A GL success story! Dallas Woodburn

Author and Write On! For Literacy founder Dallas Woodburn knows what it’s like to have one little event change her life.
When she was in fifth grade, her writing was published in the November/December ‘98 issue of Girls’ Life. Pretty cool, huh? Since then, Dallas has established Write On! For Literacy, a program that makes writing fun for kids. She teaches tons of workshops through her program and she just completed another novel that she hopes to get published.
Read on to find out more about her program and see what advice she has for girls who are just starting to write!
GL: What was it like to be published in fifth grade?
Dallas: It all started when I got a $50 grant from my elementary school to do something creative. I loved writing, so I put some of my poems and short stories together in a book. Then I printed out copies of the book and sold them to pay back the grant that I had received in school. They sold out in a couple of days. I was just over the moon.
That’s amazing how something so simple could start such a movement in your life.
It’s so true! And I just think what if I didn’t have the support? My whole life would be different now. I learned so many lessons through writing that have helped me in different areas of my life. Things like dealing with rejection and having confidence. I sent my book out to anywhere that I thought would be interested, including GL. I still remember getting the phone call from the editor and I was just so excited. And then after it was published, getting letters from other girls all over was such a neat experience.
What do you like about writing?
I think what I really love about writing is [that] I find such a sense of freedom in it. I think writing can be such a relief when you’re struggling with something in your life. Whenever I feel a strong emotion or I feel frustrated or upset, my first instinct is usually—I need to write about this. And the act of reading is so magical—the ability to connect with someone through words on a page. I’ve always just thought that was the neatest thing, as a reader but also as a writer.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Oh, I have a lot! [Some of] my favorite books of all time are The Great Gatsby and I love Catcher in the Rye. For younger kids, I really love Joan Bower, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creach and I love wall-ball books by Dr. Seuss. I also always encourage kids to write letters or emails to some of their favorite authors because it’s been really neat how many authors I’ve actually heard back from. Yeah, even some really big name authors like Meg Cabot.
Oh, wow.
Yeah! I wrote her a letter [when I was in middle school]. And I think I actually sent her a copy of my book and she wrote back. I still have it saved, a hand-written letter from her. I think a lot of times there’s this barrier between an author and kids, and they think, 1) there’s no way I could ever do that, and 2) it’s just this name on the cover, and to think that’s a real person is just you know, crazy.
What would you tell a young person who wants to get published someday?
The biggest thing I would tell them is just not to give up. No matter what your dream is, you’re going to have to go through some discouragement and persevere. And like with my first book, I sent a copy of it to the local newspaper in my hometown, they [never] even replied to my letter. I was pretty sad for a little bit but then I just thought, you know, I’m going to send it to other places. And it got a little review in Girls’ Life and the Los Angeles Times. If I had stopped with that one disappointment, I never would’ve had the other exciting things happen.
What advice would you give to a girl who wants to try writing but doesn’t really know what to write about or where to start?
One thing that really works for me is to set a timer for eight minutes. A good place to start is with a line of dialogue, like “I can’t believe you did that.” Then, set your timer and write til [it] goes off. [Don’t] let your pen leave the page and you’re not allowed to edit or stop. After the timer goes off, [then] you can go back and make changes. I think sometimes when we feel stuck we have a little editor in our head saying, “Oh, I don’t know if that’s good or what am I doing?” So if you can get past that, I think it really helps.
You’ve written a manuscript that you’d like to get published. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
It’s about a young girl, she’s 16 years old, and she’s having some problems in her life. And so she actually turns to writing, and through the novel, you get glimpses of her life through her stories. I hope that readers just come away feeling inspired, and also, able to deal with their own problems.
For more info on Dallas’ writing programs visit
And be sure to check out Dallas’ website at for writing contests, writing prompts (prompts give you ideas on what to write about), and more!


by Megan Parker | 2/1/2016