Teenage Writers?

Hey, WFG! I've been wondering this for a while, and I suppose now's as good a time as ever to ask: how many of you web serial authors out there are also teenage writers?

I always assumed that people writing on the Internet would lean towards the younger side (lower barriers to entry, digital natives, all that jazz) but from what I've actually seen it seems like the average age is older than I thought it would be. (For reference, I'm 17 years old: I guess "old" to me is a bit skewed.) For the other teenage writers out there, what's it like for you? Are you writing alone, or with friends? What do your parents think? Is it hard juggling schoolwork and writing? My youthful physique, so to speak, has been handling the sleepless nights pretty well, but it is getting pretty taxing.

And for the adults out there: did you start writing when you were a teenager? Did you ever do something like a web serial, and if so, how has the process changed as you got older? Did it get easier or harder? Just curious and trying to get a little perspective here. :)

//For reference, I'm 17 years old: I guess "old" to me is a bit skewed.//

Well, I'm an ancient 28. I've had reliable internet access since I was 16, so whilst your generation (and the successive generations) will have it more and more in their formative years, people who are older still may have had for a large chunk of their lives.

I started by writing fanfic - ran a series for a few years, then started the process of turning it into original fic.

I started serialising in...2007 (22 year old) and I've been doing it ever since.

It's gotten harder as I've had more constraints on my time (full time work and home duties, vs college and living with family), but at the same time, I've become more organised.

I am of an uncountably undetermined age, but it's possible that when I saw the movie "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," I may have been the same age as one of the titular characters, which would put me at either 26 or about 4.54 billion years, give or take 50 million years.

The closest I would have done to teen writing is some roleplay in chatrooms. Minds out of the gutters, y'all. I've only been going at a web serial for a little more than a year now, so my opinion of it getting easier may be a little too soon to call.

Wow I feel old. I am 34 and have been serializing web fiction since 2007, I think, but my first story NMAI was started in high school and took 7 years to complete. I posted it online for feedback from an audience because agents who looked at it for traditional publishing said it was impressively written but unlikely to get published as a first-time novel because it is non-linear, experimental and Christian - all of which spells "risk" to mainstream publishing. They recommended contacting them with something more traditional.

I discovered online fiction shortly thereafter and found it an untraditional frontier. I posted NMAI daily for a year to get honest feedback. I wasn't sure if the agents were just being polite. But actual readers who finish the book tend to rate it 5 star.

What I learned was online stories are structured differently than novels. They need to be interesting in each individual chapter in a way that moves the action forward and leaves hooks and cliffhangers to get you to the next chapter, but also be satisfying in the current chapter. It is a bit like a TV show with ongoing meta-arc and "monster of the week" episodes, so each piece fits a whole. NMAI was written slower, like a more traditional novel, so it meanders sometimes. So in my next work I was more direct, each chapter had something interesting, and more hooks to keep momentum.

The process got faster, more streamlined and easier. Instead of taking 7 years to write one book I pumped out the equivalent of about ten in 5, all in the same serial. I managed to maintain updates through having three kids, illness and the death of my dad. I didn't slow down until we had twins, my aunt died and I had to get a new job with worse hours - I have been on hiatus for a long time trying to get my life in order. Having a consistent schedule and writing routine helps - I just don't have that time anymore. I am hoping to recreate it soon, and then everything I learned will hopefully make it easy to get back in the saddle.

Wow, KCaiShi, I'm surprised; your writing style seemed more mature.

I'm closer to Stormy in age than KCaiShi.

I have to admit, I'm jealous. It took me a long, long time to figure out what I was doing wrong in my writing process and start actually writing for an audience & getting beyond the first few pages. I've been writing since I was thirteen, but there were so very many unproductive years, writing only for myself and making so little headway in learning the craft.

If you're starting young-ish, then you have an advantage. Use it. Keep going.

I have to admit, I'm jealous. It took me a long, long time to figure out what I was doing wrong in my writing process and start actually writing for an audience & getting beyond the first few pages. I've been writing since I was thirteen, but there were so very many unproductive years, writing only for myself and making so little headway in learning the craft.


*somber nod*

I guess this leaves me. I'm a teenager and I write stuff, so I guess I fit this description.

My friends all kinda hate writing, so I do it by myself, although they all read my stuff. My parents don't really know, and probably wouldn't care if they did. They may frown upon it, given that they thibk that if something doesn't help my GPA, then it is wrong, and I shouldn't be involved. Of course, they drove their first child into estrangement and drugs, so what do they know?

I generally always did my schoolwork in the class period before it was due, and that hasn't changed. However, that's because most of the stuff is irrelevant, and if I can maintain a 3.0 GPA while doing the minimum amount of work, then why should I do more?

Iike serializing my work because it gives me incentive to finish what I start. If you think that I already quit a lot of projects, you should have seen me before. I have ~25 GB of Word documents on my laptop, all unfinished stories. This has actually helped me in that department a lot.

Anyway, that's my info. Age: 17.

I've been writing stories since I can remember. I have boxes of it under the stairs from when I was a kid (which is roughly where they deserve to stay). When I was a teenager, I wrote with a few like-minded friends, experimented, but nothing serious and nothing we showed to anyone else.

I didn't start writing online until after uni, and that was mostly text-based RP stuff at first. I was pretty burned out for writing after doing a literature/creative writing degree, and it was a while before I got back to my own 'serious' writing. I started web serial (specifically, blogfic) writing in 2008, mostly as an experiment. I fell in love with the format and haven't looked back since. It definitely got easier once I got into the rhythm of it, and that gives me space to throw new things into the mix when I feel like it. I continue to play around with the format, like including transcripts of video logs in my ship's log entries because it's more fun and fitting than traditional dialogue.

I'm 35 now, approaching the end of my current web serial, and wondering which of the thousand projects on my list will be my next one. I'm not sure whether or not I'll do another blogfic; it depends on if I have a story that suits it, and if I can think of something else I want to try in that format. I've got a couple of stories calling that want to be written as third person novels, so maybe I'll do that next. And serialise them. Maybe.

I'm not a teenager and never even considered writing when I was. I only started writing just over a year ago and one of the sole reasons was I figured it would take longer than reading. I was fed up of finishing books/serials in a day and I always found picking new books strangely stressful...

Being 25 isn't old, but it's so far removed from 17...

I've always enjoyed writing, but I've never been motivated enough to write for other people (outside of the odd gift for a family member or girlfriend.)

I'm 18 years old. Sleepless nights aren't really new to me, although writing until two in the morning feels much more productive than playing World of Warcraft until two in the morning.

I'm physically writing by myself, but I do bother many of my friends so I can bounce ideas off them. Given that my current project is science fiction, I can involve more of my friends by talking about science, since they don't have to read the story to know what's going on.

As far as my parents go, it's funny. My mom is more or less indifferent to it (even when I based a chapter off of her um... "interesting" relationship with her mother).

I actually feel that a lot of the more successful web serials skew towards the older side. Given that I didn't write much fiction as a kid, I feel more behind on the learning curve, something I imagine wouldn't be (as) much of an issue with older writers.

You're all young.

Indifferent family seems to be a thing. It comes up on /r/writing (reddit) and other places where I see writers talking. You hear stories about people who have spouses that don't read their stuff. Isn't that mind-boggling?

I think it's just a fact of life when you're a writer. I liken it to being a parent, in some ways (disclaimer: I am not a parent) - you've got this one thing that takes hold of you, it demands your attention, fills your thoughts, you agonize over it, even when it's okay (picture the parent watching their child to make sure it's still breathing - the writer stressing over whether people will like this storyline), and it generally consumes you.

With all the emotion and time you pour into it, the hopes and all of yourself, you then show it to someone close to you and... they don't really care.

I mean, sure, some people will coo over it and compliment you on all the hard work you put into teh baby/your writing, but it's a rare person that seems to really recognize all the hard work and all the rest. Some of you will know what I mean. The 'congratulations!' followed by, a week later, 'Can you maybe skip doing a chapter to help me out today?' Or, more often, family or good friends, sort of shrugging it off and not having much to say when you're talking about the writing, then asking you what else you're doing these days. And then there's a moment of dissonance, a widening gulf between you and them. They can't fathom that this thing you were just talking about is what's been taking up 95% of your free time, and that you're struggling to find half an hour a day to claw out a few moments to yourself and recoup your self-identity.

The long and short of it is fairly simple - as amazing as your baby is to you, as much as you value it, it's just one baby among hundreds of millions to the next guy. Even if, often enough, that 'next guy' is someone important in your life.

They say being a writer is a lonely venture. This is part of it. Value the people close to you who do read your stuff. Accept it as reality when someone doesn't actually get around to looking at it.

Wildbow, I'm not sure it's fair to expect anything BUT dissonance from conversations like that. Writing, even just in general, is still a very specialized field of work, and not many people consider dedicating themselves to it. It's the equivalent of someone else going on about their job as an accountant or maybe a programmer. Unless the person they're talking to has some relatable knowledge or experience, there's basically nothing else to be said, apart from a few pleasantries. It's just one of those passions/jobs that doesn't make for good small talk with the uninitiated--not like, say, bartending or firefighting or something.

I think there's also an off-putting element to talking about one's writing. It can so easily come across as boastful. Certainly, the person you're talking to isn't going to know that when it comes to telling people about your work, you've been a thirsty horse in a desert for the past six freaking months.

This is sad - someone who loves you but doesn't really care about what's so important to you. It's true though, I've found in other aspects of my life. Like Wildbow says, it's a rare person who WILL take an interest something just because someone they love does, so cherish those people.

When I was writing my thesis I didn't even want to talk to anyone, because the small talk always started with "So how's your thesis going?" "Just hunky-dory!" was always so depressingly far from the truth I couldn't bring myself to say it, but I know they didn't really want to hear me whine about all the difficulties I was having that they wouldn't be able to relate to, or would offer unpractical solutions that I'd already thought of and discounted. Result: The people around me will never really understand what I went through, and how much of a miracle it was that I ever finished the darn thing!

I'm not surprised by the lack of teenage writers. Writing a web serial takes a certain level of dedication and commitment that many teen writers might not have yet. Compare it to say, fanfiction, that a lot of young writers gravitate towards. The setting and characters are already made for them, and it's easier to get readers for your fic than your original story.

I guess, I'm lucky in that respect. My wife doesn't really get it, but it's the same with most people's passions. Someone that loves rock climbing just boggles my mind. Beating a wall or a cliff makes me go "Huh? Whats the point?" But she does read my work and get invested. I got the silent treatment, which I loved by the way, for my treatment of a character. So there we go its all across the board. And wildbow, yes as a parent it is very similar, writing is a child of the mind, and they never grow up exactly how you want them to, but you love them anyway. But your kid is never going to be as special to someone else.

I agree that it's kind of gross to talk just about writing. I had a brief phase where I was like that, when Worm was taking off & I was excited. Going back to my analogy, it's like the parent that only ever talks about their kid. I'm sure we've all met the type.

For a long time, and I'm tying this back to the topic at hand - I was a teenage writer who had zero success. People would ask periodically about the writing, and I'd have nothing to say. I was writing, but it was going nowhere.

I wish I'd had this advice when I was a teenager:


But I stumbled onto the right thing (it feels far too late, but it was earlier than some) - working on a schedule, creating a huge volume of work. I was excited, I wanted to talk about it, and people that had been with me all through my prior struggles, people who'd been asking how my writing was doing, they didn't really change gears, you know? They ask just about as often now that I'm doing okay as they did when I wasn't. I'm not writing what I did above to say I want to go on at length, only to say that it feels like people don't care... and they don't, by and large.

But that doesn't change the fact that it is an accomplishment, thesis or writing or otherwise.

Just have to plug away. Novice or expert, you can't be a writer if you don't write. Just write away. If you have to stop, you take the time to read, so you have a thumb on the pulse of the genres you're interested in, a sense of what's out there, what people are doing right or wrong. But above all, you gotta write. If you've started a serial, you're on the right track.

This is interesting. I wonder though about the specific correlation between spouses etc. not 'getting' writing and parents not 'getting' writing. Speaking mostly on parents of teenagers, there seems to be a common aspect I've noticed in all creative communities where parents tend not to support their children writing or drawing or painting or what have you and I don't know if it's totally because they just don't understand. I think there could definitely be an aspect of fear that if they support creative aka 'frivolous' endeavors, that kid is going to try and pursue that as a career. And we all know art isn't exactly the safest career. I could almost understand a parent asking 'why are you writing/drawing and not studying?' because they're worried their teenager's going to fall behind in the big bad life game and not end up being a fabulously paid doctor. I don't think it's right. And it's based in a narrow-minded understanding of the world. But I can see where the logic might fall, even if it's severely lacking.

As for spouses, etc, I'm a little less certain. I do know that my boyfriend of 6 years supports me writing and drawing because he knows it brings me joy, but he refuses to ever read any of it. Maybe he's just lazy, but his go-to reason is that it means too much to me and he doesn't want to risk spoiling my enjoyment of it if his response isn't as positive as I would like. Is it a lame excuse? Maybe. But I can kind of see the logic in that too. If I was trying to become a professional, maybe it would be different and I would crave more feedback from those around me. But for fun? Why hurt my feelings about it?

Back to the teenager thing. I RPed all through high school and went through great pains to make sure nobody ever found out. I continued after college which eventually led to my serial and therefore my first admission that I'd been writing at all. Everyone I knew was so shocked, but also glad that there was a valid explanation for why I spent so many hours in my room alone :P

I will be honest, I hated English class in high school. Hated the very concept of writing and analyzing literature and punctuation and so on and so forth. I wrote absolutely nothing outside of the bare minimum requirement for a high school diploma. I started writing when I got really bored some time last October. I also read this ( http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/ ) at about the same time, and summarily said to myself "Fuck my self doubts. Can I do this? Yes or no? Let's do this, motherfucker!" I'm 19, in my sophomore year of college, so I'm in that weird, not a teenager, not a real adult state.

I'm not exaggerating when I said I wrote nothing. Literally nothing until October of last year. However I did read a lot for fun. I've only been writing for about five months, but already I've noticed that my updates are longer, there are far less strangely constructed sentences, and, at least I think, are all around better. I was immensely terrified when I first started putting my stuff up online, that it wold be terrible, or dumb, or full of plot holes, or any one of a million things, but people seem to like it so I can't really complain.

As for sharing it with people I know in real life, I'm in an exclusively engineering school. Liberal art majors are used as punchlines here. Anything I showed to anyone would be met with dead-eyed indifference. Additionally, I have no significant other, so I can't really say anything there. But, on the bright side, I've become accustomed to operating on four-ish hours of sleep, so I always take at least an hour out of my day to write.

I've now got about 100K words (or 2 Wildbow weeks, the unit of writing volume most commonly used in the scientific community) and am honestly astonished it kept my attention that long, that I didn't quit or stall out or something. I might be some strange anomaly, but that's my story. I hope it gives you some of the info you were looking for.