I read John Scalzi’s “10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing” about a week ago and now that it’s had time to simmer in my mind, I’m ready to talk about it.
First off, if you’re a teenage writer, I highly recommend reading this article (linked above). And if you’re not a teenager, but you are a writer, I still suggest you read the article. Don’t worry, you don’t have to read it to understand this blog post. This post is more about my reaction and my experience with writing.
I started writing novels (no matter how crappy they were, they are still novels) when I was about 14. I distinctly remember the moment I decided that I was going to write a novel because I had a standard one subject notebook and a pencil in hand. I took both, sat on my stairs, kicked my feet back and forth (there are spaces in between the steps that you can put your legs through), and started writing. I haven’t really stopped since then. I definitely started as a teenage writer. Now that I’m twenty, I’m definitely not a teen, but that’s not the way I feel.
When I initially read the article, I’m going to be honest, it stung a little. What is it that people always say? That the truth hurts. But the main point of the article is that when you first start off writing, it’s going to suck. Especially if you’re a teenager (but that doesn’t mean others aren’t susceptible to this). It’s just a fact of life. I mean I look back at the first novels I wrote out by hand and while they’re entertaining (because they’re so bad), there isn’t much there. No plot. No character development. Nothing. Nada.
But it’s okay. Reading this article helped me realize, that all other writers go through a phase like that. Scalzi mentions that it takes about a decade (a very long decade) or so to truly master something. It could be playing the piano, dancing, or opera-singing. It’s going to take time to get good at something. And going along with that logic, I should be a decent writer by 24—so I have about 3 years and 3 months left for this decade deadline.
The thing is that I don’t feel like my writing hasn’t gotten that much better to be honest. I only started getting serious about writing when I entered college. So it’s only been about 2 and half years. I haven’t found my “true writing voice”. I haven’t been rejected by anyone because my writing is safe and sound on my laptop. I don’t write everyday like all authors suggest doing. I haven’t read enough writing craft books. I still don’t know “how to revise” a novel. There are so many things that I have to work on. And some days are harder than others to take that at face value.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is new writers suck! Maybe not every new writer, but my writing was/is horrible in many respects. I’ll be the first to admit it. But I find solace in the fact that everyone goes through this phase. And on a spectrum from novice to master, I definitely fall in the middle with a little more weight towards novice. It gives me the motivation to work harder and suck a little less.
I’ll just leave you with this quote.
What do you think about Scalzi’s article? How do you stay motivated to keep writing even though it may “suck”?