Interested in Writing?

Hints for Teens Who’ve Caught the Writing Bug

It’s important to learn academic writing in your ELA classes at school. But outside of school, writing doesn’t have to be about hesis statements and using examples to support your ideas. Writing can be used in a variety of ways and take on many faces according to your interests.

Also, your writing skills are like a muscle. The more you flex them, the stronger they become. So engaging in fun writing at home (and yes, writing can be fun) can result in better writing at school and better ELA grades. You may not care so much about a “C” today, but when your chance for college comes (your free pass to avoid the working world for four awesome years), you’ll be glad for those good grades.

Have you ever thought about…

  • Keeping a Journal or Diary – Writing about your day-to-day life can be a good way to de-stress. No one reads it but you and it provides a way to sound off about things that bug you or things that make you happy. Some people find that writing about their day-or about a problem-helps them find unexpected solutions or gives them new ideas. You don’t need a $12 journal from Borders. Use a composition notebook and it will be less likely your younger siblings will ever bother to open it.
  • Writing for the School Paper – And if you don’t have one, why not? Take some initiative and write an article about a problem or issue in your school. Ask teachers for their opinions and ask a wide variety of students for their input. You may discover a talent for journalism OR you might uncover a great way to take action and get results. Students in Vermont recently petitioned their local schools not to idle their school buses in an effort to protect the environment. Those kinds of changes and increased public awareness start with you.
  • Becoming a Published Author – There are a wealth of magazines geared toward your age group that would be happy to consider your stories, essays, movie reviews, etc. for their publication. Wouldn’t it be cool to say you’re a published author and have your read work by thousands of your peers? Check out Teen Ink for one example or see a longer list of other publications that want to see your submissions.
  • Developing a Friendship Journal – This is a book (or series of emails) traded back and forth in the form of letters, notes and pictures that chronicle a friendship and the people involved in that friendship. I keep a friendship journal with a friend 2,000 miles away and it’s a neat way to stay in touch. Plus, it makes a fun keepsake to remember shared experiences.
  • Creating a Poem – Admit it. You thought your haiku rocked the last time one of your teachers made you try your hand at poetry. Write one today — three lines with 5,7,5 syllables. No rhyme scheme necessary.
  • Writing a Story or Screenplay – Ever read a book where the ending didn’t turn out like you wanted or seen a show that disappointed you? Why not write something you’d like to read or watch? Write a story where you create the characters and decide what adventures they have. Or write yourself into a story and give yourself all the qualities and traits you’d like to have in real life. Writing your own story lets you slip into the shoes of a neurosurgeon, a NASCAR driver or a pop singer and you control how it all turns out. OR consider writing an episode of one of your favorite shows. Many shows on TV accept scripts from viewers and might be interested in seeing a storyline idea from a teenage fan. Christopher Paolini started writing stories while in high school and he turned them into the bestselling novel Eragon. Even if you don’t become a bestselling author or have your screenplay produced, you’ll still have the satisfaction that comes with writing a story and being in charge of a world you create.

Need some starting points or hints about writing? Ask your teacher to invite me back for a story workshop after school or consider some of these prompts to get you thinking:

  • Write a story around a random picture you see in a magazine. Consider what the people are saying to each other in the picture and what led them to this moment.
  • Rewrite a fairy tale with a different ending.
  • Take a line of dialogue overheard in the halls (i.e. I’ll never do THAT again) and use that scrap of conversation as the opening line (or final line) of a story.
  • Brainstorm 12 first lines for a story and be as creative, absurd, scary or funny as possible.

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