Advice for Young Writers

From time to time I get questions for young people who are interested in writing. When I consider my own life, I really wish I'd had someone growing up who gave me the idea and the confidence that I could be a writer. I feel like I kind of stumbled onto it on my own. So here's some of what I would have wanted to know:

First, becoming a good writer can be a product of being a good reader. And don't limit yourselves to one genre or particular writer. Learn to appreciate writing in all of its forms--from poetry to science fiction to non-fiction. It will give you a broader perspective of different writing styles and possibly open up new avenues for you to consider.

Second, keep a journal. One day when you're old and decrepit, you're going to want to write a story that includes a teenager or a 10-year-old. By writing down your thoughts now, you'll be able to tap into that authenticity for the characters you'll write later.

Next, don't let your abilities now discourage you from thinking you can be a writer later. Remember, you're young and may not have the life experiences needed to truly write a masterpiece. And when you look back and read these early attempts, you'll probably laugh but know that right now it's more the desire than the ability to write that counts.

And lastly, don't think that writing well just happens. Take creative writing courses (though don't let anything a teacher or pupil may say discourage you) and network with other writers. If you can find a mentor that's great. But there are a lot of resources out there for you to tap into that can help you achieve writing success. Take advantage of writing opportunities: for a local newspaper, your school literary magazine, the year book even. You'll gain confidence this way and gradually work your way up to where you want to be.

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