Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net

Being a Teenage Writer

By Lorianne Watts
2003, Lorianne Watts 

recently got really serious about my writing. It's been an interesting experience for me, in more ways than one. 

"So, what are you up to, Lori?" 

"Oh, I'm writing a novel." 

Silence is the typical reaction. There are very few people who take you seriously when you're a "youngin'" and writing. Why? Maybe because people expect no more out of a teenage writer than a "lovey-dovey romance" or a "high-school drama" novel. I have talked to a lot of other fellow teenage writers, and they produce some pretty mature material (and I try to). Maybe the stereotype of young writers is because people expect it to be just some words thrown down on a piece of paper. That's not true either. I, personally, take a lot of pride in my work. It's a never-ending process until the last revision word is typed (or written). 

And I'm certain that teenage hormones filter through everyone's mind at least briefly when they attempt to make the connection between teenagers and writing. For me, writing is a release. It helps me relax and think better. Plus, I actually like writing when I'm in such an emotional stage of life. I try to show those emotions in my work, to try to make the reader connect with the characters in some way. 

Also, some people might think that teenagers who write won't produce quite as good a "quality" work than they will when they're older. They might think that teenagers haven't experience life, so maybe their work will be "naive," so to speak. And you know something? I agree. 

While dealing with the writing aspects of writing, you've also got to deal with life. There's school, grades, extracurricular activities, work, friends, parents, and all sorts of obligations. All these things have a tendency to shove writing to the backseat. With me, it's a major frustration. Writing is my release, and when it is forced to take a backseat, I tend to get cranky. 

All my life, I've had a very vivid imagination. I've been writing since I was seven, although back then they were just little, maybe 200-word stories entitled The Bad Sleepover or something similar. And while I used to laugh at the stories I wrote when I was little, I can now appreciate them. Not because they're any good, but because they are a source of inspiration to me. When you're seven years old, 200 words is a lot. When you're seventeen, 2000 words a day is a lot. Knowing that I could write ten years ago -- even just a little -- gives me more inspiration than almost anything else. 

When I'm stuck in a novel, whether it is the beginning, middle, or end, it helps to have past works to draw inspiration from, although I usually tend to turn to story generators or write a poem to get my imagination flowing again. Ten years ago, there was no writer's block. I saw a world with endless possibilities, and I wrote a lot of them down. The result? Many nonsense stories -- but at least they're stories. 

I'm still not sure if I want to be a professional writer, although I do know that I'm going to continue my writing. It's for fun as well as sanity purposes. I'm at the age (seventeen) where I'm trying to decide what college to attend and what career path to take. Not only is it stressful, but it's time consuming. If I could write all the time right now, I would. 

I recently heard someone say, "My take is that early on writers have more passion and later they have more knowledge of the craft." But it's important that while you learn the mechanics, you keep the passion. I believe that writing without emotion isn't good writing at all. Every type of writing -- whether it is journalism, personal, fiction, poetry, science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc. -- needs some sort of feeling. 

No matter what happens, if a writer (teenaged or not) is willing to work and revise, as well as take criticism and advice, she has a better chance of being successful. Plus, she's got to write, not just "talk the talk." The earlier you start, the more practice you get. And practice makes perfect! 

No matter what age you are, if you're truly serious about writing, I'm going to take you seriously, just like I've been taken seriously at the Forward Motion Community, because teenage writers -- including myself -- need that type of reaction. We need the serious criticism and the support. It helps us grow, and growing will help us be successful.  

Success is almost everyone's goal in life. No matter what it takes to get there, it's what we all want. It's the standard American dream. For me, I'll be successful as long as I have a source of income and I'm writing. That's my dream, to keep writing. And we all need dreams for inspiration, no matter what age.  

So, good luck to all young writers out there.  You're not alone. Hopefully, you never will be. And to everyone helping us "youngin's" along the way, thank you. Whether or not you realize it, you're a big source of assistance to us all.