I went to an event for writers last week - a chance to chat and mingle with other children's/YA lit writers, all of us at varying stages of our careers/projects, etc. It was really nice to talk to other writers to feel like I'm not alone in this crazy publishing endeavor. In fact, it made me think of what I advice I would give to writers just starting out - what advice I would give to myself years ago. Here are a few thoughts:
* Join a group like SCBWI, especially a regional chapter. Attend conferences.
* Connect with other writers online. Read blogs, friend people on facebook, follow them on twitter.
* Verlakay.com is another good resource - writers swear by the message boards, which offer a wealth of information about writing.
* Start a critique group. Workshop your writing.
* Other places to find readers: goodreads.com, librarything.com.
Mind you, I'm still struggling with putting myself "out there" in this way. It's difficult to keep up with all of the online stuff. But I can really see the value of it now. Writers need each other for encouragement, and for help promoting each other's work, and spreading the word about new books, in general. Even if you're just starting to write, that doesn't make it too early to become a part of the community. And if you do - look for me!
And if you're a teenager, there are a bunch of publications that accept ONLY submissions from teens. I created a list of them on my blog: http://alisamlibby.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/stuff-for-young-writers/.