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Dear 13-year-old me

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Tue Jan 19, 2016 11:36 pm
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Sins says...

It recently occurred to me that I've been a member of YWS for nearly 7 years now, and it's made me realise how far I've come since 13-year-old me found this place in the deepest realms of the world wide web. I didn't realise how much I'd learned over these 7 years until I thought about it, and when I look back at 13-year-old me it's hard not to laugh. I was something, all right. Let me indulge you with an example:

Spoiler! :
That night was when the nightmares began. I dreamt that I was in Andrea's house but it was empty. I searched through every corner, of every room, of every hallway, of every floor. Nothing. There was nothing to be seen and the only thing to be heard was the deafening sound of silence. The more I searched the more numb I began to feel. I could hardly walk, hardly breathe. It was darker than darkness itself and every corner I turned looked exactly the same. I began to panic, I didn't know where I was. I didn't know if I was on the top floor or if I was on the bottom floor. Everywhere looked the same. It was like a giant maze that had no ending, like a tunnel with no light at the end. I didn't know what I was searching for and whatever I was searching for it was pointless. The breathing got harder, the numbness got stronger. I began to run, but the more I ran the bigger the house got. That's where the strange part happened. I would run past a door and turn back around because inside that door there was life. There was a pale blue sofa on one side of the room and opposite the sofa there stood a desk with a computer placed on top. I slowly began to walk into the room. There was a grand vase with a bouqet of unimaginable flowers placed beside the sofa. The flowers were pink, orange, blue, red and any other colour anyone could possibly think of. There was a pale blue bed at one end of the room, matching the sofa. But none of these things were what caught my attention. The chair at the very end of the room by the bed was the item that caught my attention because sat on that chair there was the girl. I kept walking forward until I reached the chair. The girl was sad. She held her head down looking at the floor. I tried talking to her but I got no response. She just sat there. Sat there and cried. I wanted to put my arm around her, comfort her but no matter how hard I tried there was always something stopping me from doing so. This feeling. This force. The girl suddenly looked up. I knew who she was. It was Sapphire, I was sure of that. And that's when I would wake up. I would wake up gasping for air. Sometimes I woke up and I could swear that someone was watching me. Watching me in the darkness. I could feel the cold sweat running down my forehead. It didn't make sense. None of it made sense. I didn't understand what the dream meant, the only thing I was posotive about was that the young girl was Sapphire. I tried to remember the dream. Sapphire looked about thirteen. She was afraid, lonely, confused and there was nothing I could do to help her. The numb feeling began to fade and the fear began to dissapear. These feelings were replaced by wonder and confusion. Nothing made sense. Why would I dream something like that? What did it mean? These questions were like my dream, they got me searching, searching for the awnser to nothing.

That was one paragraph. It's over 500 words long. Apparently, 13-year-old me thought 500 words was a totally appropriate length for one paragraph (it's not). That's far from the worst of it, too. My old laptop with all my original writing is at home, so I had to search the YWS archives to find the example above.

This post is primarily aimed at all you younguns here at YWS (though it can apply to anyone, really) because sometimes it feels like there's no point trying anymore, that your writing will never be any good, that all you every receive is criticism. Plus sometimes us oldies can forget that you guys are younger, and as a result can be a little harsh in our reviews.

And so I have taken it upon myself to become a source of super awesome happiness and motivation. Here are some things I wish someone had told me at 13-years-old:

In reality, your writing probably isn’t that great right now

No matter how awesome of a person you are, chances are your writing at 13 years of age isn’t that of Shakespearian quality. I don’t say that to be mean, it just isn’t. This is something you don’t tend to realise until you’re older, so for those of you who are the youngest, you’ve got that to look forward to. When I was 13 I totally thought I was going to become a literary sensation overnight, far more so compared to now where I have lost faith in every aspect of my life (just kidding, I still have faith in my cat). While that may be the case, your writing isn't bad. I wrote a 60,000 word novel at 13, and while the content was shockingly awful and my grammar was horrendous, it's something I'm still proud of. Without such literary atrocities, I wouldn't be where I am today. Just don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re not writing Harry Potter quality novels quite yet, and that’s okay.

Write while you have the freedom to do so

When I was younger I could write whenever I wanted. Nowadays, it’s not quite that easy. Once you hit, say, 16 it becomes a lot more difficult to fit writing around school. By the time you’re 18 it feels rewarding just to open a Word document. I would write for hours on end when I was younger, and it was between the ages of 13 and 16 when I grew the most as a writer. Primarily thanks to YWS, I have to say, my grasp of grammar shot up, my creativity was ignited, my determination was excelled, and I begin creating real people and real situations as opposed to caricatures and ‘things happening’. So my advice is this: while you have all the time in the world, write like your life depends on it. Post your writing here, have it ripped to shreds, edit your writing, post it again, let it get ripped to shreds, and then edit it some more.

Listen to other people's advice

It can be quite easy, when you receive criticism, to become super defensive and defend your writing to the death. It's them who has the problem, right? They're too picky, they don't understand your characters, they don't like the genre. They're probably right, though, and deep down you know that. Take it on the chin. In the end no one you show your writing to, whether it be YWS or your mum, is going to criticise your work for a bit of banter. They genuinely want to help, and they want you to be the best you can be. Some people can be harsh, yes, but you take that in your stride and prove them wrong. Show them that you can write real damn good. I mean, hey, if I'd ignored all of the advice I'd received as a youngun I would still be writing 500 word paragraphs.

Don’t be afraid

This is probably the most important one. When I first joined YWS I was this timid little creature who feared everyone and everything, and now look at me! I’m just about the most annoying ball of loudness to have ever graced the site. Don’t be afraid of the moderators on this site either; they’re no more holy than you. I mean, heck, I was one at one point. That’s a scary thought, right? I know that when I first joined I would tip-toe around the mods and viewed them as these untouchable creatures to be marvelled at. Know this: they walk into a room and immediately forget why they walked into that room, just like you.

Regardless of age, you will never have any idea what the hell you are doing

I remember it as clear as day: it was 3am and I was tearing my hair out over a chapter of my novel because I didn't know where to take it, and I wanted to fast-forward to when I was an adult and had my life well enough in order to actually plan a novel efficiently.


Oh, bless me. The truth is that no matter how old you are, you will never feel like you know what you are doing. This applies to life in general, not just writing, and you know what? That is such an marvellous thing. Some of the best ideas I've conjured up have been in states of utter confusion and uncertainty. Besides, predicability is boring :wink:

So to conclude...

My writing is so far from perfect. So, so, so far. It never will be, but compared to what it was like 7 years ago it's practically War and Peace. Since that initial 60,00 word catastrophe, I've completed 3 novels and have about 50 unfinished ones. I sent an extract of one I completed at 15-years-old to a few literary agents, one of which requested the whole thing. It never went any further than that, but it was an enormous motivator.

So many times I've wanted to just pack it in and move on because writing can be stressful. It can feel like you're constantly hitting a brick wall, and I've gone over a year without writing a single thing. And that sucks. Just know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, whether you're 13, 30, or 300. Persevere, accept your faults, show your writing to others, and make the most of YWS and what it has to offer. You are brilliant, and you can do it, whatever it may be.
I didn't know what to put here so I put this.

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Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:03 am
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EternalRain says...

This is very nice!

I want to improve as much as I can while I still have the time to do so. Thank you~
((I love the 'life lesson' at the end by the way. Very powerful words))
“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like.”

-- Lemony Snicket

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Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:43 am
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Pretzelstick says...

Thank you. This has motivated me a lot, since I have had the writers block for the past couple of months, and while still being an active member on YWS, I haven't posted any writing on YWS-for a long time-, because I just feel like it "sucks."

But then, there's always the hope that I will improve.
After all, practice makes top-quality
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads only lives once
~George R. Martin

Life isn't about finding yourself; it's about recreating yourself. ~George B. Shaw

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Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:58 am
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Kale says...

I know that when I first joined I would tip-toe around the mods and viewed them as these untouchable creatures to be marvelled at. Know this: they walk into a room and immediately forget why they walked into that room, just like you.

Too true.
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There are no chickens in Hyrule.
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Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.
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