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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ypulse Toolbox: Online Teen Writing Communities To Know

YPulse has highlighted a few of the teen online writing communities that celebrate, workshop and occasionally even publish teen writing in print. Of course, this is only a small handful of what's out there, so feel free to add more great suggestions in comments! (Either here or over at Ypulse, since I have copied their material here, all in the name of increasing readership in both places.)

Here are their suggested sites:

InkPop – This site makes my former teen self and her novel-in-progress green with envy. Launched last year by HarperCollins, the online teen community and writing platform offers aspiring authors more than just the support and feedback of fellow, young writers. Invaluable as that is, what makes the space stand out is the involvement and interactivity of real editors and authors. And not just because of the promise to potentially get published (although that doesn't hurt), but also for the chance to get a glimpse (and a voice) in the world of professional publishing.

SMITHTeen – For weeks after my visit to the SMITHTeen office, I couldn't stop thinking of my own six-word memoirs. The exercise (as self-explanatory as it sounds: a six word autobiographical story) is totally addictive and oddly cathartic, so it's easy to see how that simple prompt keeps the small, but devoted international network of teens who frequent the site coming back for more (sometimes multiple times per day!). 800 of these were curated for the anthology "I Can't Keep My Own Secrets" last year, but with daily submissions pouring in, there are sure to be more to come.

Teen Ink -  Ypulse Youth Advisory Board Member Caro summed up her love for this site (which also publishes a national arts magazine and book series) in a post a while back and I don't think I could say it better myself. So in her words: "One of the reasons I liked it so much was that contributors were encouraged to do whatever they wanted artistically (within reason) in a safe environment. Also, artists and writers are able to get others’ opinions and possibly have their work appear in print! And while adults are involved – articles by teachers and librarians are featured in the magazine as well— in the end, Teen Ink's voice is the teenagers'."

Latinitas – Recognizing the need for a publication that focused on the experiences of Latina youth, back in 2002 two students – Laura Donnelly and Alicia Rascon – decided to take action and transform a class project into a monthly webzine especially for Latina girls. These days the outreach program has grown to include magazine writing, photography, web design, editing and film production, to further its mission of supporting teen journalists, and also cover the shrinking, but persistent gap in teen media coverage.

Teen Voices – As many longtime Ypulse readers know, this is where Anastasia got her start working with teens. Helping girls to amplify their voices and create social change through media, today Teen Voices continues to pursue their mission of turning young socially conscious activists into proficient journalists as well as a means to "achieve personal and community transformation by providing them with the tools needed to articulate what they know, want, need, and deserve." Here, here.

gURL – One of the original ezines, gURL has impressively managed to maintain its edge and signature style over the years, even as they've changed hands and evolved to keep up with a rapidly changing new media landscape. A safe, often snarky space, there's good reason girls are still drawn to gURL not only as a creative outlet where they can post their pictures, comics and stories, but also as social hub for shout outs and advice on everything from body image to sex ed to everything else.

826 Valencia and Girls Write Now – So these final two might be cheating a bit since most of the writing action takes place offline, but both mentoring organizations do an incredible job of spreading the empowerment that comes with creative writing on the ground, so I figured they deserved a mention. Through all in-school and on-site tutoring programs, 826 Valencia (now replicated in centers across the country) gives students the opportunity to publish their writing in an array of publications ranging from smaller chapbooks and ‘zines to professional-quality books with a national audience. And if you've ever stopped by one of their storefronts that house the tutoring projects like the Pirate Supply Shop in San Francisco, the Superhero Supply Shop in Brooklyn) that they do so with a healthy dose of irreverent charm. Meanwhile, a slightly more traditional set up, Girls Write Now has its heart in the same place, offering one-on-one mentoring to at-risk high school girls with dedicated mentors and volunteers includes sophisticated female novelists, poets, novelists, playwrights, journalists, essayists, and educators.

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