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Advice for Young Writers

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Anonymous asked: “I’m a young writer. I’m 12. I want other people to enjoy my writing as well, but I have no idea how to get it out there. Most writing apps are filled with Zayn/reader-inserts.”

Now, I want to preface this with the statement, I don’t know what it’s like to be a young writer today. When I was 12, we were still using flip phones. We thought it was cool when our phones had Tetris – there weren’t apps. While there were internet communities of writers, I was constantly being reminded that nothing on the internet ever dies or goes away. I was kind of scared out of ever bothering to look for writing communities online until probably college. 

I’m going to tell you how I got my work out there – without the internet or apps or anything like that. And before you discredit my method just because it’s ‘old-school,’ hear me out. I wouldn’t be as confident and sure of myself today if I hadn’t had these experiences. 

When I was 12 and trying to get my writing out there, I showed my writing to teachers, to librarians, and to (occasionally) my parents. Maybe it sounds crazy, but they were all really supportive. Teachers especially gave me a lot of tips to improve. My English teacher from when I was 13 has actually since gone on to publish a few historical romances. My childhood is full of fantastic, artistic teachers that really helped my writing along. The ones that knew I wrote fiction would sometimes offer to read it, or once, create a small library of student fiction, so I could share my work with my classmates. 

I was always nervous showing new people my work. I’m actually a very ‘secretive’ writer as it is. And my logic is, if you can show hundreds of strangers on the internet what you wrote, you can show the people you know too. Once you publish something, they’ll ask to read it anyway, so why not get used to it? 

In high school, my writing got out into the world through my high school’s literary magazine. It didn’t go out to the ‘world’ exactly, but my peers. I helped run it. It was fantastic – I got to see my work in print. On paper. The teachers that helped put it together tried to get it out into the world too, by sending it off to contests and trying to get a much larger audience to notice our little magazine. My classmates were supportive. People I wasn’t friends with would come up to me and tell me that they liked my story. 

Since my experience might not be the most popular route to take – being internet-free and all – I also decided to reach out to my cousin, Natalie. She’s a writer too, but quite a bit younger than I am, so she’s more with-it when it comes to writing in the internet age. She actually just received an Editor’s Choice award on her submission to TeenInk.com. I’d say other than occasionally posting stories online, her experience was remarkably similar to mine. We’ve been writing stories together every summer since she was old enough to write in complete sentences. She said, “Really any website with readers will be good. You’re going to find fan fiction anywhere. It’s the internet, but that is only going to matter to people who are looking for fan fiction. For the reader on those sites looking for a good original story, yours is going to be the diamond in the rough.” 

I did recently write an article about posting your work online that might be helpful. Overall, while putting your work out there on the internet might be fun or “cool,” there are some drawbacks. I definitely recommend checking it out so you can be fully informed of all the risks. 

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