Some people tend to describe me as an old soul. I think it’s just a euphemism for being quiet and “in-my-own-head” a lot of the time, but that’s fine by me. I’ve loved stories ever since I was a child, plucking Greco-Roman mythology books off of the lowest shelf at the school library since it was the only one I could reach. I suppose in many ways, I’m still a child, but I’m an adult too. And, no matter my age, I love to write. So, being a teenager and a writer, here are some common misconceptions and realities when it comes to writing (books/blogs/poetry/all else) as a teen.
MYTH- You need to be an adult to write.
FACT- Writing starts since you first learn how to write your name. Writing starts ever since you write the words “the end” for the very first time. However, if you define true writing as publication, then that brings me to my next myth…
MYTH- The youngest writer in the world is (insert age here).
FACT- The youngest writer in the world can be in the first week of infancy (ok, maybe not) for all you know. The youngest worldwide-known, published author is a different matter entirely.
MYTH- You have no idea what you’re doing when writing as a teenager. Give it up and wait until you’re older.
FACT- Be honest with yourself here, do any of us know exactly what we’re doing each and every day? The only way to learn how to write is through experience. Write now, write often. There are adults out there who have no idea how to write because somebody’s bad advice scared them from ever trying. Do not be afraid. Write and learn from it.
MYTH- Alright, so this is a teenager myth this time. School is taking up too much of my time to be a writer. I feel stifled by the institution and cannot write.
FACT- Try to be open-minded. There are plenty of writers in the world who grew up feeling just as you did. Writing is from experience. School does not make writers. Writers make writers. BUT it’s the writer’s experiences that truly make the writer. Yes, even school can make the writer. You can take any class and find poetry in it, even calculus, as one of my good high school teachers said. If you cannot find something to inspire you in every class, then you’re doing it wrong. History has the word “story” in it for a reason. If somebody couldn’t find something to inspire them in a certain field- inventors and geniuses of all sorts- then why would they have discovered the branches of science/math as they did? Something inspired them. Somebody invented the computer or geometry, philosophy and psychology. If you can find that inspiration too, then you can take it and write your own stories from it.
MYTH- All teenagers write about is teen angst. Any teenager can do that.
FACT- Again, writers write from experience. I went through high school angst, staring out a window and going, “Is that all there is?” But all writers insert themselves into their stories. Take Kafka, for example. He underwent periods of depression and isolation, and you found those aspects in his works, like, “The Metamorphosis”. Your writing is your soul. Embrace that.
MYTH- The publishing world isn’t going to take me seriously.
FACT- Treat writing with the respect it deserves. Write to practice and further your craft. Keep a journal of ideas. Submit to magazines and address professional writing people (shout-out to the ever-wonderful Stephanie Taylor here) with respect in order to garner respect for yourself. It’s never too early to make a name for yourself out there. And it’s never too late either.
Sophia M. Whittemore (a teenage writer)