Emily’s Top Teen Writer Tips

Adults, you can read along too if you want – don’t worry, I won’t tell. But basically, these are my tips to teen writers that I wish I’d known a few years ago. Come and join me in my exclusive teen club!

Nah, I’m kidding. We all know YA writers are kids at heart. Also my Nanna – she plays Nintendogs on her DSi, which I think is pretty cool.

So. My tips. Here we go:

1) Get Twitter!

Chances are most people reading this post have Twitter already. But in you’ve stumbled onto this post through the Googles (welcome!), I’m telling you this right now: Twitter is possibly the best thing that has happened to me in my time as a writer. There is a huge community of writers on Twitter, a million ways to learn more about the craft, and a bazillion opportunities that pop up all the time. Without Twitter, I never would have become part of Aussie Owned and Read. I never would have met my awesome CPs. Which brings me to:

2) Get some CPs

For those of you not “up wif da lingo,” as it were, a CP is a critique partner. That is, a person made entirely of awesome without whom writers would be tearing their hair out.

CPs look at your writing. They tell you what’s working and what sucks. I’ll probably make a post devoted entirely to critique partners sooner or later, but in essence, you don’t want your best friend, and you don’t want someone who will trash your writing completely. Twitter is great for finding quality critique partners. Just make sure you find someone your own level, otherwise the relationship becomes one-sided.

3) Participate in NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo was the second-best writing decision I ever made (after Twitter). Before NaNoWriMo 2012, my first year, I really struggled with finishing stories. Four and a half novels later, I’ve learnt a lot about commitment and dedication. And typing fast.

Maybe not quite that fast. But seriously, even if you write the WORST first draft ever during NaNoWriMo, it’s a lot of words that you didn’t have before. And as my motto goes, “words is words.”

4) Don’t pressure yourself

Chances are, you’re not going to be published or agented as a teenager. This is NOT me saying that teens aren’t good writers – I think that’s a silly statement and not true by any means. But it IS me saying that all new writers are going to suck, not matter how old they are. It may take two years of suckage before your writing is good; it might take twenty. Everyone’s road is different, so don’t beat yourself up for not being a NYT Bestseller before you hit 18.

5) Try to get into a habit

Yeah, about that…

disney's mulan guilty smile gif

I know there’s the whole “don’t preach what you don’t practice,” thing, because honestly I don’t follow this one very well. Life gets in the way occasionally, but whenever I’ve stuck to a writing goal, it’s been so much easier.

6) Learn that first drafts suck

This is not open to interpretation. Your first draft WILL suck. It might suck less than someone else’s first draft, but it will by no means be anywhere near finished. I saw somewhere that a first draft is just the end of a brainstorm. When I first heard this I was all:

Rewriting didn’t compute in my brain. My reasoning was, “but I’ve already written all these words, and I’m just expected to DELETE most of them?” Yes. Yes, and it is awful and wonderful and lonely and joyful and the best and worst thing about writing.

So there you go. Those are my top teen writer tips.

If you’re a teen, what tips would you share with other teen writers? Or if you’re an adult, what do you wish you’d known as a teen?