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7 writing classes for young adults to take in NoVA this October

From mastering the personal essay to dabbling in poetry, here’s where to get inspired with words this fall in the Northern Virginia region.

teens writing with pencils
© goodluz / stock.adobe.com

When you’re young, there’s a strong interest in discovering what exactly you want to be when you grow up. From a superhero to a princess, the goals are never too far fetched to diminish hope. 

As you get into the teenage and young adult years, though, that initial dream will most likely have changed several times, eventually becoming an attainable passion that requires a skill set worth working toward. Writing, for example, is an essential skill to have when entering college and the workforce.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a doctor or a poet, having basic writing skills will take you far. And throughout the month of October, there are plenty of opportunities for teens, young adults and beginner-level writers to strengthen their craft in the Northern Virginia region.

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World Building with Thierry Sagnier
Oct. 1, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Every story is set in a scene, yet as a writer, developing those intricate details of the setting can often be challenging. This October, you can practice the art of world building in a two-hour course right in Arlington. Whether you’ve just discovered your interest in writing or are a practicing novelist, this workshop will teach everyone how to construct an environment for characters to live in. // The Writer’s Passage: 4444 Arlington Blvd., Arlington; $45

Writing in Nature: Down by the Water
Oct. 5, 10 a.m.-noon
A large aspect of creative writing is honing in on the imagery of your tale. That’s why this fall, the Loudoun Wildlife Conservatory is taking interested writers out to the wilderness for a two-hour session focusing on the benefits of writing while being in nature. Led by two experts, you’ll learn to discover yourself through the surrounding imagery of NoVA’s ponds, fauna and animals. // Rust Nature Sanctuary: 802 Childrens Center Road SW, Leesburg; $20 for members, $30 for nonmembers    

Fiction Writing Workshop with Cortney Maum
Oct. 9, 4:30-6 p.m.
Led by novelist Courtney Maum, who recently published Before and After the Book Deal, this intensive workshop will shake that writer’s block right out of your system. While this class is open to all levels, be sure to come prepared to widen your imagination with playful prompts, partner activities and a Q&A session that will get help you remember why you started to love writing in the first place. // Atheneum: 201 Prince St., Alexandria; $45-$60

Fall for the Book Festival
Oct. 11-12, times vary
This October, come out for the 21st annual celebration of literary arts, hosted by nonprofit Fall for the Book at George Mason University. While the celebration starts on Oct. 10, with lectures, readings and workshops, there are three specific classes being held on the final two days that are great for new writers, listed below.

So You Want to Write for a National Magazine?
Oct. 11, 10:20-11:45 a.m.
Think you may be interested in pursuing a career in journalism? Then this workshop hosted by former editor of AARP and now author, Ken Budd, is the one to attend. In the last decade, Budd has written for The New York Times, Smithsonian, National Geographic and more, making him the perfect host to share what it takes to write for a widely read magazine. // GMU Research Hall, Room 163: 10401 River Road, Fairfax; free

First Words for Young Writers: A Workshop
Oct. 12, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Writers are faced with criticism all the time, but what is the appropriate way to manage it? At this one-of-a-kind workshop led by authors Christina June and Katy Upperman, middle and high school students will learn how to respectfully critique the work of others, as well as integrate positive and negative feedback into your own writing. But be sure to reserve your spot soon, as each participant is required to submit a piece of work prior to the event. // Alan and Sally Merten Hall: 4441 George Mason Blvd., Room 2500, Fairfax; $15 

Learn to Write Poetry with Mark Fitzgerald
Oct. 12, 1:30-3:30 p.m.
From haikus to narrative poems, this hands-on workshop will cover it all. For just one afternoon, experienced poet Mark Fitzgerald will lead participants in a discussion of poetic elements found in well-known pieces of work. Plus, you’ll be able to experience a poet’s critique of each individual’s original poem, based off of a writing prompt revealed on the day of. // Alan and Sally Merten Hall: 4441 George Mason Blvd., Room 2500, Fairfax; $35

Inside Job: The Art of Personal Essay Writing—The Sequel for Teens 14 to 17
Oct. 19, 12:30-3 p.m.
This October, take an afternoon to become confident in your personal narrative, with help from award-winning writer and performance artist Bomani Armah. While this event takes place in Washington, DC, it’s worth making the drive, as your teen will walk away with a better understanding of himself and his writing style, eventually benefiting the application process to university. // William O. Lockridge / Bellevue Neighborhood Library: 115 Atlantic St. SW, Washington, DC; free

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