How to be a Teen Writer Without Making Me Want to Punch You in the Face

This isn’t a TCWT blog post; I just felt this picture would be relevant.

[Disclaimer: I don’t actually want to punch anyone in the face. At the most I’ll give them a disappointed look and maybe make fun of their shoes.]

I strongly support teenage writers. Most of them are pretty cool, and with some you could just tell they’re going to become famous authors one day. Hell, some of them already are.

Still, when it comes to writing and literature, teenagers are constantly looked down upon. There are some people who immediately stop listening to what you’re saying once they find out your age. This actually happened to me once with another blogger. We were getting along just fine, having a nice conversation about Neil Gaiman, and then she found out I was fifteen and never answered back.

While I’ve never actually heard an adult say, “Oh, you’re just a teen. You can’t write,” or anything as obnoxiously condescending as that, I do believe that there are people who think the majority of teenage writers are too inexperienced or too hormonal or too stupid (this list could go on and on) to write well.

So it bugs me when I run into teen writers who actively reinforce this stereotype. I don’t mind as much when adults do the things mentioned below, because they aren’t constantly judged based on their age, but when I see a teen blogger do these, I can almost hear the sound of a snobby, close-minded person saying to himself, “Well, what could you expect?”

I hate that guy. And all I want to do is to prove him wrong. So here’s three things I occasionally see teen writers doing, and although I won’t actually resort to face-punching, I still want it to stop.

1) Don’t use your age as an excuse.

This one point inspired me to write this entire post, and is the only that causes me to want to use my fists of doom. Too many times have I seen a teen criticized for his/her work and they respond with, “Hey, I’m only [insert age here]. What did you expect?”

No. This is not a good excuse. In fact, this is the worst excuse I’ve ever seen, and this is coming from someone who’s given some of the most bullshit cover-ups for why he hasn’t posted in weeks. Imagine if after accidentally killing nine out of his ten patients, a medical intern justified his alarmingly high patient mortality rate by saying, “Hey, I’m just an intern!”

Apart from being a god-awful excuse, this also pisses me off because you’re telling the world that your young age is the sole reason for your crappy writing. Not only are you insulting every other teen writer out there, but you’re just reinforcing the stereotype mentioned above, and that’s just not cool.

[Disclaimer #2: I’m not trying to insult anyone’s writing here. Even if it is horrible (like mine, for instance) you should always keep at it.]

2) Actually read.

One person said to me (and he wasn’t even kidding), “I love to write, but I hate reading,” and I was just like, “No, it doesn’t work like that.” Reading is to writing as a charger is to a phone; the phone’s cool and all, but won’t work without the charger.

And don’t just read the same genre or the same author over and over again, (although something is always better than nothing), you have to spread out a bit. Keep reading paranormal romances? Try a classic novel instead. Stuck in a rut with classic novels? Read a John Green book. Read too many John Green books? Screw what I just said, keep reading those John Green books, because that guy’s cool.

More importantly, you should read a lot. So much that it starts to become socially unacceptable, and you become known as “that weird creature who hisses at those who disrupt its reading.”

You don’t actually have to read that much, but you still have to read more than the average Joe if you expect to become a published author one day. Come on, even I knew that.

3) Please spell correctly.

When I enter another blog and the writing looks like someone just took a bunch of random letters and threw them on the screen, it irritates me. It’s okay to have occasional typos. I for one, have a lot of them I never seem to notice until it’s too late. But please, at the very least, just proofread what you’re posting before you publish.

There’s some other writing habits that people (definitely not just teens; so sorry for getting a bit off topic here) have that make me want punch them in the face. Or, if they’re bigger and stronger than me, which they usually are, I could just take the cowardly route and insult them for their lack of basic grammar skills from a distance.

  • Affect is a verb, effect is noun. There are exceptions of course, this is what you should remember it by.
  • Literally has become the most overused word ever. The problem isn’t so much that people misuse the word (as in, that literally blew my mind), but that people use the word when it adds absolutely nothing to the story. In school the other day, a peer of mine said, “It’s literally raining outside,” as if he was afraid we’d think he was talking figuratively.
  • The word awesome has been overused so much it’s lost all meaning, so only use it if necessary. For that you could blame Barney Stinson.

The funny thing is, these are not problems that are exclusive to teenagers. Adults misuse words, neglect reading, and use their age as an excuse not to do things, just as much as us. But unlike adults, teenagers are much more likely to be associated with these type of issues.

Fellow teens, we have a reputation to withhold.


243 thoughts on “How to be a Teen Writer Without Making Me Want to Punch You in the Face

  1. This is so good to read. My daughter is 7 and she LOVES to write. Of course there are still spelling & grammatical mistaken, but that will go when she gets a little older. Kids have much more imagination & fantasy then grown-ups. They are outside the box. Keep it up!

  2. Most people wouldn’t even believe my age if they looked at my blog. Well, its become more of a website now. I still won’t give it away because I still think I’m going to be looked down upon because of it. It’s a very great article you’ve written here though. It is absolutely true. I really enjoyed it.

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