author of Feeding Eden

Young (even very young) Writing Communities

When I was a teenager I wrote some poetry and a profusion of expansive and often illustrated notes to my friends. Outside of school assignment, other kinds of writing seemed a bother and a risky use of time. Who in the world would actually read them? So what a thing that my own children are growing up in world where anyone, even very young writers, can publish their thoughts on the Internet. Even as a teacher, I left the classroom before computers were being used widely and digital media had become its own whirling force.

There are some recent sites where young people are publishing, and more importantly, workshopping their writing. Three examples:

Figment - "Figment is a community where you can share your writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors. Whatever you're into, from sonnets to mysteries, from sci-fi stories to cell phone novels, you can find it all here." I've been subscribed to Figment for awhile now and it's constantly progressing. They feature contests and opportunities on publications and always have edgy teen content.

The Young Writers Society - "YWS is an online community where young writers can share their literary works with one another. Others then read the work and provide constructive criticism on the poem or story; in effect a very large writing workshop managed by one's own peers."  One of the neater aspects of this site seems to be that the writers are posting segments of their writing, comfortably exposing early drafts and opening themselves up to peer review. That kind of risk taking is crucial to good writing and I would hope it translates back into their classrooms.

Storybird - This is an unusual and kind of fantastic site that uses art work to inspire children to imagine their story. "Storybird reverses the process of visual storytelling by starting with the image and "unlocking" the story inside. Choose an artist or a theme, get inspired, and start writing." I think you have to use Storybird to "get it" but the best part is that the youngest writers can create simple picture book-style stories and workshop them among the community.

All these sites offer a forum for young people to safely expose their ideas, hone their writing skills and build a portfolio outside or inside their school communities.

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