As a Happiness Engineer at WordPress.com I’ve decided to attempt to participate in a fun challenge that they’ve created for January 2022 to help bring in the New Year!
Which by the way – Happy New Year everyone!
This challenge is called Bloganuary (which you can join as well) and they’ll be dishing out a new writing prompt every day for the month. In light of my sporadic track record for posting new content, we’ll see how this pans out! I can’t even cheat and batch create, because they’re dripping out the prompts daily! Though fortunately for me, the prompts are publishing at midnight UTC time, so technically I can get a little bit ahead of the game for my own time zone XD
Today’s prompt is:
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Since I’m a writer, and my website/blog is about the writing side of my life, I’m going to see what I can do to connect each prompt to be relevant to writing (we shall see how this pans out as well).
Another fortunate thing for me, is that this first prompt isn’t too difficult – because really, who doesn’t have advice to give their teenage self? Heck, I could have used this advice ten years ago, never mind… well… a few more than that.
Over the last ten years I’ve learned that there is so much more to writing a book than simply putting words on paper (or screen). Which isn’t meant to sound like a scary thing. But acknowledging that small little fact would have been a game changer for me and my writing journey.
So my advice to my teenage self, with a mind towards one day wanting to write a book, would be this:
Enjoy the freedom of time while you have it, before the responsibilities of life take over. Embrace the support your family is able to provide, carve out the small pockets of time it takes to help with household chores, so that you’re able to spend the rest of your time reading, watching and learning about story. Reading everything you can get your hands on, in every genre of fiction and about the craft of writing. And watch hours of TV. (This is kinda starting to sound like every teen’s dream.)
But it’s not just about the mindless consumption of entertainment. Through reading and watching, learn about story structure, character arcs, tropes, conflict, theme – and then practice by analyzing the stories you consume. Figure out how they work, why they work (and why they don’t), what could be better or different, what you like and don’t like. There is nothing in this world that will set you up better for being able to create stories than to have an in depth understanding of them.
For anyone who may be reading this and thinking to consider my advice to my own teenage self, you may be thinking there’s no way my parents would let me spend my time doing that, they want me to get a job or develop a career. It’s a fair expectation and desire for parents to have. They want to see their kids succeed in life. But let me assure you, and them, if you have a desire to write, a desire to create stories – there are plenty of career opportunities to be considered. It’s not the same as our childhood dreams of becoming a famous person. Countless corners of our world need good writers and storytellers, and there are an enormous number of spinoff careers relating to writing and storytelling.
But even a degree in English or Literature or Film from a prestigious University or College won’t guarantee the ability to secure (or keep) jobs in those fields if you haven’t nurtured the knowledge and passion in the first place. There are also countless teens who don’t have the opportunity to pay for the high cost of a higher eduction. There are countless teens dealing with ADHD or Autism and other conditions for whom traditional education isn’t a solid path to success (it’s more of a money pit and emotional nightmare to be honest).
The good news is that it’s okay. Degrees and papers might help, but they’re not required. Everyone out there has the opportunity to pursue a career and respectable livelihood in the industry of writing – your greatest asset to get there is time. The greatest gift and support that parents can give their talented, creative teens is the time they need. And the smartest thing that teens can do is accept and embrace that gift of time when it’s given, it doesn’t last forever.
I don’t have a ton of followers on this site at the moment, but none-the-less, I turn it over to you (yes you, because you’re probably the only one reading this)… what writing related advice would you give to your teenage self?