Trust me – I know. I published my very first book when I was nineteen and had this horrendous crush on the lead guitarist I met in band camp. It was drafted while I was only eighteen, during my first year of college. And before that, I was always turning in rough drafts as final in middle school. That could’ve also been because I was well-liked by my teachers, but I will say they picked up on something I wouldn’t figure out for years: I was born to write.
The funny thing about being born to do something, is that it’s not limited to any particular timeline. It’s not like you get a little fortune cookie slip that says “hey, by the way, you suck at it for now but when you turn thirty-five, you’ll be the best writer the world has ever seen.” That’s so not how it works. Rather, writing – like any skill – is something you can learn anytime. If you’re like me with a natural ability for it, you can start as young as you want. In fact, when you start younger, you’ll master your voice sooner – giving you many more years to thrive than your older-writer counterparts. So why wouldn’t you want to give it a shot right out the gate?
Well-meaning adults told you wanting to write was pointless.
How the heck would they possibly know that? They’re probably not clairvoyant, and you’re probably not an idiot. In my opinion, any adult who discourages a kid from chasing their dream by making them feel small and illegitimate is absolute scum. That kind of thing obliterates your confidence. If that’s happened to you, I’m sending you only the biggest hugs ever. I know all too well how that feels. You cannot let that stop you – not only would it be a tragedy to waste your voice, but you’ll also regret never trying to make something of your passion. So tell them to suck it (metaphorically), and write your story anyway.
You lack confidence putting words on a page.
If you’re still a teenager (or even younger), odds are you’re dealing with irritating but temporary things like social politics, hormones, and finding yourself. And that’s a lot. But the cool thing about writing is it can help you process that stuff, and it doesn’t even have to be in book form. Draw a picture of what you’re feeling and caption it with a quick idea. Journal about your feelings and all the stuff that feels big now but will be small when you look back in five years. The point I’m trying to make is that writing does not have to take a narrative form to still “count”. You can write anything and call yourself a writer. Or if you have a story idea but aren’t sure how to approach it, why not try a very loose, casual outline? The best thing about creativity is that it’s different than the book reports you have to write for school. They’re all you and can be whatever you want them to be.
Your friends don’t share your constant need to write.
That’s okay – just do it anyway. My friends rarely read what I’ve written (and I’ve been published for years). Sometimes they do (which is super nice, but not necessarily expected). Bottom line – your passion for writing is what makes you special. Odds are, your peers won’t relate to you, but that’s more than okay. That just means that like me, you’re an old soul with far too much emotional mileage to connect with other people of a similar chronological age. You might feel alone, but I can assure you that you’re not – and there are some easy and fun ways to find writer friends. For help finding your tribe, read this recent article HERE.
Maybe you’re not sure how to start.
That’s fine, but still no excuse not to try! There are so many options out there. Like another columnist suggested, you can absolutely read the books you like and try to emulate the style and voice that resonates with you. If your issue is thinking up a plot line, even watching movies can help you envision scenes better. The biggest part of learning any creative skill is emulating others who have been doing it longer than you. I’ve even heard the same technique works for songwriting as well (although that’s a skill I definitely haven’t cracked yet). Case in point though: keep at it. Invest time in your writing and watch as that writing adds so much to your life. Maybe it’s as simple as a new perspective, or maybe a re-do of something you wish happened differently in your life. There really is no downside – and therefore, no excuses either.
You can do this. I believe in you. Now it’s time you start believing in yourself.