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Ah, summer in Minnesota, the season of cool lakes, warm breezes, lush parks, and spectacular wildlife. But don’t just soak it all up; write about it. If you’ve been itching to try your hand (and talent) at writing and you live in Minnesota, you’re in luck. The best time of year to get started is right around the corner. Summer in Minnesota offers writing opportunities and ideas galore, plus you’ll have plenty of resources at your fingertips thanks to the state’s thriving writing community.

Ready to delve into a writing career? Make summer in Minnesota the time and place you begin. These three tips will help you get started:

Attend a Summer Class or Conference

Taking a class or attending a conference or workshop is a great way to learn the craft of writing, get some feedback, and practice your skills. The best part? You can find just about any type of class or conference in Minnesota during summer. Got a passion for Christian writing? Check out the Northwestern Christian Writers Conference at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul in July. Interested in writing poetry, science fiction, or memoir? Head over to the Loft Literary Center, where you’ll find plenty of writing class pickings. Young writers can enroll in Hamline University’s Young Writers Workshop in June. Or, check out your local community education program for a list of summer writing courses nearby.

Write Outside—or Lakeside

Embarking on a writing career begins with an interest in writing—and a lot of doing it. The great Minnesota outdoors has all the venues you need to inspire your creativity, especially during summer. Grab your writing materials and head to your favorite spot outside—a shaded park bench, beneath a tall oak, or nestled in the backyard hammock. For some extra inspiration, seek out one of the state’s many lakes. You’d be surprised at all the ideas that can pop into your head when out on the lake, sitting near one, or just researching the history and beauty of a Minnesota lake. Not only that, lakes bring on a sense of calm and serenity that can unclutter the mind and get your creativity flowing.

Connect with Minnesota Writers

While there’s a vast network of authors and writers in Minnesota, getting connected takes diligence. Start by contacting writing organizations that interest you and consider joining a local or regional chapter. Many organizations host meetings or summertime events and provide opportunities to meet new writer friends and learn the ropes of writing. You might also look into joining a Minnesota writing meetup, where you can connect with like-minded writers and attend gatherings or critique groups. For something less formal, network with Minnesota writers through social media and plan some fun summertime meetups of your own. Summer is an ideal time to get around town and make friends with other writers, when the weather is at its best.

There’s no time like the now to get started as a writer in Minnesota. Take advantage of the summer season and all the potential it holds, and watch your writing career blossom and flourish.

Image by Pete Markham

 

 

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As writers, we don’t have to be told to sit down and write. It’s what we do and what we enjoy doing. But asking kids to write can be a whole different story, especially during the summer season when school's out. If they don’t have to write, why would they want to?

Actually, there are plenty of reasons. Writing during the summer is a great way for kids to practice their skills without being graded or judged. It’s a chance to write about topics they enjoy and explore their creativity in a leisurely fashion. Writing can also be highly therapeutic for kids; it helps them manage stress and promotes mental well-being. And here’s the best part: getting kids to write during the summer might not be so hard after all.

Try these five writing activities for a fun way to keep your kids thinking, creating, and engaged this summer:

Find a Writing Camp or Class for Kids

Kids love camps, and writing camps are filled with fun projects, social time, and learning. Check with local colleges, community education, writing organizations, or the public library for offerings.

Host Your Own Writing Workshop

Can’t find a camp or class nearby that suits the kids? Why not host your own. Make up writing projects and invite their friends over to join in. Add some snacks, and watch your writing workshop take off.

Journal with Your Kids

Journaling isn’t just fun; it’s a way to express and communicate your feelings. Get your kids to open up via a two-way journal. Start by writing a journal entry individualized to your child. If he likes thunderstorms, write about a thunderstorm memory. Then get your child to respond back.

Fill a Box with Writing Prompts

You’ve probably experienced writer’s block more times than you can count. Sometimes getting kids to write is simply a matter of finding the right topic. Fill a box with writing prompts and have them pick until they find an idea that inspires them.

Take It Outside

Writing indoors can be stifling. Have your kids grab notebooks, pens, and a lounge chair, and head outdoors to write. You can supply the encouragement—and the lemonade.

Don’t think your kids won’t enjoy dabbling in your profession this summer. Give them a fun way to explore their writing talent, and watch them grow and thrive at an art that will serve them well for years to come.

Image by Carissa Rogers

 

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some grain had been partially harvested nearby, so we could walk into the center of the field and take a few photos.

Summer’s here, which means school is out and there are lots of fun things beckoning—barbecues, a trip to the beach, biking with the kids. Who has time to write?

Just because outdoor activities are in full bloom and schedules have gone by the wayside, doesn’t mean you stop writing. Writers write—year round. The trick is to find ways to fit in time to write so you’ll feel productive and stay devoted to your craft without missing out on summer fun.

You may need to be a little creative and flexible, but finding time to write in the summer isn’t all that tough. Here are five ideas that might help.

1. Carry Your Writing Tools Everywhere

You never know when an idea might strike, so always be ready to capture it. Slip a notebook and pen in your purse, or carry your tablet or laptop in a messenger bag when you go out. Even a pencil and scratch paper stuffed in the glove compartment of your car can come in handy for those days when creativity sudden flows. Don’t count on your mind to remember your ideas; be safe, and be prepared.

2. Rise and Shine

Whether you have the birds to thank or the sun, chances are you wake up early during the summer months. It’s not a bad thing actually. Popping out of bed at the crack of dawn can be a great way to start your day, especially if you use the time productively. Grab some coffee and make a beeline to your desk for an hour or two of concentrated writing.

3. Make It a Family Affair

If you have kids at home, include them in your writing routine. Set up a workshop where everyone writes. Pick a topic that's kid-friendly. You’ll get an interesting variety of writing to read, writing practice for all, and a worthwhile use of your time. Include snacks or prizes to make it more fun. Just don’t be surprised if the kids come running back for more.

4. Be a Weekend Warrior

Summer weekdays can be hectic for families with busy summer routines. Your days of writing alone suddenly become filled with carpooling to sports, making lunches, and cleaning up after everyone. That’s where weekends come in handy. Use the time when another parent is available to hit the office. Shut yourself off for several hours and get some quality writing time in.

5. Plan a Writing Vacation

A writing vacation may not be your idea of a summer trip, but you’ll be surprised at how rewarding it can be. Not only will you get to do what you love, you’ll enjoy the break from busy summer schedules to concentrate on just you. There are plenty of writing retreats available during the summer months (check out the ones on this list), or you can create one of your own.

Summer is a time for fun, family, friends—and writing. Give your craft the attention it deserves this summer, and make the season as enjoyable as it is productive.

Image by Nosha

 

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kids writingIf you're a young Minnesota writer looking for ways to cultivate your craft this summer, listen up. The Twin Cities has some great opportunities for blossoming student writers. Summer writing camps and workshops are an ideal way to learn because they’re laid back, pressure-free, and centered on fun. Besides that, they’re a productive use of your time and a chance to meet new friends. What have you got to lose?

Check out these six writing opportunities for youth living in the Twin Cities area. But don’t wait too long to enroll; many start soon and space is limited.

Minneapolis Young Writer’s Workshop. North Central University in downtown Minneapolis hosts this creative writing workshop for young writers aged 13-19. You’ll get one-on-one critiques, open-mic opportunities, and evening sessions with keynote speakers, including Jay Asher and Jonathan Friesen. The workshop runs June 14-16, 2016, and costs $300.

Writing Magic – The Art of Creative Writing. Targeted at grades 3 through 8, this four-day Edina Summer Computer Camp runs from June 7-10, 2016, and is an opportunity for students to explore different genres of writing and gain confidence in their skills. You’ll also learn about digital writing, including blogging and self-publishing. The fee is $135, and the camp is held at South View Middle School in Edina.

Hamline University’s Young Writer’s Workshop. This is a great opportunity for high school students to prepare for college and connect with other writers in the area, including the Hamline staff and published authors. Besides in-depth instruction, you’ll get to tour the literary Twin Cities. Cost for this workshop is $400 for four full days, from June 20-23, 2016.

Bethel University’s Journalism Mini-Camp. Have an interest in the media? This camp might be just the ticket. It’s a three-day minicamp for students in grades 9 through 12 who want to learn more about reporting and other forms of media work. You’ll also get to hear from top Twin Cities journalists. The camp runs July 22-24, 2016, and costs $75. Find the details here.

Intermedia Art’s Writing Circle for Teens. If you're a teen who loves to write and you’re looking for a peer group to learn and workshop with, this Intermedia Arts-sponsored program fits the bill. The Writing Circle for Teens meets every other week to share prompts, set goals, and get feedback. The best part is, it’s free! Check the website for times and dates.

The Loft Literary Center Summer Enrichment Classes. Minneapolis’s well-known literary center, The Loft, has an array of classes for youth ages 6-17 this summer. There's everything from writing fan fiction to fantasy to college essays. Dates and fees vary, although discounts apply for Loft members. Online classes are available too. You can see the full listing of summer youth programs here.

Know of any other summer writing camps or workshops for youth in Minnesota? Please share them below.

Happy summer writing!

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writing journal

Going through a midsummer writing slump? If you can’t get yourself to sit down and write, what you might need is something new and different to inspire you—or at least get you thinking about writing again. Here are some ideas for getting back on track with your craft this summer:

1. Relive your vacation. Did you do something interesting on your summer vacation? Maybe you went somewhere unique or experienced something worth sharing. Or, maybe you have a funny anecdote to tell. Jot it down! Whether or not it becomes a publishable piece doesn’t matter; writing about a memorable time is motivating, fun, and stress-free.

2. Start a journal. Journals can also be motivating for writers. If you haven’t been keeping one, summer is a good time to start. Journals are a place to write about anything you want, in any style or form you want. They often lead to something bigger, but they can be self-serving, too.

3. Revisit an unfinished piece. Did you write a story years ago and toss it aside? Why not pull it out and take another look. After all this time, you may find a new way to approach the piece and discover that it’s worth finishing after all.

4. Write a book review. If you’ve read something good (or bad) this summer, consider writing about the book. Book reviews are always appreciated. Give a brief summary, explain the book’s strengths and weaknesses, and offer a general opinion. You can submit the review for publication, post it on your blog, or share it with friends.

5. Take a writing refresher class. Taking a writing class is a great summer pick-me-up, and it can accomplish many things, including learning a new writing skill and fine-tuning what you already know. Most important, writing classes will get you writing, and they may even result in several potential submissions. For convenience, look into the numerous writing courses offered online.

Got any other ideas? Please feel free to share your remedy for a midsummer writing slump.

 

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One of my summer projects is to get started writing a novel. It’s been about eight years since I wrote my last book, so I’ll admit I’m a little rusty. Worse, for me summer isn’t the most ideal time to write, with kids home from school, beautiful days beckoning me outside, and mini-vacations scattered through the months. But I’m determined to at least get started on my book, and so I’ve decided to begin with a notebook.

It’s actually a pretty good-sized notebook, the three-ring kind with lots of tabbed dividers. Putting together this notebook is a project of its own but one I think will pay off in the long run. Here’s what I plan to include in my notebook:

  1. Character profiles, or sketches of my main characters. (For how to write a character profile, check out this article.)
  2. A synopsis, or a short summary of the plot. (Of course, this will likely change, many times.)
  3. A working outline, with a working title.
  4. Early chapter drafts.
  5. Research sources and ideas.
  6. Notes.
  7. A listing of books to read or browse for examples.
  8. A miscellaneous section for extra papers, contacts, etc.
  9. Loose leaf paper.

One thing I’ve learned over the years: Getting started writing a novel (or any book, for that matter) takes time, patience, and focus. A novel notebook is a great way to ease in to the process, especially during the summer months when you may not be ready to plunge into a big project. So far, my notebook has been fun to organize, handy to use, and—above all—motivating. More important, each time I add to my notebook, I feel a sense of accomplishment; I’m one step closer to writing that novel.