Writing is something that lends itself to outdoor education, whether it be academic research or creative poetry and stories. There’s something about going outside, into the sun or the rain, and putting a pen to paper.
I’ve been in outdoor education workshops where we sit outside and use nature to inform our writing. I’ve seen biology students outside jotting their notes on the plants they study, later compiling the data into scientific papers. Journaling. Collecting data. Whatever you want to call it, writing is a key component of outdoor education.
I assign a nature-inspired poem in my creative writing classes that force students on walks outside. I’ve taken beginning writers outside on walks to clear their heads before returning to classrooms to do academic writing. I call those writing exercises walk-and-thinks.
The question is, what do we do with student work that turns out amazing? Sometimes hanging it on a classroom wall just doesn’t seem enough. Sometimes it’s time to encourage a student to submit a piece for professional publishing.
In my creative writing classes, I don’t submit the work for students. If I did, I would require parent permission slips and would include my school’s administrative team in the process. I do provide a handout to students who want to venture out and take their work with them, however. Here it is.
What to Know About Getting Published
Writer’s Guidelines/Submission Guidelines
Every publication and every agent, editor, and publisher has rules you must follow, or your submission will be tossed before anyone reads it. To find out what the rules are (and they are different for every publication, agent, editor, and publisher), Google the publication and do a search for “writer’s guidelines” or “submission guidelines.” Then follow those directions exactly.
The generally accepted format for submission of written work is to type in black, 12 point, Times New Roman or Arial font. Now is not the time to get fancy or creative. You are creative, but publishing is a profit-driven business. Type your full name your contact information (phone and email address), genre of your work (be specific), and the number of words (use MS Word to type and use the word count feature for this) at the top left or right corner. Space one-third of the way down the first page and center your title. The title should be written in all capital letters. Then type your text, lining up the left margin (don’t center the entire text unless it’s a poem). Each new page should have your last name and the page number typed at the top left corner. Double-space your text.
When in Doubt on Formatting
Google Writer’s Digest. You can also purchase copies of Writer’s Digest magazines at most bookstores to get ideas about writing. Writer’s Digest is the industry gold standard.
Make sure your work doesn’t borrow phrases, lines, etc. from someone else. You will run into copyright issues that can get you or your parents sued. At the least, it will destroy your credibility with publishers.
Cover Letter and Resume
You need to include a formal cover letter and resume when submitting your work for publication. Use Microsoft Word’s business letter template to help you format your cover letter, which we call a “query letter.” Stay away from templates that are fancy or full of color. For tips on writing the query letter, go back to the Writer’s Digest website.
Places to Try
These are publications members of the Northern-Central California region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators suggested you try if you are interested in publishing your work.
- Balloon’s literary journal
- Bazoof: writer’s age 7-14
- Blue Marble Review: writers ages 13-22, pays writers
- Butcher Papers: writers age 13-21
- KidSpirit: art, fiction, poetry from ages 11-17
- New Pages: Resource for magazines that publish teen and college-aged writers
- Rattle: Poetry from writers 15 or younger when the poem was written and 18 or younger when submitted.
- Skipping Stones: Accepts all ages, including adults, international, multicultural.
- Teen Ink: For teens.
- The Telling Room: Has a section for writers age 6-18 and contests for teenagers.