Thu 21 November 2019
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Scottish Book Trust: Young Writers Awards
Heather Collins, Children's Programme Coordinator of the Scottish Book Trust, writes a guest post for the Young Writers' Hub about the Young Writers' Awards.

In my role as Children’s Programme Coordinator for Scottish Book Trust I’m very fortunate that I get to work on projects with authors who inspire children to read and write. My favourite project to work on however is the one which sees young people inspiring me and my colleagues with their talent.

We launched the Young Writers Awards in 2009 after realising that there were many incredibly gifted young writers who could benefit from a little guidance and support. The programme gives three Scotland-based teenagers, age 14-17, the opportunity to be mentored for six months by an established author. They meet regularly for group workshops and are also introduced to a variety of industry professionals, from editors to agents. At the end of the programme we take them to visit a top London publisher and last year all three of the young mentees performed their work at Scottish Book Trust’s New Writers Showcase in front of an audience of publishers, journalists, booksellers and arts organisation representatives. The young writers finish the programme having had the opportunity to develop their writing skills with the help of a professional but also with a greater understanding of the world of publishing. It’s a superb opportunity.

Our very first mentor was teen author Keith Gray. He led great workshops and made some video podcasts of his top writing tips which you can still access via our website or on YouTube. Our mentor in 2010 was teen author and playwright Cathy Forde. Cathy was a fantastic mentor; her enthusiasm was encouraging to us and to our young writers. The relationship between mentor and mentee is key to the success of a programme such as this and we couldn’t have asked for more. You can also watch videos of Cathy’s creative writing tasks on our website.

Because we can only offer three places on the programme it means that the Young Writers Awards is extremely competitive; we received over one hundred applications last year. There was no doubt that our final three mentees in both years were more than deserving of the opportunity. You can read their work on the Scottish Book Trust website.

As we’d had to disappoint so many writers we decided to hold our very first Young Writers Conference in November 2010. The idea was to offer a one day condensed version of the Young Writers Awards. We had workshops from poet Ryan Van Winkle, novelist Jason Donald and playwright Ella Hickson, as well as performance from Words Per Minute and a discussion about the publishing industry from Francis Bickmore, editor at Canongate, and literary agent Lucy Juckes. The day was a huge success with over forty young writers taking part. We’re planning to hold another conference in November.

Scottish Book Trust is passionate about inspiring readers and writers of all ages but what’s fantastic about working with young writers is the potential for growth. I’m sure that one day I’ll see the work of the young writers we meet sitting on bookshelves. It doesn’t get more exciting than that.

We have recently launched the 2011 Young Writers Awards and are currently accepting applications. The programme will run from October 2011 to February 2012 and I absolutely can’t wait to get started.

Scottish Book Trust is the leading agency for the promotion of literature, reading and writing in Scotland. For more information please visit www.scottishbooktrust.com

Heather Collins

Children’s Programme Coordinator, Scottish Book Trust

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