Changing the world's opinion… as soon as we finish this math homework
Writing is a very solitary thing. It requires patience, quiet, and being alone for long periods of time. Of course, you can argue that you aren’t ever really alone because that ever-annoying voice in your head never stops talking to you, but the point remains that writing is a personal hobby geared toward the individual. However, oddly enough, a big part of the whole writing and publishing process is community. You can’t go it alone; you need a support system, people to laugh with, talk with, write with. You need someone to read over your drafts and give you honest feedback. You need someone to brainstorm plot ideas with (well, sometimes) and to encourage you when you feeling like your writing is crap. You need people like you. Whether you’re writing for fun and seriously toward publication, community makes all the difference.
This is a big reason why I love WordPress, and really all blog communities. It allows so many teen writers to connect and interact and write and share their work. It helps each of us grow and improve and enjoy ourselves. I swear, I would be nowhere if I hadn’t met all of you wonderful people as well as the amazingly talented people on Twitter. The support, the insight, and the sheer brilliance of others have made me a better writer and really, a smarter, more mature person.
But this is not about me. I hope, and I assume, that community has shaped all of you as writers, too. Feedback from people you trust is invaluable, and so is having a support system, and having people to go to when you’re feeling lost about what comes next in your book. Plus, community is fun. Writing gets stressful sometimes, and there’s nothing more refreshing than going into a Chatzy with a bunch of friends and embracing your own, weird self. It inspires you. It helps you write more, and write better.
So I guess that’s my number one tip for new teen writers with no idea what to do. It’s to get online. Join the community. Make friends. Other teen writers are your best outlet for improving your craft and building your writing and publishing knowledge, and I think that’s what makes the internet so amazing. It allows teen writer sites like TCWT and Go Teen Writers and all of the others to exist. It allows us, as young writers, to connect with each other and help one another in a way we were never able to before. I also think this is why you see more and more teens getting published nowadays. (I know of four who are debuting next year!) The internet, and the community behind it, is allowing teens, who would normally not know the first thing about writing a novel, to be as talented and as knowledgeable as any adult. NaNoWriMo and Figment and so many writing forums have been such a huge factor in getting writers, young and old, to meet one another and eventually, to achieve their publishing dreams, whatever that may be. This isn’t to say that if you join the writing community, you will magically become talented and everything you ever wished for will come true. That doesn’t happen. But getting involved in the community is the first big step to growing as a writer. You also have to be proactive. Read as many blog posts about writing and publishing as you can, both by industry pros and writers like you. Make friends. Beta read other writers’ manuscripts (seriously, nothing helps you improve your craft more than critically reading a friend’s book.) Build a support system. And most of all, have fun. Writing shouldn’t be work. It sometimes feels like work, yes, but you should be able to make it enjoyable, too. Other people can help you do that. I’ve never had more fun writing than when I’m word sprinting with friends and spending the in-between time talking and GIF warring and whatever. You need to find that place of enjoyment, whatever it may be, and community is the perfect way to do that.
Basically, if you’re new to writing and want to improve, my number one suggestion is to do one of three things:
1) Start a blog and interact with the teen writer blogging community.
2) Get on Twitter/Facebook (we have an awesome TCWT teen writer Facebook group!)/Tumblr/etc. and meet teen writers there.
3) Get on writing sites–Figment, NaNoWriMo, Protagonize, etc., share your work, and meet people!
These are great starter points for new writers, and they will help you break both into the publishing world and the writing community. You’ll meet amazing people, and I promise it won’t take long for you to feel improved as a writer. You also shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions when you have them, or volunteer to read someone’s manuscript, or ask people you know if they’d be willing to critique your first chapter. Take advantage of these resources. They’ll help you, I promise.
All of this boils down to: in this day and age, we have all of the tools we need to achieve of our writing dreams right in front of us on the internet. Don’t be afraid to use them.
So, out of curiosity, how has the writing community affected you?