//Four Ways Young Writers Can Sharpen Their Abilities

Four Ways Young Writers Can Sharpen Their Abilities

Congratulations, young writers!

You’ve got a head start. You already know what you love and what you want to do with your life (for the most part). All it takes now is the effort to sharpen your writing abilities and the discipline to keep writing until you reach the ultimate goal; becoming a published author.

Step #1: Read

Sounds pretty simple, right? If you’re a writer, this is something you already love to do. Why else would you be writing? But the good old days of sitting back and enjoying the ride are over. Now, you’re the mechanic.

It’s your job to lift the hood of the bookmobile and study its construction, its strengths, its flaws, and ways you can fix it.
What made you want to turn the page? What parts made your heart leap inside your chest? What parts made your eyes droop? Was the ending so good that it made you want to read more of the author’s work? Or did it leave you feeling empty or angry? The list of questions goes on and on.

No longer are fairytales, mysteries, or epic adventures just works of fiction. They are textbooks to be studied and picked over. Their lessons are stored in your brain like kindling, and when an idea is sparked, you can use your knowledge to create a powerful novel, one that you might select from a bookshelf first.

This doesn’t mean that books can’t be enjoyed at the same time. In fact, while reading a good book, I get more satisfaction knowing all the effort the author went through to get those beautiful words on the page.

The breathtaking descriptions and detailed characters and riveting plotlines. Those things are tough to get down, and it takes edit upon edit to make everything flawless.

Step #2: Write

While reading your “textbooks” is essential to becoming a bestselling author, writing itself requires repetition to get the hang of it. Make a point to write every day, even if it’s just a short journal entry.

Many writers have said that before me, but I can attest to its effectiveness. If I hadn’t been writing regularly before I started Spark, I probably wouldn’t be published for many, many years.

Since I started writing with a goal in mind at the age of eleven, I was able to pick up the pen at fifteen and start writing what would become my first published work.

When you do start a novel, whether or not you plan to publish it, outlines are extremely important. If you know anything about Nanowrimo, you’ve probably heard about this group of people called “pantsers” who write without planning. (If you don’t know about Nanowrimo, where have you been? Go check it out!) I’m not saying that it’s completely impossible to write a bestseller while pantsing, but it would be very difficult.

To most, outlines are essential to get the feel of the characters and the story before they even start the first chapter. J.K. Rowling is the most obvious example of what planning can do.

She plotted out most aspects of the Harry Potter world even before starting the first book. Now she’s one of the most revered authors of all time and a billionaire on top of that. Or she would be if she just didn’t donate so much.

**Exasperated sigh** (Kidding, of course. I admire her generosity.)

To be fair, you can write by the seat of your pants to get out of a ditch, but it’s very easy to dig yourself deeper, especially the farther you go without editing. I’ve had to delete whole chapters to keep from rabbit-trailing my novel down into a sad, literary crypt. So while pantsing is a weapon in your arsenal, it’s also like playing Russian roulette.

Step #3: Observe.

Another way to become a better writer is simply by observing. Set aside a moment or several moments of your day to study the things around you. Try to describe everything you feel in that moment, using all of your senses. (This could also be part of your daily writing routine.)

When you watch a movie, picture the words an author might use to describe a certain scene. Watch the little actions of the characters to better understand what yours might do in between dialogue.

Do they shuffle their feet? Rake their hands through their hair? Trace their finger along a foggy window? All of these things will make your characters seem more realistic to the reader.

Step #4: Experience

Just because you’re a writer doesn’t give you the excuse to shut yourself inside your room all day with only your laptop, paper, and pencils. You need to enjoy the world while you’re still young!

Get outside and take a walk. When opportunities present themselves at school or with friends or family, take them! Give yourself time to have fun, because fun contributes to creativity, and being social can make your characters’ interactions more realistic.

This is a step that I honestly struggle with. My personality and love of writing threaten to confine me to the life of a hermit, if you can even call it life when you don’t interact with other people or the world around you.

We need to make the most of what we have, while we have our time on earth. Just put aside at least an hour or so a day to dedicate to your writing goals.
So making a point to read, write, observe, and experience every day can improve your writing skill.

You might already do these things all the time, and that’s a good thing! But keeping your goals in mind is a good thing too, in case you ever start to stray from the path that leads to authorship

Even when you finally reach your goal, and publish that first book, it’s important to keep this up. It may be harder, especially when you’ve got yourself a deadline, but we can never let ourselves stop growing.

There’s a popular saying you probably already know. Practice makes perfect. We writers can never be absolutely perfect, but we can certainly try, can’t we?

2018-02-13T12:34:25+00:00

About the Author:

J.B. North is a young author who writes Christian YA Fantasy. She started writing her first book, Spark (Legends of the Shifters), when she was just fifteen years old and published it when she was seventeen, on April 30, 2014.North was raised in Abilene, TX, but now lives on a farm in beautiful Southern Virginia. She plans on writing many more books in the future, not only in her current series, but also in other series, short stories, and stand-alones to come.

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