How I Became a Kid Writer

  • I read books. Lots of books. Many more books than my teachers told me to read. I didn't wait for my teacher or my mother or my best friend to tell me to read a particular book. I just read it. My favorite childhood book was The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I still have that book and it's still one of my favorites. Tip: Find a favorite book you can love your whole life and reread it from time to time.
  • I loved my local library. In my hometown of Athens, Georgia, I visited the Athens Regional Library almost every week and spent a lot of time there as a kid. I explored the books and learned which authors I liked and which authors were writing for me. Every summer, I joined the library book club and read all summer long so I'd be ready for school in the fall. Tip: Fall in love with your local library and go there often.
  • I wrote. Even way back in elementary school, I imitated writers I read and admired. The poems of Robert Louis Stevenson inspired me to write poetry. I began with simple poems, then moved on to writing short stories. Tip: Start writing as soon as possible. It takes a long time and lots of practice to become a good writer. 
  • I listened when my teachers encouraged me to read many books and try my hand at writing. My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Clara Doster, said I wrote very good poems, and I believed her. Tip: Listen to your teachers! Especially when they encourage you.
  • I didn't worry about what other kids said. Instead, I sat on the school steps during recess, writing poems while the other kids dangled from the monkey bars. The louder they shouted at me to join them, the harder I wrote. I did sometimes hand on the monkey bars and I played kickball and softball and hopscotched. This activity gave me plenty to write about. Tip: Be active, so you, too, have plenty to write about.
  • I observed the world around me, paying attention to the details I found interesting. Like the persimmon tree in my backyard and the neighbors who lived all around me. Some of the people, places and details I noticed way back when I was a kid have found a place in fiction I've written as an adult. Tip: Pay attention to details. You never know when they might come in handy.
  • I developed a vivid imagination and used it. Even as a kid, I often asked myself this question: What if? That's still one of the best story starters in the universe. Tip: Ask yourself, "What if?" Then use your answer to write a story.
  • I won the typewriter instead of the bike at the long ago Fife Drugstore "Best Girl/Best Boy" contest in East Plaza Shopping Center in Athens, Georgia. At first I was disappointed by my prize. Then I took my new portable aqua typewriter home and used it to write a story. After that, I wrote another story, and so on until I eventually wrote newspaper columns, magazine articles and finally books. If I had won the bike instead of the typewriter, who knows if I would have become a writer? Tip: Talk your parents into providing you with good writing equipment such as a tablet or laptop. Today, I use an iPad and a Mac Mini Pro as my writing tools.
  • I believed in myself, even when it seemed I might never reach my writing and publication goals. I also tuned out anyone who told me I couldn't write, even my parents! If you believe in yourself, you have unlimited opportunities! Tip: Believe in yourself. If you really want something, work hard and never give up!
Donny Bailey Seagraves typing an article for her Athens High School paper, the Thumb Tack Tribune