“Why mentor teen writers?”
It’s a question I get asked a lot. Especially by other authors who are as busy as I am working on their craft and writing their own stories.
The answer is a simple one: I do it because I love it.
I’ve worked with teens for years, and when my kids’ school reached out, looking for community mentors, I jumped at the opportunity. It allowed me to check off those dreaded volunteer hours all while talking books and writing with my favorite audience: junior high and high school students.
And when I was asked to join the faculty at Southern California Christian Writers’ Conference, I begged and pleaded for the teen track and they gave it to me. I cannot tell you how excited I am for these six sessions.
Over the course of three days, we’ll discuss all sorts of fictional worlds. We’ll dig into existing stories and look at why they work. We’ll discuss simple plotting techniques and consider why failure is so important to a hero’s journey. We’ll stick our head into the wide world of publishing and look around a bit, and then we’re going to WRITE!
If you’re able to join us, please do. Teen writers get 50% off registration and free registration for an adult chaperone (please check the SoCal Conference site for details).
Because not all teen writers will be able to attend a conference, there are also opportunities for teens to find support online.
Several years back, author Stephanie Morrill launched a website called Go Teen Writers. Speculative fiction author, Jill Williamson, joined her in 2012 and they invited me on board in 2014.
This is not the kind of opportunity I could pass up. I had already decided that Go Teen Writers was the absolute best resource for teen writers on the internet, and I’m so privileged to be working alongside Steph and Jill.
Go Teen Writers is stocked full of articles relating to the craft of writing and the publishing industry. The three of us post once a week, so if you’re not seeing what you’re looking for, use the search bar because we’ve likely covered the topic at some point in the past. We frequently host guest authors and we’re big on writing exercises. We’ve also started video blogging and that’s been quite the adventure.
For teen writers looking to connect with other bookish souls, the Go Teen Writers Facebook group is worth a visit as well. The teens there frequently form their own critique groups and actively support one another as they all work to improve their craft.
Because, you too, might enjoy mentoring teen writers.
Maybe you like talking books and writing, and maybe you’ve got a knack for working with teens. If you do, I would encourage you to find an outlet.
When we enter into any kind of mentoring relationship, especially one that involves the arts, we understand that a creative soul offering their work up to be critiqued, is a courageous act. Telling a teen writer what to write is futile. Telling a teen how we reacted to their writing is helpful.
If you want to see bravery on display, mentor a teen writer. I promise you’ll learn something.
Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes novels. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys mentoring teen writers–both online and in person. She also blogs for Go Teen Writers, posting encouragement and instruction on a weekly basis. You can find out more about Shannon and her writing at shannondittemore.com.