmly believe it will continue to help kids across the country realize their writing dreams. But enough about me. What does this mean for you?

Maybe you’re doing this as a school assignment, maybe you’re chasing your dream of becoming an author one day. Maybe you’re doing both! In any case, being published “one day” doesn’t have to mean a trillion years from now. It can mean in a couple months. It can mean by the time summer rolls around, you’re a published author. And if you’re like me, those two words make your heart race and your head spin.

Though some people might question you, make you wonder what business a kid under the age of fifteen has publishing a book, let me tell you: you have every business. If you have a story to tell, you are no different from the Rowlings and Hemingways that came before you. Your experiences in this world are inexplicably unique, not because of the things that happen to you, but how you think of them.

If you take part in this challenge, please don’t do it to impress anyone but yourself. Yes, maybe your teacher is making you do it and you “don’t think you have it in you to write well.” But here’s the secret I’ve learned in talking to authors and becoming an author: everyone feels that way sometimes.

 Don’t just write what you think everyone else will like. Write something that you think is funny. Write something that you’d like to read yourself. Write something that changes the reader, but more importantly, changes you. Because if by time you submit your story, you’ve grown as a person and as a writer, you’ve already won.

What are you waiting for? You’ve got writing to do!

Olivia Simms
Author of How to Be an Abbott

Thanks Olivia, it’s fabulous to hear Kids Write 4 Kids has given you such a positive experience. I believe that it’s powerful for kids to inspire other kids, so thank you, Olivia, for your encouragement to this year’s participants!

About Kids Write 4 Kids

The 2017-2018 Kids Write 4 Kids Creative Challenge was officially launched on October 1st.  This will be our 6th annual writing contest for grades 4 – 8.  There’s still plenty of time for students to get started in writing a great story as the submission deadline is March 31st, 2018.  All the details can be found on Ripple Digital Publishing website.

Would you like a chance to meet one of Kids Write 4 Kids first published authors and win a copy of her book?  Safaa Ali, author of Why Peacock have Colorful Feathers will be reading from her book on Wednesday, October 25th at Indigo’s Manulife Centre location in Toronto. Click here for more details.

Becoming an Author Today

A lot of kids want to be authors when they grow up. What if they could be authors now? Sometimes the whole idea of “what you want to be when you grow up” can establish the notion that kids need to sit back and wait for the growing up to happen before they can become authors or artists or app developers – whatever they want to be.

At Ripple Foundation, we believe that kids can become authors right now! Ripple encourages creativity, fosters confidence and reminds kids that they can influence the world they live in today. That’s why the Kids Write 4 Kids creative challenge runs each year. It is wonderful to see so much confidence in our winning authors as they offer some wisdom in the Meet the Author videos. Take a look at the videos and get your students inspired to be creative right now!

Here are some main points we took from the videos:

Just Write!

Since winning the contest at age nine, Safaa Ali, author of Why Peacocks Have Colorful Feathers, has started doing public speaking events and reciting her poetry. She reminds students that their voices matter: “Don’t be afraid or intimidated. Just write. It doesn’t really matter if it’s good or bad. Just write whatever you think is meaningful to you.” Remind your students that it doesn’t matter whether they think it’s good or bad as writers tend to be their own worst critics. Author of The Wish, Hannah Rennie, says it best: if we “write all the time, with all [our] hearts,” we can’t go wrong. “As long as [we] try, we can achieve anything,” says the young writer who won the contest in Grade 6.

What’s happening right now?

Finding the inspiration to write can be the biggest challenge for many students. Why not encourage them to start with describing whatever is happening at that particular moment, like Christopher Smolej did when he wrote his winning story, Escape from The Taco Shop at age twelve. “It was near lunch time and we were doing this for a school assignment and I was getting hungry so I started thinking of food and that led to a story about tacos,” explains Chris. He likes “writing adventure the most and sometimes a bit of fantasy because it can be spur of the moment writing, which is very fun and can result in some funny moments.” When we let go, our creativity sparkles. As with many other things, it is when we forget people are watching or void our thoughts of people’s expectations that the most authentic and beautiful journeys begin.

Share Your writing!

To end, some hearty advice from Leah Oster, who wrote Half Asleep in Grade 6: We must remember to “make sure that people read [our] work. If nobody reads it, [we] definitely won’t have it published.” So encourage your students to share their work. A great and simple way to do so is through the Kids Write 4 Kids creative challenge. Who knows, one of your students might be our next winning author!

The 2016/2017 challenge opened on October 1st, 2016 and will close on March 31, 2017. Click here to learn more.