Thursday, September 16, 2010

Advice for Young Writers

It's that time again. The fall session for the teen online writing classes have begun. In addition to the lessons and assignments, I like to post helpful tips from writers I know on our co-op forum. Since most of you are writers or the creative type of another kind, I'd be grateful for your input.

Published or not, you are all in this because you feel the call to write or share your creativity in some way. I'd love to hear what you have to say to young writers. Some will go on to become writers like us, and others will use this experience to polish their communication skills. Either way, your advice can be an encouragement and perhaps a spark that lights a writing fire for the future.

What kind of advice am I looking for? Anything that has to do with writing or all things creative. For example, when I asked Brian Ianieri, reporter for the Atlantic City Press, what his advice was, he shared several things. The first thing he mentioned was to use good resources like The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. His closing thought told them "to have fun" with writing. 

Ok, now that you know what a fabulous influence you can be, what IS your advice? Please share liberally if you are so inclined. Let me know, too, if I may share your name or if you'd rather remain anonymous. Any input you have is greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch!

Happy weekend:)



Image credit: dimitri c


  1. 1) Be yourself. Write from what is inside you.

    2) But, develop what is inside. Read, read, read literature of all kinds (fiction, history, theology, the classics, like Charles Dickens). All this reading becomes the compost of your thoughts and creativity.

    3) Write, write, write for anything you can - your school paper, reports, etc.

    4) Do not fall into the techno-style of lazy writing, abbreviating words and expressions, ignoring grammatical rules, misspelling intentionally. It is easier to slide into poor writing skills then to progress out of them.

    5) What you write is an extension of who you are, so take pride in your work.

    And, yes, you can use my name.


  2. A few thoughts:
    1) Good writers read a lot
    2) Write something every day, whether a diary, a weblog, a letter, a chapter of a novel, or a shopping list; write!!
    3)Believe in your story, if you don't, then no one will!
    4) Be original, don't try to be someone you are not!
    5) Always start with answering these two questions: what do I want to write and why do I want to write?
    6) have a mentor and be one to someone else!

    May you teach and inspire many young writers Karen! And yes, you may use my name.

  3. My Thoughts

    1. Read widely.
    2. Look for what works in a story and what bores you. Take notes.
    3. Write stories that you believe in, that you feel passionate about. Be true to the theme of the story.
    4. Develop your unique voice: a style that will be distinctly yours.
    5. Make a practice of writing a little everyday. Even if its just a page or to.
    6. A wonderful way to learn is to critique other people's works. It makes us aware of our own mistakes. While giving your feedback, be gentle and try to highlight the strengths first, than move onto the weaknesses.
    7. Whatever stage of writing you are at avoid cliches. There are always better ways of saying something. Find that better way.
    8. Go for unusual descriptions, unusual character traits. Something that the reader has not come across before.

    Karen, you can use my name. Hope my advice can help someone.


  4. Just do it - every day.

    Sorry, mine's a bit simple...

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Sorry Karen...made an error above. Here it is again:

    To All Young Writers:

    1) With your favorite pen in hand and a piece of blank paper, just open up your heart and write. Don't worry about correct spelling, etc. You can take care of that at some future point. When you begin, just let all the words and feelings and thoughts inside your heart come flowing out onto the paper.

    2) Write about what you know....your friends, your problems at school, your wonderful dreams for the future, your family, and what makes you smile. Write everything you love about life.

    3) Don't give a banana peel about someone who has criticized your writing. Just keep on writing! That will be the best way to prove that person was wrong.

    4) Writing is a true gift. It's something you will be able to take with you all through life. When you are happy, write. When life sends you disappointments, write. When there's a special occasion, write. When heartbreak threatens to shake you to your foundation, write. Writing will be your greatest friend.

    5) Use descriptive words. Practice. Put an apple in front of you and then write about it. What color is its peel? Do you think it's sweet or sour? Does someone you know make a pie out of? Little practice sessions like this are very helping to get you writing.

    6) Best of luck to you. Become a writer just for YOU and then you can share your writing with the world, if you so choose. Susan

    P.S. Hi Karen. If any of this is helpful, you can use my name and give them my blog address!

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

  7. What a wonderful "summons". I love the ideas that have been posted; some I'll certainly employ myself.

    Whether penning a book or undertaking any goal, I remind myself to be realistic. As a younger woman, I wanted quick results (which, unfortunately, often results in little more than frustration).

    My take away: Keep your focus.

    I'll be back to see what others have to say.


  8. My thirteen year old granddaughter has been an avid writer since she could put words on paper! She lives 1300 miles from me, but we are always close in sharing our writing.

    I always encourage her to read continually, to learn new writing skills with writing books (which I send to her) and online.

    I feel it is so important for young writers to find a mentor and/or a writing group. I've encouraged her and her dad to talk to the school and library system to set up young writers groups.

  9. When I read your question, Karen, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. Then I scrolled down to the first answer (Warren Balwin) and there it was, written more eloquently than I could have... I have nothing to add to that, except to second it... It's all about authenticity.

    Karen, thank you kindly for getting such a great dialog going.

  10. What wonderful input, thank you all so much for taking the time to share with me! Wise words from you all.

    Love what you said, particularly about being yourself. I think our "voice" shines through in this way.

    I agree, reading is important, as is writing everyday. Helps us cross train for writing.

    Yes, being an observer of other works is an excellent way to polish and develop our own work.

    It IS simple. The more we complicate it, the harder it can seem. Writing often is an important factor, I agree.

    Good points, all! Love what you said about the banana peel! :)

    Encouragement is key. What a blessing you must be to your granddaughter! And what a wonderful connection to share with her.

    Focus is another good point. It's key in so many areas of life, isn't it? Ah, and patience - good things like writing require time and practice.

    Yes, authenticity - something that is lacking today in so many ways. Honesty and integrity as well. You're right, these are good things for young writers to sow into their writing.

    Abundant thanks and blessings to each of you,

  11. Mine is very short.
    Even if you think only one person will read it, write it anyways. Just write.

  12. A few things that have helped me:

    *Seek God's direction before beginning

    *Find a few prayer warriors who will pray over your writing

    *Set goals for yourself & find someone to hold you accountable

    *Connect with other writers

    *Read books that will help you hone the craft

    *Sit down & get busy writing!

    Have a great weekend, Karen! God bless!

  13. Hi Karen .. be you .. and don't be discouraged.

    Make it fun for the kids .. somewhere for many many many many years (lots!) I didn't know I could write .. if I'd known - where would I be now?

    Can I write - certainly not conventionally .. but what I do works and is fun .. be creative ..

    The other thing .. I was 'put down at school' and so knew I couldn't do and therfore couldn't do .. look now - I suddenly try all kinds of things & hey presto .. it's fun - perhaps not brilliant, but in my style .. and appreciated - what more can you want?! Not much for this girl .. oh yes Aladdin's genie .. you're published?!

    I'm sure there's great tips above this comment and I'm going to read them now ..

    "You teachers are all so wonderful" .. offering so much to the kids of today .. Hilary

  14. Lynn,
    Short but sweet! And good advice, too. It is important to keep writing, no matter what some might say. Thanks so much!

    Good advice here too. Accountability and support is so important too. Wise words:)

    You make a good point here; I think peer involvement can make or break some experiences. Kind and gentle encouragement is a must, as is fun!

    Thanks so much to each of you for sharing,

  15. Don't get frustrated in the editing process. Take some time away from your story, do something else and them come back to it. Don't be satified with 'good enough'--try to really make the writing as strong as you can and your story will shine even more brightly.

  16. Hi Karen - The best advice I can think of is short and sweet:

    **Read, read, read!
    **Write, write, write!
    **Never, never, never give up!

  17. Hi Karen -

    All of the comments echo my own sentiments. I'd like to add one thing:

    Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.

    Susan :)

  18. I'm not a teen, or particularly young, but I am new to writing so I greatly appreciate your blog and all these comments. I'm a testimony that you're never too old to try something new.

    As for my advice: "just do it." I always had some excuse or reason to procrastinate. Once I committed to setting aside a short amount of time on a regular basis, I found that I'd exceed my time allotment.

    Also, I always keep a small notebook or voice recorder with me. It seems that as soon as I sit at the keyboard, my brain goes blank. My ideas flutter in throughout the day, in the shower, car, cooking dinner, etc. So I try to capture them in the book (or when driving, the recorder). Then when I feel dry, I open up my scraps and have the basis for something to write about.

  19. Angela,
    Yes, this is a good thing - to take a break. It really helps us to come back with a fresh perspective!

    Short and sweet and to the point, but very good advice!

    Susan R.,
    Yes, this is true, and above all things.

    Susan P.,
    Thank you for your sweet comments! Yes, setting aside time is important; I actually need to designate time for certain projects. Good advice.

    Thanks so much!

  20. Wow, thanks for asking! What an honor.

    Seek God and His direction for your writing.

    Surround yourself with other writers who are successful, and who have a heart to encourage you.

    Have fun! Be creative, explore new ways to say old things, and don't be scared to try something different.

    Have a blessed weekend, Karen,

  21. I'm actually working on a SCIENCE FOR YOUTH tab on my blog. I'll expand it to including writing. Hope to have it finished this weekend. It will have links to Web sites for youth that engages their mind and encourages them to do more than just sit and write.

    Why not sketch what you are drawing? Or write a science based books with a brother and sister who are able to visit famous people from the past and museums of the present. Write, draw, explore, and visit all at the same time.

    Stephen Tremp

  22. Karen:
    Tell them to not give into feeling down when they would get rejected.
    Tell them to write for themselves yet keep their audience in mind.(Don't use big words; it puts people off.)

  23. Jeanette,
    Well, my blog gang's the best and I knew they'd have good advice, you included! :) Thanks for your input!

    I saw that you were going to start that feature. That will be a good link to share with my students, thanks!

    Good advice! Yes, I agree about the big word thing - very important when relating to readers, particularly for younger writers.

    Thanks for your time!

  24. Hi Karen,

    I'd just say to write from the depths of your very being and don't let other people discourage you from your creative expressions.


  25. Be honest. Write what you know. Explode onto the page powerful, beautiful words. Read fantastic books that move you.

  26. Don't let your ego get in the way of your excellence. Learn from others, study the craft, and read the works of successful authors in your chosen genre.

    Writing is both a privilege and a responsibility.

  27. Clara,
    You know, this is where we start, isn't it? Great advice, for surely there will be those who try to discourage.

    Yes, honesty is so important, as is reading to expand our horizons. Good advice:)

    This is wonderful advice too. There are so many good resources out there to take advantage of. And yes, writing is a privilege and a responsibility!

    Thanks and blessings to each of you,

  28. My advice:

    1) Read, Read, Read
    2) Write, Write, Write
    3) Know When to Say, You're Right, I Should Change This
    4) Know When to Say, You're Wrong, This is My Voice


    Hope you have fun with your class!


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!