Learnings from a former Youth Advocate: Writing

In my late teens I went to a youth conference that got me all fired up about youth advocacy.

I had finally found a passion in life. A job that I wanted to do. Getting the voices of youth heard by policy makers and change makers.

The Voice was a magazine I briefly got involved in, in Western Australia. I probably only went to two meetings, and started co-drafting an article with someone.

Writing

Moving back to Brisbane soon after, I decided to create a Queensland version – and surprise them with my first issue.
I wrote articles, poems, and music and book reviews.

The articles were unknowingly written for teenagers on the Autism Spectrum. 
I say unknowingly because it was many years until I found out that I am Autistic.

I spent hours and hours learning to format it in Microsoft Word and sold a bunch of Issue 1’s for $1.50.
After countless hours editing and rewriting, I finally faxed a copy of ‘The Voice: Brisbane Youth Magazine’ to the youth service who ran The Voice in Western Australia.

A few weeks later, when making more copies of it at my local youth service, I came across a fax. A cease and desist letter was attached. Boy was I mortified and scared. I couldn’t win a lawsuit. It would ruin me. I was only on Centrelink’s Youth Allowance!

I researched Copyright laws and realised I had to make my own magazine.

A New Magazine

Back to the drawing board I went, and created a street mag called Cookies: Brisbane Youth Magazine.

I researched business names.  I got a personal Australian Business Number (ABN). I contacted an Arts Lawyer about taxes, wages and accounting.

I wrote a business plan and designed a few administration forms. I loved the planning process and could sometimes spend hours or days working on various aspects of the magazine.

I released two issues of Cookies youth mag, and was really proud of the second issue (pictured below).

I got 75 cover pages printed at a printing company, and did 150 internals at Office Works.

Unfortunately I again violated Copyright Law by using a photo on the front page of Issue 2, that I had found on the internet.

While working on a third issue, my best one yet, my life got really busy. As mental health issues arose over the years, I tearfully let it go.
The time had passed for me to be running around with a not-profitable enterprise.

I kept writing every now and then. 

I drafted a memoir that has turned into Successful to Burnt Out and (coming in 2017) Elusive Identity.

Poetry turned into two poetry collections – Inaccessible and Hope Emerges.

Writing articles turned into blogging online.

My one eBook, released when I’d gotten really busy, has now turned into four eBooks in the Kindle store.

Learnings from a young writer

What are some learnings from being a young writer and youth Advocate?

Yes, you will rewrite. Stop denying this. All writers do. If they don’t rewrite they are shit writers. Write drafts. Allow time for this rewrite process.

Research Copyright Laws and taken them more seriously.

When you join a creative group in one state, then move states, you can not use the name of the original group you joined. Especially if they are also a business.
In a few years you will reread some of what you wrote and realise how much your writing has improved. Just do your best at the time.

Keep learning and practicing what interests you. My penchant for business planning and business administration came in handy quite a few times later in life.

For instance I now have a business plan for my writing career and love writing workshop plans.

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Further Reading

Do you run a street mag or youth project?

You can find project administration templates in my eBook on Community Event Management, called Fill in the Gaps.
You can read the Fill in the Gaps guide for free here. You can purchase a copy here.

Note: It doesn’t have a linkable Table of Contents, so if you can format a PDF file, please let me know!