Today, I have a very special guest post to offer, by Izzy Woods! *applause*
If you are a teen just like me and you’re tempted to go forward and write novels or other published stories, keep on reading!
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Writing Advice for Teens
I think a lot about writing, and I read and post links to stuff that writers will find useful. But today I’ve been thinking about what writing advice might be helpful to teens in particular. You know, people just starting out on the journey, people who are still in a school system which is telling you ‘Do things like this’, ‘Don’t do that’, and ‘Stop daydreaming and get on with your work’. What writing advice could I give that’s specific to people in this situation?
First of all, I would say believe in yourself. That’s important for any writer at all, but maybe even more so for teens. It’s so easy to think that we’re wasting our time writing, that nothing will ever come of it, that it’s just a ‘hobby’. You kind of find yourself waiting for that voice to tell you ‘Just give it up and go get a real job!’ But then you know, deep down, that you love writing enough to make it happen for real, even if the voices around you think you’re not being ‘realistic’. It might take a little time to get to where you want to be with it, but you’ve got that fire burning inside of you that just won’t die down. Don’t ever let it die down!
Value Your Preferences
Have confidence in what you like. Your best writing will come when you write on subjects you feel excited about. It might be tempting to write ‘safe’ in case your parents happen across your stories, but that can’t last long before the fire inside starts to dwindle. If you want to write about vampire lovers, do that. If you want to write about wars, do that. Write whatever makes you feel passionate, and try not to worry about what others might think. As Stephen King says,
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
Meaning, initially write for yourself. When you want to start rewriting and editing, that is the time to get input from others. But first and foremost, you’re writing for yourself, never forget that.
I know we’ve got homework and chores, and blah blah. But write whenever you can. You could try keeping a copybook, like me! It’s a great way to capture every flash of inspiration when you’re out and about, because it’s just so easy to forget your ideas once the moment has passed. It is for me anyway, my brain is like a sieve.
It also helps to pay attention, to the world, to other people, and to your own inner thoughts and feelings. Good writing reflects the world back to us through the writer’s unique observations. So to be become a good writer you’ve got to be an observer. This is another good reason to keep a copybook, because not only can you note down your ideas, but also things you notice. Like the way an old lady hobbles down the street, or how the sunlight feels when it glares into your eyes unexpectedly. All these little details will make your writing more vivid and alive.
Feedback is your Friend
Although it can be painful to take criticism on something you feel like you’ve put your heart and soul into, if you want to become an excellent writer, it has to be done. There’s no rush of course, you can take all the time you need to prepare yourself for the frightening, yet often invaluable world of ‘the critique’. But eventually you’ll need to take that step. Once you get used to receiving comments on your work, it does get easier, because you start to develop a sense of what advice to take on board and what to throw over your shoulder with a pinch of salt. And if you can stay confident and determined, constructive criticism can become your best friend. As writers, we can sometimes become a little blind to our work. The number of times I’ve been re-reading my work onscreen and not seen any typos, and then printed it out and BAM, there’s one and oh, there’s another… We can also become blind to plot holes, character inconsistencies, using cliché phrases, and other story elements. So we need another pair of eyes to help us see what we’ve skimmed and glossed over.
The most important thing for teen writers to remember is that we have a voice that is worth sharing. So go get typing and share some of it!
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Izzy Woods is an old woman, but is happy to report that at the age of 29 she is lucky enough to be a near-enough full time travel writer and spends most of her time on luxury Med cruises and hanging out in Tiki bars.