Teens Can Write, Too!

Changing the world's opinion… as soon as we finish this math homework

Why Communities Are Important To Writers… and Why The Teen Writer Community Rocks

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?



About Michael Waters

I'm Michael, I'm eighteen, and I blog about YA books for Barnes & Noble.

21 comments on “Why Communities Are Important To Writers… and Why The Teen Writer Community Rocks

  1. cait
    June 5, 2013

    Communities for writers are SO important. This is coming from someone who only just started talking to writers online (um, this year). I slogged away for three years by myself. And they were so tough. Just talking to other writers who are as crazy and bonkers as you REALLY HELPS. I’m not alone in my insanity. Oh yeah! Oh yeah!

    • Amanda
      June 5, 2013

      YES. I love having writing friends to complain to about stubborn old characters and plot and all those things that normal people just wouldn’t get.

    • John Hansen
      June 7, 2013

      Yes! This is exactly it!

  2. Amanda
    June 5, 2013

    COMMUNITY. I agree immensely. I just wrote about that as part of the blog chain, actually! Without the writing community I’ve found on the internet…I would never be this good of a writer. I probably wouldn’t have even gotten to the point that I would call myself a writer! So basically…the writing community made me a writer and is making me a better writer. 🙂

    • John Hansen
      June 7, 2013

      I feel the exact same way. The writing community is really what makes all of anyone’s success possible.

  3. Katia
    June 5, 2013

    I totally agree. For me, NaNo and Camp have helped a lot. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know other writers through blogging. Having someone cheer on your efforts always helps.
    I was foolish enough to have someone from NaNo beta one of my first drafts…. it was bad.
    I had a very steep learning curve. 🙂 However, I have (thankfully) learned from my mistakes. Overall, the writing communities have strengthened my writing. As C. S. Lewis once said, “We read to know we are not alone.” And the same goes for writing. (Or at least, we hope we’re not alone. If we are, well, then at least we’ve got a novel or two on our hands.)

    • John Hansen
      June 7, 2013

      Ha! Yes, I totally agree, and I also think a big part of the community is teaching you about doing things like sending a mess of a first draft to a beta–I’ve done the same! The trial and error factor was a big part for me as well. 🙂

  4. Liam, Head Phil
    June 6, 2013

    Very good, and very true– the one caution I have is not to let yourself get sucked into procrastination via the internet. Community is great, but writing is better.

  5. Sarah Faulkner
    June 6, 2013

    I love this post! If it wasn’t for Go Teen Writers and TCWT, I would never have finished my first novel, much less me second! Community is awesome. I love how often all my teen writer online friends make me laugh, how they ‘get’ me on a level not many others do. Seriously, community is always important, but it’s even more important in solitary activities such as writing!


    • John Hansen
      June 7, 2013

      Yes! I probably wouldn’t still be writing, or at least not seriously, if it weren’t for awesome blogs. They really can make all the difference.

  6. Miss Alexandrina
    June 6, 2013

    Ooh, John, speaking of that, can we have another CP swap on TCWT? I’m trying to ‘collect’ some for summer. *slightly evil laugh* xD

    • John Hansen
      June 7, 2013

      I’m planning to do something like that! 😀

      • Miss Alexandrina
        June 8, 2013


  7. Meredith Waugh
    June 7, 2013

    Yes, community is great, but nothing beats putting your game-face on and actually writing. Either way, joining the wonderful world of online writers has changed my writing drastically. And also, the world is full of non-writing people that could improve our writing nonetheless. There’s no need to separate ourselves, as teen writers, from the rest of the world.

  8. Charley R
    June 7, 2013

    Awesome post, John, and oh so true! I’d never have started writing for proper unless I’d joined Blogger, Protagonize and NaNoWriMo!

  9. Very informative. I’ve actually never thought of using the Internet to be a better writer. Thank you very much!

  10. Emma
    January 16, 2014

    Thanks for the advice and please check out my blog!!!

  11. Pingback: Go Teen Writers “Word War”

  12. erinkenobi2893
    April 9, 2014

    I actually never knew there was a writing community online until my friend Iris (who goes by Irisbloom5 there) introduced me to Nanowrimo. Now, though, I just think it’s great! 🙂

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2013 by in Published Teens, Writing.
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