I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Write what you know.” And between the ages of roughly 13 to 18, let’s face it, what do you know, really? Have you ever loved anyone, gotten married, had kids, lived through something heartbreaking, something wonderful beyond belief?
For most of us, no.
And what’s the most infuriating about this, is that so many sources for aspiring teenage writers basically just tell you to quit writing and experience life a little before starting it up again. I mean…what?! *outrage* If anyone ever gives you the aforementioned piece of advice, don’t listen.
Experience or just really good speculation?
The question I asked myself before starting to write one of my novels a few years ago was “How do I write a love story, if I’ve never been in love?” Granted, the whole story didn’t revolve around love, but there were romantic elements in the story. And I finally decided, that I didn’t need to experience it to write about it. All I needed to do was make it believable, whether that skill came from experience, or just really good speculation. And that’s the key. I mean, think about it. I doubt Suzanne Collins ever fought to the death in a creepy televised arena. So does that make her unqualified to write The Hunger Games? I mean, if experience was the only thing you could possibly base your writing on, there would be no such genre as fantasy. Or science fiction. This world would suck.
Experience is important, but it’s not essential.
Obviously, experience helps a lot when writing. I remember after having my first kiss, one of the first thoughts that fluttered through my weirdly confused brain was, “Hey, I can actually write about this now.” Sick, I know. But I wrote about it.
So don’t discount experience, but don’t tell yourself you can’t write because of your lack of it either. I’ve never been in love, but I have characters in my novels falling in love left and right. I’ve seen and read about love enough to be able to write a pretty convincing love story.
Also, you may not be as inexperienced as you think. Like I mentioned in my last post, if you’re a teen writing about teenagers, you’re probably one of the best candidates for the job. You’re right in the midst of it. You’ve experiences teenager-ness and you’re still experiencing it.
Experience is overrated.
So basically what I’m saying is, experience is supremely overrated. I learned how to write romantic scenes from reading romantic scenes. I learned how to write chase scenes, not by chasing or being chased by a serial killer (thank goodness), but by reading good chase scenes.
Learn to write by reading.
So, to make up for your lack of experience, find your inspiration elsewhere – like reading. Read anything and everything and I guarantee you’ll become a better writer. It’s just how it works. It’s how I learned to write and if I can do it, then anyone can.