Resources for Young Writers

by Staff

The call to write is a deeply personal and powerful notion that occurs to all beginning writers at different times. Some of us feel the urge early on while others turn to writing further down the twisting and forking path of life. For those who are driven to put thoughts, emotions, and ideas into words at a young age—and for those teachers and mentors who nourish and encourage them—we have compiled the following resources to assist in the first steps on the long and fulfilling journey to being a writer.


Undergraduate Writing Programs

The following schools offer undergraduate programs specifically focused on creative writing, culminating in a creative writing major. 

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island

Columbia University in New York, New York

Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia

Hamilton University in Clinton, New York

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland

Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio

University of Iowa in Iowa City

University of Wisconsin in Madison

Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut


Books on Writing

Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World (William Morrow, 2018). This “creative call-to-arms” by award-winning fantasy and science fiction writer Neil Gaiman features four essays about how and why to make art, with illustrations by Chris Riddell.  

Dear Ally, How Do You Write a Book? (Scholastic Press, 2019). Best-selling YA author Ally Carter offers practical advice on every stage of the writing process as well as a behind-the-scenes look at publication, and includes tips and insights from other YA writers such as Holly Black, David Levithan, and Daniel José Older.  

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (Harper, 2006). Celebrated novelist, essayist, and critic Francine Prose teaches writers the art of close reading: the practice of studying other writers’ prose and poetry in order to better understand how literature works.  

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook (Flashpoint, 2010). Drawing on years of conversations with fans and aspiring writers, YA authors Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter compile their top tips on how to craft lively characters, find your voice, and develop plot, and more.   

Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly (HarperCollins 2006). Gail Carson Levine, the award-winning YA author of books including Ella Enchanted, shares her wisdom on topics including coming up with ideas, working past writer’s block, and writing dialogue. The book also includes several prompts and exercises to help you tell stories of your own.  


Organizations Serving High School Writers

826 National
This nonprofit organization has chapters in nine major metro areas across the country—San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Ann Arbor/Detroit, Boston, New Orleans, Washington D.C., and New York City—offering free writing classes for kids and teens, as well as publication opportunities, workshops, tutoring, and more.

Austin Bat Cave
This Austin-based nonprofit offers “programs in creative writing, journalism, college essay writing, resume writing, expressive journaling, and more” for writers ages six to eighteen, including both in-person and online workshops.

Girls Write Now
This nonprofit in New York City serves girls and gender-expansive youth through one-on-one mentorships with professional writers, writing workshops, and publication opportunities.

Lighthouse Writers Young Writers Program
This Denver-based nonprofit offers workshops, summer camps, writing cohorts, and other opportunities for teen writers, and has both in-person and online programming.

Polyphony Lit
This nonprofit organization serves a global community of high school-aged writers, offering opportunities to “submit creative writing, join our editorial staff, write blog posts, take workshops, and grow into leadership roles.” All writers submitting work for publication will receive feedback on their work from the magazine’s editorial staff.

SAW Comics: Sequential Artists Workshop
This “nonprofit comics school” offers classes in writing and drawing comics and graphic novels, including some classes appropriate for teen writers. Classes run both online and in person in Gainesville, Florida.

Writopia Lab
This organization based in New York City offers online and in-person classes and workshops, as well as summer camps, clubs, and leadership opportunities.


Residential Summer Workshops

The following workshops for teen writers take place in person on college campuses and at other arts centers throughout the country. Many of these opportunities offer financial assistance, including in some cases complete coverage of the cost to attend. Applications for most programs are due in the spring before the summer you plan to attend. Visit each workshop’s website for more details.

Alpha—The Young Writers Workshop
This annual twelve-day science fiction workshop for writers ages fourteen to nineteen is held in July at the University of Pittsburgh campus in Greenburg, Pennsylvania.

Denison Reynolds Young Writers Workshop
This annual weeklong workshop for rising high school juniors and seniors features writing workshops, faculty readings, time to write, and excursions near the Denison University campus in Granville, Ohio.

Emerson College Creative Writers Workshop
This annual four-week workshop at Emerson College in Boston offers courses in “fiction, prose, scriptwriting, comedy writing, the graphic novel, and performance poetry,” culminating in the creation of a writing portfolio and a final reading. 

Interlochen Creative Writing Summer Program for High School Writers
These annual three-week workshops serve high school writers working in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting. All participating writers study in two genres. Writers have the opportunity to contribute to an anthology, participate in a final reading, and attend faculty readings, among other activities. The workshops take place at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, a summer camp and arts academy offering classes in a variety of artistic disciplines in Interlochen, Michigan.

Sponsored by the Asian American Journalists Association, this annual six-day camp “strives to confront the lack of diversity in journalism” by bringing “together a multicultural group of high school students from across the nation to sharpen their journalism skills and work together in a unique learning environment. The curriculum consists of interactive workshops, hands-on training and field trips.” The camp is held in different locations each year; the 2023 location is Washington, D.C.

Juniper Institute for Young Writers
This annual weeklong workshop is held on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst (UMass). Activities include “writing labs, craft sessions, participant readings, writer’s life talks, and write-alongs, in addition to field trips to destinations associated with the poets, writers and activists who made Western Massachusetts their home,” such as Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Frost. 

*The Juniper Institute also offers online workshops for teen writers in the winter and summer.

Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop
Sponsored by the celebrated literary magazine the Kenyon Review, this annual two-week workshop features multigenre, generative workshops for teen writers. The workshop takes place on the Kenyon College campus in Gambier, Ohio.

*The Kenyon Review also offers online workshops for teen writers in the winter and summer.



Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud is “a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country.” Teen participants in the annual competition memorize poems and give dynamic recitation performances, competing at local, then state, then national level events. The national grand prize winner is named at the final competition, held each spring in Washington, D.C., and receives $20,000.

*Read more about Poetry Out Loud in “The Poem Chooses You” by Anndee Hochman, published in the March/April 2018 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Sarah Lawrence College Writers’ Week
This annual weeklong day camp is held in two sessions: one in August on the campus of Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and one online, held in July. Both offer “writing and theater workshops led by prose writers, poets, and performance artists” for teen writers ages 14 and up. Writers can also participate in readings and a culminating celebration at the end of the week.


Writing Contests

Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose
Genres: Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction by writers of secondary or undergraduate status. Prize: $200 plus publication in the Adroit Journal. Typical deadline: May 1. Frequency: Annual. Entry fee: $15.

Bennington College Young Writers Awards 
Genres: Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction by writers in ninth to twelfth grade. Prize: $1,000; second-place winners receive $500; third-place winners receive $250. Frequency: Annual. Entry fee: None.

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Art Contest
Genres: Poetry and spoken word, fiction, and creative nonfiction of at least 100 words by students ages eleven to eighteen. Prize: Up to $1,500. Typical deadline: June 13. Frequency: Annual. Entry fee: None.

Leonard L. Milberg ‘53 High School Poetry Prize
Genres: Poetry by students in eleventh grade. Prize: First-place prize is $1,500; second-place prize is $750; third-place prize is $500. Frequency: Annual. Entry fee: None.

Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest
Genres: Poetry by “young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school or preparatory school.” Prize: $350; publication in Cargoes, Hollins University’s student literary magazine; a renewable scholarship up to $5,000 if you enroll at Hollins University; free tuition and housing for the university’s Hollinsummer creative writing program (for rising ninth- to twelfth-grade students. Typical deadline: October 31. Frequency: Annual. Entry fee: None.

National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) Creative Writing Scholarship
Genres: Poetry and fiction by high school students graduating in 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2027, as well as recently graduated 2023 seniors. Prize: Three scholarships of $2,000 each for poetry and three scholarships of $2,000 each for fiction. Typical deadline: October 23. Frequency: Annual. Entry fee: The NSHSS charges a one-time membership fee of $90 for students in the United States and Canada; full fee waivers are offered to students “who have significant documented financial hardships.”

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
Genres: Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by students in seventh to twelfth grade. Prize: Scholarships of $1,000 to $12,500 each, publication, cash prizes, tuition assistance. Typical deadline: December or January. Frequency: Annual. Entry fee: $10.

Young Arts National Writing Competition
Genres: Poetry, spoken word, fiction, and creative nonfiction by writers ages fifteen to eighteen, or in tenth through twelfth grade. Prize: Cash prizes of $100 to $10,000 each. Typical deadline: October 13. Frequency: Annual. Entry fee: $35.


Places to Publish

Foredge Review
“A literary magazine for young writers with a focus on those in Asian countries, The Foredge Review aims to support teen interest in writing and reading by providing a platform for receiving recognition. We welcome submission from any teen but place focus on those residing in Asia. Entries will be considered by a team of adults, with online issues published biannually.” Submissions are currently open for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Hypernova Lit
This literary magazine “seeks to cast light on the brilliant work produced by teenagers. We are deeply committed to honesty and fearlessness in the work we publish, with a particular emphasis on teenagers telling their own difficult truths.” Submissions are accepted in all genres.

Kalopsia Literary Journal
This literary journal is “run by high school and college students from all over the world who aim to promote art and writing among (seemingly) ordinary people. The journal is dedicated to uplifting the voices of talented writers and artists, regardless of age or credentials. As such, Kalopsia strongly encourages submissions from students, emerging writers, and those who belong to marginalized groups. Editors provide detailed and personalized feedback on every single writing submission.”

Polyphony Lit
“Polyphony Lit is the global online literary platform for high school students. We invite high school students worldwide to submit creative writing, join our editorial staff, write blog posts, take workshops, and grow into leadership roles. Because developing young writers is central to our mission, our editors provide feedback on every submission.”


Other Resources

Advice From Judy Blume
The legendary, award-winning author of more than twenty-five novels and YA books, including Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, offers advice on revision, rejection, and her own process, among other topics.


Resources From Poets & Writers

Free Magazine Subscriptions for Young Writers
Poets & Writers is pleased to provide free subscriptions to Poets & Writers Magazine to award-winning young writers and to high school creative writing teachers for use in their classrooms.

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises
The Time Is Now offers three new and original writing prompts each week to help you stay committed to your writing practice throughout the year. We also curate a list of essential books on writing—both the newly published and the classics—that we recommend for guidance and inspiration. Whether you’re struggling with writer’s block, looking for a fresh topic, or just starting to write, our archive of writing prompts has what you need. New to writing prompts? Check out our Writing Prompts for Beginners.

Writers Recommend
In this online exclusive we ask authors to share books, art, music, writing prompts, films—anything and everything—that has inspired them in their writing. We see this as a place for writers to turn to for ideas that will help feed their creative process.

Craft Capsules
In our weekly series of craft essays, some of the best and brightest minds in contemporary literature explore their craft in compact form, articulating their thoughts about creative obsessions and curiosities in a working notebook of lessons about the art of writing.

Poets & Writers Theater
Every day we share a new clip of interest to creative writers—author readings, book trailers, publishing panels, craft talks, and more. So grab some popcorn, filter the theater tags by keyword or genre, and explore our sizable archive of literary videos.

Top Topics for Writers
Since our founding in 1970, Poets & Writers has served as an information clearinghouse of all matters related to writing. While the range of inquiries has been broad, common themes have emerged over time. Our Top Topics for Writers addresses the most popular and pressing issues, including literary agents, copyright, MFA programs, and self-publishing.

Literary Magazines database
Ready to publish? Find a home for your poems, stories, essays, and reviews by researching the publications vetted by our editorial staff and listed in the Literary Magazines database. Here you’ll find editorial policies, submission guidelines, and contact information—everything you need to determine which publications match your vision for your writing and your writing life. 

Writing Contests database
Our Grants & Awards database includes details about the creative writing contests—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, and more—that we’ve published in Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it. Ours is the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.