Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, and the award-winning Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, www.GoTeenWriters.com. You can also find her online at www.StephanieMorrill.com
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How to Be a Real Teen Writer by Stephanie Morrill
I totally get that. I wanted that too! It was very hard for me as a teenager to admit to myself that I wasn't ready to be published. Not only were my stories far from ready, but I didn't yet have the strength to deal with heavy criticism, the pressure of deadlines, or the time commitment of being a modern day author.
But I also don't believe my teenage writer years were a waste. Rather, I think it's because I devoted so much time in middle and high school to writing that I had success in my twenties. Here are seven things I did as a teen writer that paid off:
- I wrote and wrote and wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more. I always had a story going. None of them are any good, but I learned from them all.
- I took whatever English classes I could at school - AP English, Shakespeare, Lit into Film, and Creative Writing.
- I talked about being a writer. My friends and teachers and youth coaches and basically anyone who would listen to me talk about it knew that I wanted to write. I think that caused me to put some pressure on myself to not give up.
- I read a lot of classics and saw a lot of Shakespeare plays. Mostly out of requirement, but they serve me well now!
- I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It was part of our AP English class, and it totally shaped me as a writer.
- I watched Gilmore Girls. Okay, that's kind of a joke...but Rory Gilmore was a really inspiring character to me. That's what gave me the idea to start keeping a book in my purse at all times.
- I went to a writers conference in high school. My parents are the ones who found it, and they pulled me out of school for the day. My dad went with me, and neither of us had a clue about what we were doing, but I absorbed a lot that day.
And here are three things I wish I had done:
- Read for pleasure more often. My school was pretty rigorous, especially my English class, so I know that's part of it. I also think I just didn't know how to choose books for myself. My senior year of high school, I started wandering around Barnes and Noble and buying random books. I "discovered" Jodi Picoult and Alice Hoffman that way, and I still love their books.
- Paid better attention to grammar lessons. Why did I not think it would be important for me? It's fortunate for me that I became critique partners/best friends with a grammar genius, and that I know how to use my Chicago Manual of Style. Otherwise...
- Taken the time to learn story structure. I didn't because I was of the mindset that stories were something you felt. That it was all about gut and instinct. And it certainly is, to a point. But, man, I could have saved myself so much time if I'd bothered to learn the basic three act structure!
I hope these lists are helpful to you and that you can learn from my mistakes!
And now for the giveaway!For once, Ellie Sweet has it all together. Her hair now curls instead of fuzzes, she’s tamed the former bad-boy, Chase Cervantes (she has, right?), and her debut novel will hit shelves in less than a year. Even her ex-friends are leaving her alone. Well, except for Palmer Davis, but it can’t be helped that he works at her grandmother’s nursing home. Life should feel perfect. And yet, it’s not that easy. Ellie’s editor loves her, but the rest of the publishing biz? Not so much. And they’re not shy about sharing their distrust over Ellie’s unlikely debut. Ellie has always been able to escape reality in the pages of her novel, but with the stress of major edits and rocky relationships, her words dry up. In fiction, everything always comes together, but in real life, it seems to Ellie that hard work isn’t always enough, the people you love can’t always be trusted…and the dream-come-true of publishing her book could be the biggest mistake she’s made yet.
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