Young writers find their voice at State Library's second Young Writers Conference

On Sunday 22 July, 100 young writers gathered at State Library of Queensland for the second ever Young Writers Conference, and the 2018 Young Writers Award ceremony.

While the Young Writers Award is now in its 22nd year, the Young Writers Conference is a recent initiative developed by State Library’s Reading and Writing team. A day-long event featuring panels, workshops, Q&A sessions and a special ceremony to announce the winners of the Young Writers Award, it’s an opportunity to showcase emerging Queensland voices and offer advice, encouragement and industry connections to writers aged 15–25.

Just like the inaugural Young Writers Conference, which took place in November 2017, the 2018 event was a sell-out success. The packed program featured key insights for writers of all genres, from literary and commercial fiction to poetry, memoir and essays, from a stellar line-up of award-winning Queensland voices: Sam George-Allen, David Burton, Claire Christian, Shastra Deo, Laura Elvery, Nicholas Lochel, Grace Lucas-Pennington, Emily O’Grady, Jackie Ryan and Yen-Rong Wong.

The day kicked off with a panel of young writers sharing their journeys to publication, and continued with a session on non-fiction, freelancing and working with editors, and a choice of workshops on world-building, character or plotting a novel. In the afternoon, participants chose between seminars on how the publishing industry works or the craft of creative writing, followed by a short Q&A session featuring Megan McGrath, from the State Library’s Reading and Writing team, and Jackie Ryan, Programs Manager at the Queensland Writers Centre.

Top tips from this year’s conference presenters included networking with your writing peers, making the time to write, regularly submitting your work, dealing with rejection, celebrating your wins and finding your writing voice.

The day concluded with the 2018 Young Writer Award ceremony, which took place on the Queensland Terrace over afternoon tea. State Librarian Vicki McDonald presented the winners, runners-up and highly commended writers from the 15–17 years and 18–25 years categories with their prizes, and the crowd enjoyed readings from winners past and present. The 2018 winning stories are now available to read on the State Library website:


Helen Yesberg, 2018 Young Writers Award winner (15–17). Photo by Stephen Henry Photography.

Helen Yesberg, 2018 Young Writers Award winner (15–17). Photo by Stephen Henry Photography.

The lists of all 2018 Highly Commended entries, plus information about the awards and stories by past winners, can also be found on the State Library website. Congratulations to all our 2018 entrants!

The conference and awards were another wonderful celebration of emerging Queensland voices, and a source of inspiration and encouragement for young writers looking to develop their work and make valuable connections with peers and industry professionals alike. We can’t wait to do it all again in 2019!

Carody Culver, A/Project Officer, Reading and Writing, Community Connections


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