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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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Attending a writing event is a great way for writers to learn, network, and make some friends. And with so many options offered, it’s easy to find something that suits your needs or wants. But before registering for a writing event – which may or may not involve a fee – I have one recommendation: know what you’re signing up for.

I learned this recently, when I attended a writer’s workshop that was led by a local author. While I was expecting a lengthy presentation on the topic, followed by some writing and discussion, I got a brief presentation, a bit of discussion, but mostly writers doing exercises, reading from their manuscripts, and critiquing each other’s work. Yes, workshop implies work – and in this case, lots of it.

No one can predict exactly what will go on during a writing event, not even the event coordinator (who, in my situation, led me a tad astray), but knowing something about the typical format in advance helps. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of writing events available and what you might expect to get from each one:

  • Conference – an organized, day or longer writing event that involves large-group presentations and smaller, breakout sessions. Keynote speakers, book signings, manuscript critiques, social hours, and meals are often included.
  • Workshop – a hands-on learning session where participants perform writing exercises, discuss writing issues, and share their work for feedback.
  • Round table – implies an open discussion, where everyone has an equal voice; there is no leader or “head” of the table.
  • Forum – a general term that refers to a place where writers congregate to discuss, ask questions, get information, or conference, online or in person; sometimes a presenter leads.
  • Critique group – a meeting with a group of writers to read and analyze each other’s work.
  • Class – a course of study on a particular aspect of writing, led by an instructor.
  • Presentation – a writing professional speaks to a group, sharing expertise on a topic or experience; often includes a question-and-answer period.
  • Reading – a published author reads from his or her work; may involve a short presentation.

If you’re still confused about the format of an event, contact the person or organization hosting the event and try to get answers to your questions. And be sure to find out if preregistration is necessary and whether a fee is involved. Writing events are great resources for writers, but to make them worth your time and money, do the research first.

(Image by Rick Audet)