Don’t Let Your Age Be a Reason to Not Write

Today’s guest post is by teen writer Enette Venter. 

If you are a teenager and you are writing, then chances are someone is going to tell you stop. Might be a parent who wants you to follow a better career plan or a friend who thinks you’re just not cut out for it.

Everyone will try to have a say about you and your life the minute you decide to write a book.

“Writing doesn’t really pay,” they’ll tell you.

“Perhaps writing can be your hobby when you’re older.”

“Just don’t let your writing distract you from your schoolwork.”

If anyone ever comes to you with one of these phrases, then feel free to make them a character in your book and off them (the character not the person)

Writing doesn’t have an age limit. All you need to be “a writer” is the ability to write.

So your first mission as a teen writer who is being attacked by these or similar phrases is to get writing. As long as you’re writing, your writing career is on the right track.

In the mean time, let me help you by sharing with you how to keep writing when people are sticking their noses in your business and keeping you from reaching your goals.

First of all . . .

Don’t Write for Anyone Other Than Yourself

A mistake I see a lot of new writers, especially teen writers, make is to write something and then immediately show it to someone.

Normally I’m not against showing someone your writing, but the problem comes in when you start writing simply for the validation that you get from others.

When you write a novel, you’re dedicating a massive part of your time to writing this story, and you’re putting a lot of your emotional strength into it. You can’t do that if your only motive is to get someone else to like the story. Your motive behind writing your book should be the fact that you are a storyteller and you love writing.

Not to mention, if you are writing to get validation, it might help you get through the first part or so, but what if that validation stops coming and the person you’re showing it to doesn’t like your story how you’re writing it?

Then you will either have to change your original story, or you’ll lose your reason for writing.

A writing career will not survive if you don’t write for you.

Always Be Open to Learn

No one who just started writing is very good.

As a writer, you will have moments when someone points out to you that you can get better. Someone will tell you that your writing isn’t awesome and your current story is no good.

I’ve seen grown writers throw a hissy fit at this sort of remark, and I’ve seen a teen writer completely quit because she stopped believing that she has what it takes.

Don’t quit because you’re not the best.

If we all just quit because we weren’t the best writer to ever exist, then there would be only one writer on this earth. We can’t do that to ourselves.

Instead, you can rise above the negative commentary and pursue learning more about writing. If you open yourself to opportunities to learn about writing, your writing will get better. There will still be hate comments (there always are), but your readers, who matter, will also get a better experience.

Go to creative writing classes, read posts like these, create a list of your favorite writing podcasts.

You’re allowed to be bad so long as you are still learning.

Plus, if you are so busy learning about writing, then you’ll be too busy to quit.

Make Writer Friends

Not only are writers the most supportive group of people you’ll ever meet, they will also have a ton in common with you.

You dedicate half your time to writing? Guess what? So do they!

You dedicate the other half to reading? Guess what? So do they!

See tons in common.

Seriously though, when you talk to people about something you like, you will start liking it even more. It’s hard to quit writing when it’s the thing that ties you to a bunch of people.

No I’m not going back on my first point—you should write whether it makes you friends or not—but sometimes it can help to have friends who know what the term “plot points” means.

Writers will support you and give you great conversation. Seriously—go make some friends.

Let Your Success Speak for You

When people tell you not to be a writer, because of some stupid reason, then you might want to argue—because it feels like if you don’t argue, you are letting them win.

Rest assured, you don’t have to go arguing with everyone, because there is a better way to win the fight and that is to write.

If someone tells you that you can’t be a writer, then take it as a challenge to go write.

It’s so easy to let those words get to us. To be affected by what other people have to say, but their words are not the beginning and the ending of your life. You get to create a life you want. You are allowed to write even if it’s not the smartest thing to do.

This is everything I can share with you to help you survive the label “teen writer,” but I seriously hope some of it can help you.

Remember, you’re young, but as long as you write, you’re a writer.

Enette Venter is a young writer living in South Africa who has written four novels; each one laced with meaning and adventure. Her blog shares behind the scenes for these stories. Currently Enette is busy editing her latest novel called Falling for Pink and preparing it to be sent out to agents. Connect with Enette on Twitter.

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  1. I agree a 100%.

    Age should never be a factor, and for God sakes, don’t listen to the naysayers. If you wake up in the morning and you want to write, you’ve got to do it. Even if you never sell story or book one, it’s what you are, and to hold back your creativity is a little like trying to restrain a horse. It was meant to run, and if can’t, all it becomes is unhappy.

    Also, being old shouldn’t be an excuse. I’m into my 60s and I finally think I’ve got something worth saying. It only took me 50 years figure that out.

    1. Exactly! I personally think that even if I had zero chances of getting published I would still write because it’s had such a positive impact on my life, and I don’t think it’s something anyone should just give up.

  2. I totally agree – down the other end of the scale at 65 I have a major writing project on the go at the moment. I stopped writing in my teens when I went to uni, picked it up briefly in my 30’s then took up the pen, so to speak, ten years ago and haven’t stopped since. I started with poetry, joined a writing site, slid over into fiction and I’m still at it!

  3. Awesome post. I am at the other end of the age spectrum and your advice applies to that age group, too.

    Write for you, write because you love to write, and don’t let age stop you–whether you’re 16 or 86.

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you liked it 🙂
      My motto is to write the story I want and then when I’m done, I’ll start worrying about whether or not people will like it.

  4. Thank you very much for the post!
    Now that I am on the age to choose a career, and my steps are leading me to Robotics (which are very different from my writer’s heart) sometimes I really have doubts about pursuing this writing career, especially in a country that doesn’t have a big reader’s population.
    But thank you Enette Venter for your encouring words! And thanky you C.S.Lakin for the guest post!

  5. How absolutely refreshing to hear such mature views from a teen writer. You sound as if no-one could dissuade you from writing, and you are going to need that tenacity for many years. As I write on my website (on my About Me page) i wanted to write books from the time I could read! My father had the foresight to point me in a direction -journalism- where I was able to write to support myself while writing fiction in my spare time.
    Eventually, there came a time when I was able to devote myself fulltime to writing novels. By that time, I had more writing skills, and life experience so writing a novel was not difficult for me. I had both my novels published traditionally, and am now working on my third.
    Writing whether it was as a journalist, attorney, TV producer or author of short stories gave me a super fulfilling lifestyle for the last five decades. It’s the best skill anyone can have. Good Luck, Enette

  6. Those are exactly the things my parents and friends told me. They were all “Don’t do it! Don’t write! It’s a dead-end job!” And the result is that I used to be so scared even just to write for pleasure. But this post has represented the courage that I lacked. Upon reading it, I’ve decided to go for what I’ve always loved the most, writing.

    And now, at the age of 22, I’m the owner of 2 writing blogs and all thanks to this post.

    So, even though I’m not really a target of this post as I’m no longer a teenager, I want to thank you, Enette! Thanks for changing my minds.

  7. All you need is the desire to write, a want so strong that you’ll find a way to learn the skills to do it — and what you can’t learn you give to an editor to accomplish for you.

    At every age in life, there are people who will tell you that writing isn’t a viable career. Writing is never a career, it’s a calling. What you put onto the page may never make money, but the richness you receive from doing it is a reward greater than anything you can imagine.

    Every day is a new adventure that finds its way from my mind to the computer screen. I’m past the age of social security and life has never been better. I owe it all to writing….

    …and possibly cats, dogs, and yoga.

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