Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hello Young Writers Wherever You Are

The young writer can sometimes be the butt of a lot of abuse. "What do YOU have to write about?" they may be asked. "You haven't experienced life!" another states officiously. "Why don't you worry about that later - just go out and have fun now, you're only young once. The Writing can wait."

Your answers are, in order, you have plenty to write about, if you're alive you're experiencing life, and if you're a writer THAT IS fun - oh, and BTW, thank heavens you're only young once!

See, now you're armed.

I began writing when I was about 12 and I just sort of skipped the short stuff and went right into novel mode. I sold my first book when I was 21 (back in the prehistoric typewriter days) and it was published by Doubleday when I was 22 (a western novel titled Night Of The Flaming Guns - oh, and I wrote it in the first person as a middle aged man). There was a healthy blob of luck in that scenario, but there was also a lot of writing. I had a Godmother who read my work, critiqued and criticized. My advice to the new young writer is to find someone like that. Could be a family friend, a trusted teacher, a relative, someone to whom you give free rein to criticize your writing and who you trust enough to actually listen to.

Being a young writer today, you have a leg up on me when I was young. Back then there was no web (ahhhhhh, run screaming into the night in horror!). There were a lot of visits to libraries (where I borrowed most of my books for research or reading as I was broke), visits to bookstores, to see what was new on shelves (and to make an occasional paperback purchase back when they cost 50 cents), and getting lucky and meeting an author or two along the way.

Avenues to publication were limited as well - pretty much ink on paper or nothing. Now you can blog (like I'm doing here) Tweet (like I'm doing there at
You can even download a toolbar from StumbleUpon that can send you in all sorts of interesting directions on the web. for inspiration. There are still the print outlets, there are Ebooks and Ezines. You can easily create your own Ezine or newsletter and distribute it. There are sites where you can post your writing and have it critiqued, or just read. Heck, you can just blog some of your fiction for folks to read and invite comments - then get the word out that it's there. Stone Soup is still on the web as well, a place for young artists and writers. Want to find some markets where young writers have a better shot? You might try the free newsletter at Writer Kid.

What I'm trying to get across here is if you're a writer of any age write (did I mention you have to read too? - comes with the territory). If you're young, don't let yourself be discouraged by someone telling you you aren't ready. You don't have to have a major tragedy or traumatic even in your life to prepare you to be a writer. You simply have to live. If you've fallen off a bike or had a stomach ache you've experienced pain. If your dog died you've experienced grief. If you wonder what makes things go or gaze up at the sky in stupefied amazement you have curiosity. Use those things. Expand. Give those experiences to your characters and your writing will bloom.

Keep writing and eventually you'll reach your goals. Is it a lot of work? Yep? Fun? Mostly. Will you become famous? (hahahaha - well, maybe - not many writers become famous and aside from the desire to sell a whole lot of books and be appreciated, not many I know want a whole lot of fame, just a whole lot of time to write).

The main thing to understand is 'rejection' is a major part of a working writer's life, one who freelances and submits fiction for publication. Don't get discouraged and don't let the naysayers get to you. Think of rejection as a learning opportunity (or if you're in a bad mood, that some jerk didn't know what the heck he or she was doing).

Rewrite and revision are also both a huge part of a writer's life so get used to it. No professional writer got to where he or she is today without lots of rewriting and revision - and lots of rejection.

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