Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday Writing Workout

Today's writing workout combines my Monday post with an exercise from Elaine Marie Alphin's Creating Characters Kids Will Love. That exercise is:

"Read the community news pages in your newspaper. Find an article about a kid who's done something special. Based on the information in the newspaper, plan how you would interview that particular youngster for an article for kids."

I hope you'll give this one a try. Magazines, especially, welcome articles highlighting kids who are making a positive difference in the world or their small corner of it.

Back in ye olden days (late 90s) when I was a green writer trying to build credits, I read an article in my local paper about a young man from a nearby city who had grown up in a home where the Mississippi River was literally in his backyard. He'd noticed lots of trash left behind by spring flooding, and, upon learning that nobody else was cleaning it up, he'd started spending his summer breaks doing so himself. When I interviewed him at age 23, he had just founded Living Lands & Waters, an organization dedicated to cleaning up not just the 2,300 miles of Mississippi River shoreline (4,600 miles, counting both banks!), but all American waterways.

I entered the article in a contest and did well, so I sent it on to Highlights for Children. They accepted the piece, publishing it in 2002. Since then, they've resold it 8 times, and that young man, Chad Pregracke (Google him. He's all over the internet.) has gone on to win dozens of awards, give countless interviews (mine was the first article written for kids), and spoken all over the world urging others to environmental activism. In fact, he has just been named one of the ten finalists for CNN's Heroes 2013 - Everyday People Changing the World award. You can read about that here (and vote for him!).

Back to writing....You never know when something you spot in your local paper could spark an idea that could pay off for you in ways both large and small (satisfaction and monetary compensation, in that order, ha). So keep your eyes peeled, and in the meantime, practice your interviewing and writing skills with Elaine's exercise.

Success = preparation + perseverance

Jill Esbaum


Carmela Martino said...

Jill, thanks for this great WWW, and for sharing your magazine success story (and for telling us about Chad!). I often recommend to my students that they submit to magazines. The ones who take my advice often reap the very rewards you mention. :-)

Jill said...

You're very welcome, Marti. :) I think lots of us start out with magazines. It's a great training ground.