I wrote a forum thread post about this. But it got pretty long so I decided to share it on this blog too.
I was typing a reply about this on another thread, realized this was gonna get kinda long, and so I’m making a whole thread about it.
Here’s my advice to anyone in their teenage years who is feeling called to be a writer:
Write lots of stuff.
Don’t work on a novel unless you’re the Eragon kid and you have parents in the industry. Write short stories, write poems, write vignettes, write experimental visual novels. Write a LOT of stuff. Write stories based entirely on stylistic gimmicks, write stuff you absolutely have no interest in, write intentionally poorly– just do it often, and keep it short enough that you can stew on it without getting too attached. Have fun writing before you shackle yourself to a bunch of long projects that you still need more writing experience to pull off.
I tried shackling myself to big projects all the time, all of which failed badly except for collab fan projects where I wasn’t the driving force anyway. Pretty much anything I wrote at that age was pretty lame, but I have a ton of great memories of the stuff I wrote, especially all the weird gimmicky short stories, and I think they were a huge factor in how I developed my writing style and honed storytelling concepts that I hadn’t paid much attention to.
You can find almost everything I wrote back then online now, so I’ll share examples of the sorts of weirdo stuff I wrote back in high school. You can read if you like, but the examples are mostly on the kinds of gimmicks and formats I tried to force myself to go through with:
- Borax – A story with grammatically correct sentences made to be as long and difficult to parse as possible, telling an epic fantasy story in just a few paragraphs.
- Dead Trees – A second person, present-tense story about a soldier laying wounded on the battlefield.
- The Bulbears: Lordess to Nomad – A Pikmin parody fan fiction starring a minor enemy from the video game, but written like a bad fantasy epic. The dialogue is in haiku.
- S.T.A.R. – The story of a woman who undergoes great turmoil in life and becomes increasingly divorced from reality as she has mental breakdowns, and the narration reflects that.
- Waiting for the Mow – A “parody” play of Waiting for Godot, which I hadn’t read at that point, about characters standing at an overgrown front lawn.
- The Dream Accomplished – A fake news article about an alternate timeline where Martin Luther King Jr. became President. This is really terrible, moreso than anything else on here. Don’t read this.
- Righteous – A short story in the POV of an ambitionless nerd that does nothing but consume media all day, having an existential crisis about that.
- Madoka Precure – A fake series overview of the anime Madoka Magica as if it were a kids’ show.
- Facing the Temporal – A time travel poem…. or something???
Anyway, all of this is to illustrate the sorts of stuff that you should be trying to write while you’re a teenager and still growing as a writer. Branch out and do all sorts of weird stuff! Figure out what sorts of stories you actually want to write by writing as many types of stories as you can think of. Your dream project can wait, and it’ll be better for it. So start a writing journal, or try to do a write-X-pages-every-day challenge, or something. Just… probably, don’t share it all online like I did….
Does anyone agree/disagree with this? What did you do in high school for writing? Comment below!