Friday, September 03, 2010
 
Thanks everyone who responded to this topic stream. You gave us great feedback. Lynda asked me to sum up with a few notes.

It was great hearing that youth generally think that writing is cool and a worthy pursuit. Several great suggestions were made to help young and beginning writers get started and finish their projects toward publication. These included:
  • join or form a writers group. Remember to be mindful of the quality of feedback and the element of trust. Don't let your work be subverted by comments (whether intentionally or not) that may undermind the integrity of your art. There's nothing like the synergy and creativity sparked by a group of upbeat and creative people. Stay alert, be giving, and enjoy the ride.
  • similarly, go to local conventions and conferences, where you can meet older and published writers and other members of the industry who can give you a great introduction to the publishing world and where it's going.
  • attend local writer's events, readings and workshops. Published writers in your community are a great resource for mentoring and general advice.
  • writing fan-fic is a great way to help learn and hone skills in storyboarding, and other essential elements of storytelling and craft without having to build a whole new universe or set of characters. Watch this, though. You can get too comfortable here. At some point you need to step out and create your own story.
  • look for different and wild and crazy new ways to express your writing. The internet is a great and accessible place to brainstorm and find places to showcase your artistic expressions.
  • find and use reliable writing guides, workshops, etc. that will help you jumpstart your work, focus your writing and successfully market your stuff. Thanks, Paula, for including your information. Paula has been teaching cool courses for a while and I highly recommend her. I include my information below. I'm a writing coach and do work with individuals online as well as give webinars and workshops. Check below for contact information and what materials might be useful to you.
We also discussed other challenges faced by young and beginning writers. One was write creatively then edit vs. edit and craft as you go along. I made the following comment:

1. you can certainly write the first way, but believe me, it will take you ten years to publish; because it will take that long to edit! Writing the second way saves time and keeps you focused on STORY. Story is King.

2. The experts say--and I am in total agreement with them now--that it is dangerous to simply write creatively without some mindfulness to craft. And by craft I mean good storytelling that incorporates theme with plot and character: the so what of a story. If you don't have these clear in your head, your writing will meander into chaos and won't really go anywhere; it won't be a STORY. You NEED to know where you're going--at least have a general idea of what's at stake for all the characters. I talk about these in my writing guidebook The Fiction Writer and in my workshop "The Writer's Toolkit". Both are available through www.thepassionatewriter.com and Amazon.

Several people talked about youth's disadvantage of not having lived and experienced as much. Krysia wisely mentioned that this can be seen as an advantage. The "white page" per se, is far more open to what may come to it, perhaps more willing to try new things and experiment. And this is the great stuff of writing.

Anyone interested in my coaching services or workshops is welcome to check out my website, http://www.ninamunteanu.com/. You can purchase my guidebook The Fiction Writer: Get Published, Write Now! through Amazon or through http://www.thepassionatewriter.com/. A 3-disc DVD set will be available on that site too, which gives a comprehensive course on starting and finishing, craft, and marketing. And for FREE, you can get some cool advice on "Toolkit Talks", a Writer's Digest free webinar where journalist/editor Vernon Oikle  and I discuss the common issues faced by young and beginning writers. You can register for free for this on-demand webinar and watch it at your leisure. You can find the site through my website or go directly here.

Did I miss anything, Lynda?

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Comments:
You covered the gist. There was also some discussion about whether or not young adults feel particularly vulnerable due to peer pressue. Belatedly, I think I'll also add that many young people I encounter are .. mm a bit naive I guess .. about how likely work they love themselves is going to sell. Writing to publish is hard work in the promotion and business end of things including attention to craft, vs the sheer joy of writing to create. Striking the balance depends on knowing what you are doing it for - what your goal is. We can all be silly about wanting to have our cake and eat it too, and I don't know a published author who still doesn't want both! But I suspect young people who haven't yet experienced the challenges of sales and marketing probably are at a disadvantage with respect to grappling with the importance of craft. And the business end of things. I know because the youth in me still struggles with it all the time.
 
Great point, Lynda... Yes, it is a learning experience. The key is knowing WHY you're writing and WHO you're writing for. If it's just for you, cool. If it's for the world, that's something else altogether.
 
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