WNYC Radio host Brian Lehrer

WNYC Radio host Brian Lehrer

Write. Rewrite. Stop.

These three words, dispensed tersely from award-winning radio-journalist and WNYC Radio host Brian Lehrer, comprise his best advice for teen writers and especially for all of you who plan to enter the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. To elaborate a bit—just a bit—here are his tips:

WRITE

  • Write every day. If you want to make it at something, do it all the time.
  • Write long, write medium, write short….but keep writing.
  • Write along with your life. Write about the mundane things that happen in your day and you’ll wind up finding meaning in them that you didn’t know was there until the writing made you start to think.
  • Write about things outside your life:  Notice the things that capture your interest. Make a note of what they are.  Write about why THAT made you stop and think. Then check ‘em out more fully (see next tip!).

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Stephanie Carlisle. A World of Your Own Making. Grade 12, Age 17. 2013 Gold Medal, Mixed Media.

Stephanie Carlisle. A World of Your Own Making. Grade 12, Age 17. 2013 Gold Medal, Mixed Media.

This week, our SoHo office has earned an extra “t”: SOHOT. So we asked alum Loretta Lopez, editor of this year’s The Best Teen Writing (to be released in the fall) and native of Guadalajara, to share her ideas for keeping cool and creative during this sultry season.  Read on, while you sip your iced chai or lemonade! Have ideas on how to stay creative this summer? Tweet them to @artandwriting using #StartWriteNow or post them on our Facebook page!

Trust chance
Go to a nearby library, bookstore, or even a shelf in your house. Run your fingers over the spines of books (perhaps with your eyes closed) and when one feels right, choose it.  Split it open and read the first paragraph that you lay your eyes on. Then, write a scene that either follows or precedes the occurrences of the paragraph you just read. Read More

Yeonsu Oh. Sound Letters. Grade 12, Age 18. 2012 Silver Medal, Art Portfolio.

Yeonsu Oh. Sound Letters. Grade 12, Age 18. 2012 Silver Medal, Art Portfolio.

Leslie Asked:

Hello Mr. Vizzini! I’m writing a story, but a lot of it takes place between messages online. So I am wonder how exactly do I go about that? It’s based on a true story, and it took place first with wall posts, to messages, then to Skype etc. I’ve never written something like this. Any advice on how to go about it? Thanks!

Ned Answered:

Hi Leslie, What you are writing is an epistolary story – that is, a story presented as a series of letters. This kind of story has a long history. The 18th century novel The Dangerous Liaisons, which you might know as the basis for that 1999 movie Cruel Intentions, was written as a series of letters. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, more recently, is structured as a series of letters addressed to an unnamed friend. Read More

Meganne Mills. Artist’s Special. Grade 11, Age 17. 2013 Silver Medal, Painting.

Fractured Atlas recently compiled a list of practical tips to help budding artists take meaningful immediate steps toward developing their artistic careers — one where you spend less time worrying about the hurdles that stand in your way and have more time to create your art. Check them out below!

(1) Practice your networking.

Find opportunities to meet new people, expand your professional network, and get recognized by influential players. This includes supporting other people’s art, joining professional associations, organizing a panel discussion, or volunteering at a local arts organization or project. If an Emerging Leader or arts-related Meetup group doesn’t exist in your town around a particular interest, start one. Find a theme and own it. Love bourbon and arts technology projects? Schedule informal gatherings at your favorite bourbon haunt and call the evenings Bourbon for Arts Infrastructure Geeks. Try hard to include people who primarily work outside of the cultural sector. The variety of viewpoints and opinions will make it a more dynamic and interesting group.

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Laughter

Colton Witt. Laughter. Grade 11, Age 16. 2012 Gold Medal, Photography.

Luke Asked:

I struggle with humour. I write fantasies. How do you inject humor so easily into your writing? And is comic relief that important? Thank you.

Ned Answered:

Luke, Let’s take the second part of your question first: yes, comic relief is important. Even in the most serious or scary story, a light moment makes things more real. So you are right to try and inject humor (or humour, however we want to call it) into your fantasy stories.

The problem with humor is it’s like love, or success – it doesn’t just happen because you try really hard. If you are racking your brain trying to write something funny, it probably won’t be that funny. You have to open your eyes to what’s around you. Observe other people. See when they do ridiculous things. Make your characters do those things. Bonus points when you make a character do something stupid that you yourself have done.

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Emily Andrews. Overwhelming Books. Grade 12, Age 17. 2011 Silver Medal, Photography Portfolio.

Linda Asked:

You wrote and published your first book when you were a teen. Would you say it was easier in that time vs today for teen writers/everyone to sell, or is the (book) recession only a figment of our creative imaginations?

Ned Answered:

My mother used to tell me, “Every business is a hard business.” If you meet a writer, the writer will often say, “Writing is really hard. It’s impossible to make a living. Books are dead.”

But if you meet a model, the model will often say, “Modeling is really hard. You really have to hustle. And once you turn twenty, you’re done!”

It doesn’t do you any good to listen to these lines of argument. Of course writing is hard. It’s supposed to be. It’s a job.

Now, there are scary statistics. Read More