Hey, y’all, I’m about to dish out some advice to teen writers. Or young authors in general. Get your pens out.
You better take notes, because this is going to be some valuable stuff you won’t find in a normal clickbait article. No, I would never do clickbait.
Here’s my advice to teen writers, or to anyone in their teenage years who is feeling called to creative endeavors:
Write lots of stuff.
That’s it. that’s the main thesis.
I’m gonna post it again to make sure you get it drilled into you: Write Lots of Stuff.
Put that on a T-Shirt and sell it on Etsy or something. Whatever you do, make sure to 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. A high quantity of projects–FINISHED ones.
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.
As a younger teen, I tried shackling myself to big projects all the time. Naturally, they all failed badly except for collab fan projects where I wasn’t the driving force anyway. However, as I got into my later years of high school, I branched out, and tried a lot more stuff. 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 talking about my experiences 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.
Writing prompt websites are a good place to start, but you can just get together with your friends, just brainstorm random stuff you’d like to have fun writing. And some stuff that sounds really annoying that you’ll have to force yourself to do. If an idea sounds like it’s going to turn into a multi-month project… Can it for now. Save that for later, and work on what you can complete in a day or two.
Write lots of stuff!
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.
Or maybe you can share it! As long as you promise to keep it up forever. Your future self will appreciate it. Anyway, that’s it for my advice to teen writers.
Does anyone agree/disagree with this? What did you do in high school for writing? Comment below! And, now that you’ve written stuff, need a place to post it?
Behind the Scenes: I wrote a forum thread post about this. But it got pretty long so I decided to share it on the blog too.