Beginning writers get tips for success – Emporia Gazette

A room full of eager writers attended a writing workshop at the Emporia Public Library on Saturday.

Jenny Tatman, public services librarian, led the resources for beginning writers workshop, which is the first in a series of three. Local authors Tracy Million Simmons and Hazel Hart also presented.

Attendees explored the variety of creative writing options beginning writers can explore. While writing a best-selling novel may be a dream for some, there are many areas where writers can flex their “writing muscles.”

“Fiction, journals, blogs, newspaper and magazine articles — even writing screenplays,” Tatman said. “Each are types of creative writing. You may be writers already.”

The Emporia Public Library as well as the State Library of Kansas have many resources to help beginning writers. Obviously the library has the books — numerous titles focused on becoming a writer. But there are also writing classes available through the State Library of Kansas.

“The state library website has a number of easy-to-use, self-paced online classes available for free,” Tatman said. “They have a wide range of topics like creative writing, editing and grammar, genre writing and keyboarding.”

The courses cover the basics, but also dive deeper into specific genres including comedy writing and paranormal romance. The courses can be accessed at and are in the skill builders universal class section. A state library card is needed to access the courses. A state library card can be obtained on the second floor of the library. All that is needed to complete the application is a state issued ID and an email address.

“I’ve enrolled in several courses myself,” Tatman said. “As you complete assignments or submit writing you do get feedback from an instructor — usually within 24 hours.”

Simmons and Hart both agree feedback is important to the writing process. Both authors encouraged the budding writers to connect with other writers, share their work and make connections. Writing can often be a solitary pursuit, but the interaction with other writers can serve as an encouragement as well as form of accountability.

“Join a writing group or a critique group and talk with other writers,” Simmons said. “Your writing friends will ask you what you are working on and want to see your writing. I know when I go to my writing group I don’t want to tell them I haven’t written anything all month.”

The authors provided other useful tips for writers, one of which was read — read a lot. Reading other books and articles helps writers develop their own skills. Reading introduces writers to other styles, types of characters and ideas.

“Read everything you can in your interest area — read what you want to write” Hart said. “Find out how your genre is written. You may add something new or do something a bit different, but for the most part the structure is similar.”

Other tips included:

Write what you know

Practice by writing a little every day

Don’t give up even in the face of rejection

Look for characters in your daily interactions

“I have found you just have to write,” Simmons said. “Try not to get slowed down by what comes next. Just write. You can’t worry about an agent or publishing until you have something written, so just write.”

The next writer’s workshop will be held at 11 a.m. April 15 with the focus being on publishing and self-publishing. At 11 a.m. May 6, the workshop is about marketing yourself and your work. The workshops are free to the public.


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