5 Things I Want Aspiring Young Authors to Know

Aspiring Young Authors

This post is for the young writers of the world!

And I admit it – technically I’m still a “young writer” myself.  I’m not even a quarter of a century old yet!  😛  But I’m thinking specifically of the teen and preteen writers among us.

Guys, I’ve been where you are now.  It was one of the best times of my writer life – all about exploration and the joy of story!

I’ve been writing since I could staple paper together and pencil words inside.  It’s always been a part of me.  Maybe that’s also true for you, or maybe you found your love for writing recently.  Either way, if you’re an aspiring young author, here are some things I want you to know, because I wish someone had told them to me long ago…

1. Your eagerness for storytelling is a gift of God.

To some of us, storytelling is as natural as breathing.  We tend to forget that not everyone has characters, plot lines, high stakes, and entire worlds kicking around their imaginations.

This is a gift!

Don’t be afraid to write the stories that excite you, move you, and interest you, even if other people don’t take those stories seriously or tell you that writing (or that genre) is a waste of time.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, either!  The world is full of readers, and they love all different kinds of books.

God gave you this desire to write, and furthermore, He has given these stories to no one but you.  Your life is unique, your experiences and perspective are unique, and God gave you these stories – no one else can tell them the way you do.  Embrace that!  Seek Him constantly, and earnestly pray that you may serve Him with how and what you write.

Tell your stories fearlessly for His glory, praising the Author of Life for making you creative in His image.

Me when I was  about 13 (far left), with one of my many story folders, talking art and story with my sister (right) and friend (center). :)

Me when I was about 13 (far left), with one of my many story folders, talking art and story with my sister (right) and a friend (center). 🙂

2. This is only the beginning. Truly.

You probably have daydreams of being the next famous teenage bestselling author (I certainly did).  In reality…that’s probably never going to happen.  Sorry. 😉  If you are serious about writing, you’re not after fame, glory, or money – and you’re in this for the long haul.

Read broadly.  Read lots.  Dabble in any genre that interests you.  Read books about writing.  Try to finish the books you start writing. Study what makes the books you love so good.  Don’t be afraid to query and submit your stories!  But don’t put all your energy into publishing at this point.  Right now, your goal is to learn and have fun.

It might take years to develop your skill to the point where your stories are publishable.  As you get older your writing will grow richer, deeper, and stronger.  Even if it takes years for your books to “go anywhere,” that time will be well spent.  Trust me, you will look back and be grateful you didn’t land a publishing deal when you were much younger.  I am so thankful that daydream didn’t come true for me.  My books were not ready.  They’re still not ready!  But that’s okay – Lord willing, I will keep growing and improving.  My books will “go places” in His perfect timing.

Don’t focus on dreams of young fame, fun as that could be. Fill your head with good stories – and write, write, write.  Your best books will emerge with time and practice. 

(Image from teen.com.) Christopher Paolini, whose first book was published when he was 19. It probably won’t happen to you, much as I hate to say it!

3. Find the RIGHT critics (and learn how to take critique).

I have shed many a tear over “scathing” critiques from friends.  Please, take it from me, and don’t treat your friends as professional critics!  Even if they write stories too, they will be biased because you are their friend.  If they’re around your age, they probably don’t know any more about writing and publishing than you do.  Also, they may unintentionally twist your story to fit their own vision by campaigning for the changes they want.  Be wary of making big changes to your projects because of advice from friends, and don’t let the value of your story rest on whether your friends love it.  Even if they hate it, that doesn’t make it a bad story.

Similarly, be wary of treating your parents as the ultimate critics.  They are probably biased because they love you and will always be impressed by your work, even if it needs a lot of editing. 😉

Seek out older, experienced writers who can give you constructive criticism.  Look for writer groups and communities where you can get good advice.

And always remember, your book is not YOU.  It is a project, a product, and it is not perfect.  Accept critiques with an open mind, consider the suggestions others give you – and don’t let it crush you.  There is no reason to be defensive. If you don’t like the suggestions, politely thank the person who gave them to you, and do your own thing!

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4. Your story’s NOT going to get stolen (but think before you post it online).

A lot of young writers (and their parents) are anxious about plagiarism.  My mom was so concerned about it that she refused to let me share my works with any more friends after a certain point!

Basically, you don’t have to worry about this – because it never happens to aspiring authors.  Here is a very helpful article with a video that says this better than I could.

However, there is one thing to be aware of.  Sharing your work in a public place online counts as self-publishing it.  I’m talking about putting it on your blog, on a public forum, or anywhere on a website where the general public can access it. Sharing your work like that will disqualify it from being accepted by most publishing houses, because they will not generally take books that have already been published elsewhere.

You don’t have to worry about plagiarism unless you’re already super famous!  But be aware that posting publicly online counts as self-publishing.  Unless that’s your plan, stick to sharing in private settings.

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5. At some point, it’s probably going to get hard.

Chances are, when you’ve learned a lot about the craft of writing, you will reach a point where it stops being fun and becomes hard, HARD work.  You will feel like you’re navigating around a billion tiny rules, and you’ll struggle to remember and implement them all.  It’s overwhelming, and frustrating, and not enjoyable.

Push through that!

Every serious writer goes through this phase – some probably more than once!  It is a learning phase.  Eventually you will reach a place where the “rules” you’ve learned become second nature and you can create freely again.  You’ve been busy building a strong foundation for your writing.  It will become fun again, I promise!

When the going gets tough…keep writing.  You will get back to the fun again!  And your stories will be better because of it.

You'll get there!!  Just keep swimming.

You’ll get there!! Just keep swimming.

Some Good Resources for Young Authors

Go Teen Writers

Helping Writers Become Authors

Resources for Young Writers – The Creative Penn

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If you’re a young writer, what do you write?  What are your stories about?  🙂

Fellow “older” writers, what are some things you wish someone had told you about writing when you were young or had less experience?  Please share, in the comments!

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you, Orrieness. #1 and #5 are ways you have specifically encouraged me!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad! <3

      What are some things you wish you could say to your own self when you were a younger writer? 🙂

      Reply
      • Hmm… I don’t know. I was always pretty grounded in the sad facts.
        I guess the main thing would have been not to turn away piano students in order to stick to just writing, but to have picked up more students earlier. However, someone *did* say that to me pretty early on, and I wisely took their advice. The students didn’t stay on a waiting list for long.

        Hmmmm… I don’t know! I had parents and friends telling me all of the things you did above. I just needed a refresher course on #1 and #5 lately!

        Maybe to have blogged more.

        Reply
  2. I would have told myself that fanfic is fine, and to make more fan characters. A lot of those chars have migrated to original stories now, and I’m soooo glad I did the groundwork for figuring them out in the fanfic playground. 🙂

    Reply
    • That’s always nice! I haven’t quite recycled any old characters yet, since the fanfic I wrote was WAY back when I was a small child and I’m not sure I could pull any interesting characters out of it, but I have some other characters I created for collaborative projects that I can resurrect someday. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Good post for the young writer. I’ve kept some writings from my childhood. I’m so thankful my skills have improved!

    Reply

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