Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Surviving High School as a Writer

I was a teenage writer. I technically still am (At age nineteen, I have one more year left in teenagedom), but I’m in college now, having survived the dark, desolate whirlpool that is high school. High school is a busy time for everyone. Teenagers are expected to juggle the responsibilities of school, extracurricular activities and sleep, all while dealing with hormones and the struggle of finding their identity. Exactly how is a young writer supposed to squeeze writing time into all of this?

It can be done. As someone who has been through the trenches of high school and come out alive, I can tell you that it is possible. It is possible to write, maintain your grades and have a social life. I wrote HOUR OF MISCHIEF, the MS that landed me my agent, my senior year of high school  during dress rehearsals of the fall musical, without dropping my grades. This fact still baffles me. 

But I managed it. So how can a young writer dealing with the responsibilities of high school find time to write? Here are a few tips.

1.      Time Management- This is kind of a given but when you have a lot of things on your plate, scheduling is key. I knew when the work load got heavier. I knew when I wouldn’t have as much work. I squeezed in writing time around my work, taking advantage of the lighter days. But if you don’t schedule and manage your work load, writing time will be much harder to pick out. Get work done to make room for what you love to do.

2.      Writing Sprints- Get good at writing sprints. As mentioned before, you don’t have a lot of time. When you find time: make the most of it. Write as fast as you can. It might be crap but you are one step closer to a finished manuscript and that’s what counts. Writing sprints help you get as many words possible out of your writing time.

3.      Be Intentional- Your writing time is your writing time. Don’t allow this time to get pushed back by other responsibilities any more than you would allow your homework to get pushed back (though lets be honest, most of you are probably horrible procrastinators. Don’t procrastinate your writing is what I’m saying.) One of my writing times was in the morning. I woke up at 5:30 AM to get an extra hour of writing in before I had to go to school. For some of you, maybe an evening time just before you go to bed, works better. Or maybe an hour after school. Whenever that time is, make sure you spend it well.

4.      Accountability- Have friends and family who understand you as a writer. They are the ones who will keep you going when you hit a rough patch. They will encourage you to write and push you forward. They will give you funny looks when they see you playing video games during your writing time and passive aggressively bug you about it. Writing is a solitary profession, and yet you need to have a support system. The online writing community is great for this as well. When you’re having a busy day, there are always writers on twitter willing to encourage you.

These are four steps that helped me survive high school as a writer. It can be done. So good luck to all the young writers out there. And get typing. Every word you type puts you closer to your dream.

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