Teenager Writers: Get It Straight, Guys!

October 2013

So as I was scouring the internet for intriguing tidbits to read, I came upon this post: How to be a Teen Writer Without Making Me Want to Punch You in the Face. At first I was a little turned off by the title, but as I read through the fifteen year old’s post, I found I was in complete and utter agreement. Teenaged writers face an adult-dominated system when it comes to their writing. Not only are we regarded in a skeptical manner, we are prejudiced by unfair stereotypes, and receive no warm welcome to the world of established adult writers that we challenge. In the face-off for recognition, teens just aren’t tall enough yet to outdistance the extent of our opposer’s reach. We need to overcome the belittlement adults have bestowed upon us as a worldwide, teenage revolution for justice.

Adult writers, readers, and fellow bloggers approach us with a biased premonition that all teens fall into the stereotypical category of lazy, messy, narrow-minded, self absorbed juvenile delinquents drove by the upkeep of their appearance to their peers. Which of course doesn’t exclude teen writers. Common belief is that we teens don’t have educated or valid viewpoints on the world because of our young age. Most established writers overlook the fact that- in this modern age where becoming a writer takes the click of a button- a writer is just a person who captures those who read their work through a common interest, insightful and inspiring views, and a way of putting things that just tickles peoples’ fancy. They put a voice to the readers’ emotions and empower them in a way only words can. Age has no relevance as to whether or not you can inspire others through words. If you aren’t convinced by my description of a writer, just know that “most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired by the age of fifteen.” (Willa Cather.) This basic set of skills we are talking about is something you most likely learned in grade school: how to pick a topic, the appropriate way to put together a respectable thesis statement, and how to tie your shoe. The fact is that everyone could be an Ernest Hemingway or George Orwell if good writing was achieved by following a common-sense set of rules, or that “basic material a writer works with”. But writing isn’t about following rules and making sure all your paragraphs are indented- it’s about an idea, a brilliant idea that inspires readers, assures them, condones their wrongdoings, and encourages people. It’s about touching the hands of poverty and inducting oneself into the weave of human emotion to grasp the public with such a hold that they couldn’t possibly see the world without your eyes. Through a writer, you can be awakened from your desert pillow of sleeplessness and view the world in a way you never have before. Writers themselves are the sole beings emancipated from normalcy and ignorance- it’s the reason they write to begin with. Writing is a necessity for those passionated entrepreneurs with an inbounding sense of cynicism, a business man with sharp tongue and streuating vocabulary, and even a hapless, lost-souled teenager trying to find their way in a world of mediocrity. According to your stereotypes, my adult friends, teenagers are the epitome of rule-breakers, and I hate to say it, but the stereotype has incriminated itself. As a group of people, separate from the majority of law-abiding, insurance-company working citizens, we therefore have the gut and stamina to empower the world through our eyes. Breaking the rules of a corrupt system and thinking out of the box has been the criteria artists, writers, actors, et cetera for ages have been using to relate to society and become successful in their art form. You adults would be surprised by the insight into modern life that a teen could provide if you would just put your blazing guns back in your holster and listen. As a teenager myself, I can identify with the 47.9% of the world’s population- which is made up of teens aged 13-19- and a majority of those teens have an oppurtunity to read in their adolescent years. Why shouldn’t they read something they can relate to?

In a world where our creative powers are often underestimated, aspiring teen writers of the past, present, and future: please know that our fight for justice hasn’t just begun! Teens have been putting their life down on paper for hundreds of years, and although we haven’t always been respected or heard, times are rapidly changing. Nowadays, we are able to boast to the world our talents through social media and technologic miscellany. Friends, we are the generation of technological advancement- think of iPhones, portable computers, microchips- so we are the best candidates for mastering the internet and all it has to offer. Through websites like this one, we can share our work and connect with amazing people all over the globe who enjoy are writing, are interested in our blog, or even want to mentor or sponsor us.We are the up-and-coming Robert Frosts, Edgar Allen Poes, Sylvia Plaths and we have something to offer as adolescents that an adult never could in their writing: the complicated simplicity of a story told by someone who is experiencing the teenage years as they write about them. Adults can reminisce of their high school times, but they could never get, just right, the hardy, overpowering emotions that WE feel now. We are the most passionate group of creative people I’ve ever come across, and that passion, that strife for individuality, is something that is at its climax now: ages 13-19. Think of Ann Frank. Is her fame the product of an incredible situation and inspiring story, or the effect of her superb, developed writing skills? Some of us convey innocence, others, the woes of tragedy, and still yet some of us can present the world with an insightful glimpse of the beauty of a young person’s fresh mind. We are as fresh as a blank canvas in terms of the years that we’ve lived, but concerning our depth of senses, we are as worn as a vinyl record you adults used to jive to. The funny fact of it is though that by adulthood, many people have become washed out, “eyes mica-silver and blank, riding to work in rows as if recently brainwashed.” (Sylvia Plath, Insomniac.) If I ran the world, I would look to the young, bright minds to lead our creative revolutions. They are the ones who look at modern art see and something impossibly different from what you may see, because a teenager and an adult are experiencing incredibly different things. Now, don’t get me wrong, those who studied for many years a certain subject and have lived a full life definitely bring a crucial element to the table. But teens bring a whole different point of view to old ideas that connect in different ways to their evolving culture. 

To escape our position as the laughingstock of the blogosphere, fellow teenagers, please consider:

-The difference between “your” and “you’re” (e.i., present your writing in an educated, respectable manner, void of grammar mistakes!)

If we really want to earn the awe of accomplished men and women four times our age, we need to get our shit together. This means eliminating that ornery vocabulary of yours and replacing profanity with appropriate synonyms. To get you started, teen writer, I have complied a short list of substitute words that convey the same meanings as those cuss words. Here we go:

-Shoot!

-Darn!

-Oh, applesauce!

-Jiminy Cricket!

-What in the name of Sir Isaac Newton…?

Now, you may see the hypocrisy in this ask why famous writers get to write with profanity and we don’t. The reason for that is because you aren’t famous yet. When you’re richandfamous, you can do whatever the hell you want just like Katie Holmes and her strange, five foot tall ex-husband.

-Don’t flaunt strong opinions on subjects you aren’t educated in!

One of the things that makes me want to punch someone in the face is when people voice inaccurate or ignorant views on topics they shouldn’t be knocking around. Once, a great aunt of mine loudly proclaimed that she didn’t like Frank Sinatra’s music because he abused his wife. I curtly responded that, while he may have abused alcohol which led to the mistreatment of his wife, it is inappropriate to defile Frank Sinatra’s music because of his home-life habits. His talent was spectacular and undoubtably one of the most widely recognized voices ever heard. I told my aunt you can’t deny Frank’s talents because he may or may not have been a jerk. Her ignorant opinion is just the sort of thing that would have tipped off any Frank Sinatra experts- not because she was right or wrong about the abuse, but because of her unfair comparisons, lack of strong information to back her claim, and her reasoning.My point is- don’t write about things that are beyond you, age-wise and intellectually, because you may unknowingly make people angry at your attempt to be older than you are, if you fail. Write about things that are new and fresh and take risks!- just don’t do it carelessly. Many people regarded all Germans as Nazis during World War II, just because some Germans were in favor of Hitler, when in fact, majority of Germany’s citizens where subject to the same harsh treatment the rest of the world was receiving. My point now is that people will glaze over teenage writers and make hasty, uneducated decisions about us- hence our stereotype- because they read the work of a teenager who wasn’t portraying our writing skills in good way. One mistaken adolescent could become the poster board for the presumed extent of our knowledge on writing. Don’t be that one person.

Lastly, I just want to tell you guys to have fun with writing. As a writer, I am driven by a force that thrusts me into everything I do: necessity. I write out of necessity, just like I breathe air, and without the creative outlets I utilize, I am quite positive my sanity would be slowing slipping away by now. It is the same for anyone who has a passion for anything in life, no matter what age one is. If the human race has anything, it has passion, and passion is the driving force of our world, right next to necessity. If writing really is a necessity for you like it is  for me, then the passion is already there with you. And if you are passionate about something, you will always have fun with it, and it will never leave you. My message arguing our abilities to write now at a young age isn’t a free pass to skip all that schooling though. Soon you’ll grow up, and in order to be assuredly successful, you need to get those credentials that will open career doors for you. So keep up the good work, fellow teens, and never stop writing!

To the adults reading this- members of the blogosphere near and far- have some faith in us teens. We may seem like know-it-alls sometimes, or proponents of chaos and mischief, but we’re as lost as you were once. Writing is our way of finding ourselves in this mixed-up world- in the same way it’s your escape from work, your creative outlet, your dream job that just won’t get off the floor. We’re all really just searching for one thing, and writing is our way of getting to it.

And lastly, to the boy who came up with the genius post setting teenage writers straight: thanks. You’re an inspiration, whoever you are.

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