This is my second time participating in the Teens Can Write Too, or TWCT Blog Chain. Click on the picture above to visit the Teens Can Write Too blog. The July 2014 prompt is “What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started writing?” However, since I have learned so much since I first started writing, I’m going to mention three things that I wish I knew when I started writing.
1. Outline, Outline, Outline
Before I started putting thought into really planning out and plotting my stories, I had a hard time finishing anything that I began to write-especially when they were novels instead of short stories. To tell the truth, I was scared of outlining. I thought that it would be boring to sit there and plot out all of the events in my story, as well as fill out character charts and all of those other boring worksheets that we often have to complete in school. However, when I started reading the Go Teen Writers blog, I learned all of these different techniques for outlining stories. So, I decided to give outlining a try and see if it would end up benefitting my story.
This time, however, instead of outlining my story the boring way with dull worksheets, I took the outlining process into my own hands. Without the restrictions of school requirements, I was able to outline however I wanted. I printed out worksheets, yes, but if there were parts on the worksheet that I didn’t want to do or I felt were unnecessary to my outlining process, I just skipped those. I made a mess in my notebook, outlining the line of events over and over again whenever one event sparked new ideas and a whole different direction to my story. I found that by outlining in my own way, I could have fun planning my story. Also, when it came time to actually write my story, I could sit down with a direction and write my story more easily and quickly. Better yet, I actually began to make progress on my story.
2. Never Throw Out Old Writing
When I was a bit younger, I used to love filling up countless notebooks with stories, poems, essays (Yes, I wrote essays, and they were about fish and Native Americans. I was six when I wrote those two.) journal entries, doodles and anything else I could think of. A couple of years or months later, I would look back at the content in my notebook and see how much I had improved. I was frustrated at how bad my writing was back then compared to the present, and so sometimes I would rip out the pages of my embarrassing writing and throw them away.
There were many things wrong with that. First of all, thin notebooks look pitiful and sad, and I don’t want sad notebooks moping about on my shelves, do I? Second, the things that I wrote when I was younger should be embraced. When I wrote those stories, poems, essays and other writings, I was proud of my creations. Now, when I look back on the writing that I did so long ago and compare it to my writing now, I should be proud of how much I improved instead of frustrated at how bad my earlier work was. Luckily, I didn’t throw out much, and I now refrain from throwing out old work. I enjoy looking back on my old writing and making fun of it (Wait, no. I didn’t just say that.)…and seeing how much I improved, of course.
3. Don’t Worry About What Others Will Think of Your Writing
I know that that sounds really cheesy and that you probably hear that all the time, but I can’t stress enough how true that statement really is. I have read so many writing advice columns, blogs, magazines, craft books, etc., and by reading so much on the topic of writing, all of this writing knowledge has naturally collected in my brain. Some of it is old and useless. Some of it is very useful. One piece of advice that I’ve seen resurface over and over again, and is also very useful is not to censor yourself or let others censor you.
I still censor myself in my writing. Often times, I’m afraid to pour out all of my emotion onto the page, or if I do pour out all of my emotion, I’m afraid to show it to others. I’m afraid that people will laugh at it. Maybe they’ll say I’m being cheesy. Maybe they’ll say I’m being too angsty. Maybe they’ll say I’m being too melodramatic. However, it is those writers that are truthful and that don’t hold anything back that are successful. These stories hit a chord with readers because they can relate to the deep truth found in such writing. These works of writing become the bestsellers, the award winners and the classics. People don’t laugh at these stories. Instead, they respect them because they know what pains the author had to go through to share so much of themselves with the world. I know that this is true, but I’m still working to apply this truth to my own writing. In a way, it’s my greatest struggle with writing, but bit by bit, I know I can overcome it.
…And if you would like to see some other opinions on this topic, check out the blogs below.
24th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – The topic for August’s blog chain will be announced.
What do you wish you knew when you started writing? Also, does anyone share that same last fear with me?