Regional contests and publications offer a logical first route for budding writers. Individual schools often collect and publish their students' best work each year.

In Washington, fourth- through ninth-graders who live in the District or attend District schools can submit stories, essays and poems to the new District Lines Magazine, P.O. Box 32325, Washington, D.C. 20007.

Sixth- through ninth-grade District students have until March 7 to enter the Parkmont School's annual poetry contest. Submit two poems only per student to: Parkmont Poetry Festival, 3100 Military Rd. NW, Washington, D.C. 20015. (202) 537-0992. Winners' work will be published in a handbook.

The best works of students who attend free creative writing workshops by the Institute for the Preservation and Study of African-American Writing are published once a year. The anthology is free to workshop partipants, $3 for nonparticipants. The next of the twice-yearly series of workshops begins Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Anacostia branch of the D.C. public library. To register, write or call the Institute: Lansburgh Cultural Center, 420 Seventh Street NW, Room 1A, Washington, D.C. 20004. (202) 737-5525. Workshops are open to all Washington area students aged 9 to 13.

In recent years, the Cheshire Cat Book Store has sponsored a spring fiction writing contest, with winning entries printed and available at the store. Plans for this year are indefinite. Call (202) 244-3956.

Aspiring playwrights, ages 5-17, have until Dec. 15 to enter Children's Radio Theater's annual playwriting contest. Call or write Children's Radio Theater, 1314 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. (202) 234-4136.

A variety of national publications also feature children's writing. Among them:

Cricket, Box 100, La Salle, Ill. 61301. Ages 5-14. Considers only material that complies with monthly contest rules. Sample copy $1.95. Subscriptions $19.80 a year or available in libraries.

English Journal, Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz. 85281. Ages 12-17. Poetry only. Sample copy from Director of Periodicals, National Council of Teachers of English, 1111 Kenyon Rd., Urbana, Ill. 61801.

Merlyn's Pen, P.O. Box 716, East Greenwich, R.I. 02818. Grades 7-10. All kinds of writing. Individual subscriptions $8.75. Classroom rates available. Four issues a year. Free sample copy.

The McGuffey Writer, 400 McGuffey Hall, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056. Grades K-12. Prints only material (stories, essays, poems, cartoon, illustrations) that complies with quarterly themes. Sample copy $2. Subscriptions $10.

Reflections, P.O. Box 368, Duncan Falls, Ohio 43734. National poetry magazine put out twice yearly by students at Duncan Falls Junior High School. Publishes original children's poems. Subscriptions $3.

Scholastic Scope, 730 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10003. Junior and senior high school students, aimed at students reading slightly below grade level. All kinds of writing. Classroom subscriptions $4.95. 24 issues.

Scholastic Voice, 730 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10003. Junior and senior high school students. All kinds of writing. Classroom subscriptions $4.95. 18 issues.

Stone Soup, P.O. Box 83, Santa Cruz, Calif. 95063. The nation's oldest extant children's literary magazine (it began publication in 1973), it publishes short stories, poems, book reviews and artwork by children aged 7 to 13. Five issues a year. Subscriptions $17.50. Available in many school and public libraries, including Martin Luther King Memorial Library and Capitol View branch library.

Wombat: A Journal of Young People's Writing and Art, 365 Ashton Dr., Athens, Ga. 30606. Ages 6-16. Poetry, stories, articles and artwork. Subscriptions: $16. 8-10 issues a year.

Young Authors, 3015 Woodsdale Blvd., Lincoln, Neb. 68502. Up to age 16. Poems, short stories, articles. Subscriptions $13.95.